During fiscal years 2010, 2009, and 2008, research and development expense was $8.7 billion, $9.0 billion, and $8.2 billion, respectively. These amounts represented 14%, 15%, and 14%, respectively, of revenue in each of those years. We plan to continue to make significant investments in a broad range of research and product development efforts.
While most of our software products are developed internally, we also purchase technology, license intellectual property rights, and oversee third-party development and localization of certain products. We believe we are not materially dependent upon licenses and other agreements with third parties relating to the development of our products. Internal development allows us to maintain closer technical control over our products. It also gives us the freedom to decide which modifications and enhancements are most important and when they should be implemented. Generally, we also create product documentation internally. We strive to obtain information as early as possible about changing usage patterns and hardware advances that may affect software design. Before releasing new software platforms, we provide application vendors with a range of resources and guidelines for development, training, and testing.
Innovation is the foundation for Microsoft’s success. Our model for growth is based on our ability to initiate and embrace disruptive technology trends, to enter new markets, both in terms of geographies and product areas, and to drive broad adoption of the products and services we develop and market. We maintain our long-term commitment to research and development across a wide spectrum of technologies, tools, and platforms spanning communication and collaboration; information access and organization; entertainment; business and e-commerce; advertising; and devices.
Increasingly, we are taking a global approach to innovation. While our main research and development facilities are located in the United States, in Redmond, Washington, we also operate research and development facilities in other parts of the United States and around the world, including Canada, China, Denmark, England, India, Ireland, and Israel. This global approach will help us remain competitive in local markets and enable us to continue to attract top talent from across the world.
We invest in innovation by focusing on the emerging technology trends and breakthroughs that we believe offer significant opportunities to deliver value to our customers and growth for the company. Microsoft Research is one of the world’s largest computer science research organizations, and works in close collaboration with top universities around the world to advance the state-of-the-art in computer science, providing us a unique perspective on future technology trends.
Based on our assessment of key technology trends and our broad focus on long-term research and development of new products and services, areas where we see significant opportunities to drive future growth include:
Cloud computing and software plus services
The ability to combine the power of desktop and server software with the reach of the Internet is creating important opportunities for growth in almost every one of our businesses. Accordingly, we are focused on innovation and broadening our platform to develop a cloud computing ecosystem that positions us for success in areas including virtualization, management, and security identity. We are also focused on delivering end-to-end experiences that connect users to information, communications, entertainment, and people in new ways across their lives at home, at work, and the broadest possible range of mobile scenarios through investments in datacenters; new versions of Windows and Office that are designed to support a wide range of connected scenarios; solutions for businesses that can be deployed by a customer, by a service provider like Microsoft, or by a Microsoft partner; tools for developers and Web designers; and consumer products and services including Xbox 360, Xbox LIVE, Windows Live services and Zune.
Natural user interfaces
The next few years will also see dramatic changes in the way people interact with technology as touch, gestures, handwriting, and speech recognition become a normal part of how we control devices. This will make technology more accessible and simpler to use and will create opportunities to reach new markets and deliver new kinds of computing experiences. Our long-term investments in natural user interfaces can be seen in products like Windows 7, the Microsoft Auto software platform and Kinect for Xbox 360. We believe sensory input is just one aspect of Natural User Interface technology, and we are researching the impact of several “interaction paradigms” such as contextual awareness and environmental awareness.
New scenario innovation in key industries
Continuing improvement in the power of computers and devices and the speed and ubiquity of networks is creating opportunities to deliver innovation that will transform a number of key industries and address significant global issues including healthcare, environmental sustainability, and education. In healthcare, for example, computing will connect personal health information to medical research and help make healthcare more preventive, personalized, and cost-effective. Today, Microsoft products such as HealthVault and Amalga help individuals manage their personal health and enable healthcare professionals to integrate research and health information so they can deliver more effective care. We also believe that we are entering a period where personal computers will play an increasingly important role in virtually every field of scientific research and discovery.
As computing power increases, our ability to build software that has the intelligence to understand a user’s preferences based on the tools and information they have accessed in the past and anticipate their future needs is rapidly improving. This development will enable us to deliver a new generation of software solutions that make people more productive by enabling them to focus more on what they want to accomplish and less on the steps needed to use technology.