Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) chief executive Steve Ballmer said today that the company plans to hire several thousand employees in China over the next year. Ballmer was speaking at a press conference in Shanghai. The new workers will help boost the world’s largest software maker’s smartphone and cloud computing businesses using Windows OS. However, Steve Ballmer didn’t specify exactly how many new workers will be added.

Microsoft logo

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) currently has about 4,000 employees in China. Ballmer said China is now the fastest growing market for Microsoft’s smartphone operating system Windows Phone. Microsoft is gearing up to launch a public preview of its cloud computing service Microsoft Azure in China next month. It will make the Redmond, Washington-based software giant the first MNC to provide public cloud computing services in the world’s second largest economy.

Perhaps today’s announcement by Steve Ballmer answers why Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke is still worried about high unemployment rates in the United States.

Microsoft Relies On Azure

Ballmer said he last visited the country in May 2012, and things have changed a lot in the last year. The software giant hopes to maintain its growth momentum with Internet-based business programs and Azure after lukewarm response to Windows 8 operating system. Declining global PC market is another cause of worry for the company. Personal computer sales declined 13.9 percent in the first quarter this year, the biggest quarterly decline in the history of the computer industry.

In November 2012, the software maker partnered with 21Vianet Group Inc (NASDAQ:VNET) to offer Windows Azure in China. Azure stores programs and data on remote servers and allows customers to access them through Internet. Individuals and corporate clients use it to operate their websites, corporate programs and applications through Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s data centers, without having to spend on their own storage and servers.

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) shares skidded 0.43 percent to $34.70 at 12:23 PM EDT.