During the Microsoft Adriatic Annual Overview conference in Zagreb, head executive Venesa Schütz shared some interesting information about Microsoft in 2009. Venesa is leaving Microsoft Adriatic after spending 18 months at the helm of the best Microsoft branch in Central and Eastern Europe, returning to Germany, following her reputation of "fixer". Under her lead, Microsoft Adriatic continued to experience growth during the hard 18 months of recession and job losses, but it was that crisis that caused Microsoft to start heavily spending its cash on a global scale.

Editor-in-Chief of BSN* enjoys company of Venesa Schutz, Departing Head of Microsoft AdriaticFrom the numbers disclosed to us, Microsoft is wrapping the year up with a record number of newly launched products. There wasn’t a single business unit that didn’t venture into re-inventing itself, from the consumer-level Zune HD, Internet Explorer 8, Bing search or Windows 7 to the commercial level with Exchange 2010, Virtual PC, Visual Studio 2010, public release of Office 2010 Beta and many more.

All the advancements mentioned here carried a price tag and Venesa proudly stated that during 2009, Microsoft invested nine billion dollars into the Research & Development segment, dwarfing other industries and probably taking the first place overall.

In 2008, the world’s largest investor in R&D was Japanese car giant Toyota, with 8.99 billion dollars, followed by Nokia with 8.73 billion and Roche Holding at 8.17 billion dollars. Microsoft came in fourth with 8.16 billion dollars, up from seventh place in 2007. During 2009, Microsoft didn’t reduce R&D spending like some of the other corporations on the list. Instead they increased their investment by more than 10 percent to around nine billion dollars.

We won’t know the final 2009 rankings until November 2010 [yes, 11 months from now], but the impact of increased R&D spending is visible, at least in Microsoft’s case.

Venesa Schutz, Head of Microsoft Adriatic discloses Microsoft's vision of the future
Venesa Schutz, Head of Microsoft Adriatic discloses Microsoft’s vision of the future

Microsoft’s vision for the future carries two taglines: "Software + Services" and "Life on 3 screens". According to Venesa, "Screens will be everywhere – because now they cost nothing" and talked about  Microsoft’s vision that we will use at least three screens [computer, cell phone, second computer], especially in household environment. The combination between PC’s, Servers, handhelds and the Internet as a joint link is something Microsoft is heavily investing on, so it isn’t hard to imagine a Microsoft phone, Zune HD, Xbox Natal, couple PCs – all detecting you as a unique user and tailoring their appearance towards your profile.

We wonder is Microsoft planning on spending even more, perhaps even reaching 10 billion dollars in 2010, but we won’t know that until the end of the year. In any case, quite an impressive number for the company that is often criticized, yet 90% of all consumers use their software.