Posted by Brad Smith 
General Counsel

When Microsoft was founded in 1975, software was a little-known product in a niche industry outside the public eye. Today, thanks to the proliferation of powerful computing devices in everything from cars to mobile phones, software and information technology touch virtually every individual and every aspect of society.

The diffusion of technology has, in turn, raised the prominence and urgency of tech issues in public policy debates.

The centrality of tech issues in public life and Microsoft’s history as an innovator in the digital arena have often led to our involvement in public policy debates.  These have included a wide range of issues, from broadband access, online privacy and data portability to intellectual property protection, competition law, international trade and immigration.

Over the years we have used a variety of communications vehicles to share our positions. 

Today we are launching "Microsoft on the Issues" to open another, more direct line of communication that will enable us to quickly and succinctly provide our perspective on the pressing technology matters of the day.  We do not want this to be a one-way conversation. We want to create a transparent dialogue with readers and stakeholders. We want to enhance our participation in discussions that propel policy-making at local, national and international levels.

In the weeks and months ahead we’ll pay particular attention to the next wave in the computing revolution and its potential to use the power of software and the Internet in new ways to enhance choice for consumers, businesses and governments.  We’ll share our thoughts on how this computing revolution can accelerate economic growth by enabling companies and individuals to increase productivity, collaboration and job creation.  And we’ll outline the policy framework that we believe will give this next wave of computing the greatest chance of success.

Given that the economy and job creation are foremost in everyone’s minds right now, it’s fitting that our first post is on workforce development and skills training, from our Corporate Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs Pamela Passman. As Pamela explains, we believe it is critically important to empower workers with the skills necessary to thrive in our increasingly tech-centric society.   We’ve seen the impact that job training can have on the lives of countless individuals through our efforts with community-based training efforts around the world, and we believe that workforce development should be a major component of the economic stimulus package passed by the new U.S. Congress.

We look forward to hearing your feedback, and we encourage you to share your thoughts on this blog.