"For the time being, it's a centre for great talent. We're using it as a place to locate talent rather than to get a specific piece of work done," Sharif Khan, vice president of human resources of Microsoft Canada, told CBCNews.ca ... "It's such an amazing place to attract great talent to," he said. "Talk about a hub, a great place to live for people, a sort of diverse and inclusive location with great infrastructure...."There's a restriction on the number of visas the company can get for foreign employees in the U.S.," he said. "Canada's slightly more inclusive in that respect."
It's pretty clear from the story this is a real research facility, not a back office, geared to attract top talent from Canada, Asia-Pacific and the world. Vancouver is close to Microsoft's Redmond, Washington headquarters just outside Seattle. So the development work, the salaries and tax revenues go to Canada not the US. And of course those all important technology spillovers and clustering get built in Vancouver strengthening its already significant research base and university infrastructure.
The full story is here (hat tips: Wendy Waters, Ken Firestone)