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Microsoft

Microsoft Rumored To Lay Off Thousands Worldwide 506

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the that's-not-good dept.
nandemoari writes "It seems not even Microsoft is impervious to the effects of this increasingly painful recession. According to reports, the Redmond-based company is preparing to lay off about 17 per cent of its entire workforce in the coming months. Despite its portfolio diversity — including operating systems, antivirus software, and video game consoles — Microsoft is clearly feeling the pressure applied by a tightening global economy. In fact, there seems to be a sense of emergency to the massive cuts (about 15,000 workers out of 90,000), which rumors suggest should be made official by January 15."
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Microsoft Rumored To Lay Off Thousands Worldwide

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 05, 2009 @10:49AM (#26330395)

    Microsoft saw that 10% of their employees were hanging around on /. all day hoping for a first post.

  • a shame (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 05, 2009 @10:50AM (#26330421)

    What's a shame? 15,000 Microsoft employees losing their jobs.

    What's a crying shame? 75,000 continuing to work for Microsoft.

  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShooterNeo (555040) on Monday January 05, 2009 @10:51AM (#26330423)

    I have to ask...why? I thought Microsoft was massively profitable, even today. Surely they don't have to fire all these people to prevent losses?

    If Microsoft is still profitable, despite the recession, then they are really using the economy as a 'cover' to do the layoffs they always wanted, anyways. A good chunk of Microsoft represents divisions that don't make money, and never have. They have all sorts of niche applications, research, online sites, game consoles, ect...none of which, as far as I know, have made them any money. All of Microsoft's dough comes from Windows and Office.

    (before you say the Xbox division has made money, check your numbers : it never has made anywhere close to the money that was invested into it for each console. And, once a console is obsoleted, if you haven't made the money you spent to develop it back, you never will)

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jeff Hornby (211519) <jthornby.sympatico@ca> on Monday January 05, 2009 @10:55AM (#26330507) Homepage

      If you look at the blogs of some of the microsoft employees, Microsoft isn't just using the recession to cut unprofitable product lines, they're also using it to cut people who maybe shouldn't have been hired in the first place. Specifically, layoffs are being used as a way of culling the bottom 10 or 20% of performers in order to improve the overall performance of the company.

      • You mean (Score:5, Interesting)

        by WindBourne (631190) on Monday January 05, 2009 @11:12AM (#26330733) Journal
        that they are acting like other companies?
        • Re:You mean (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Jeff Hornby (211519) <jthornby.sympatico@ca> on Monday January 05, 2009 @12:09PM (#26331535) Homepage

          Not really.

          Most companies when faced with having to do layoffs offer buyouts. Those most likely to take a buyout package will be those who can easily find another job. Therefore most companies ending up culling the top 10-20%. From what I've heard (and I have no inside information on this) Microsoft is going to be doing targeted layoffs to counter the effect of the hiring binge they've been on for a few years now.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          they are acting like other companies?

          IIRC, Microsoft has never had a major layoff in the past. That's why it would be a big deal, if it's true.

      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Funny)

        by ArhcAngel (247594) on Monday January 05, 2009 @11:18AM (#26330819)

        "layoffs are being used as a way of culling the bottom 10 or 20% of performers"

        Ballmer should be nervous.

      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Tom (822) on Monday January 05, 2009 @11:22AM (#26330869) Homepage Journal

        Specifically, layoffs are being used as a way of culling the bottom 10 or 20% of performers in order to improve the overall performance of the company.

        That'll be interesting, then. By and large, every performance measuring I've ever seen has been flawed, and unless it was for very simple jobs, greatly so.

        Especially in a development environment, performance is hard to measure. There are anecdotes en masse about people who contributed very little measurable output to a project, but when they were fired the whole thing went down the drain.

        Cutting "low performers" has, in my experience, always been a sign of a company in financial trouble. One that desperately needs to save money in order to please stockholders, and employees simply are one of those "cutting costs opportunities" that stockholders love.

        • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday January 05, 2009 @11:28AM (#26330933) Journal
          Microsoft have enough cash in the bank that they could afford to spend around five years with no income (not just no profits, or a small loss, but not selling a single product to anyone). They definitely don't need to fire anyone to get past an economic slump. If they had a surplus of good people, the best thing for them to do is put them all on projects with a 3-7 year horizon, and then when the recession is over they'll be in a much better position than many of their competitors who actually did have to cut their workforce.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Ugot2BkidNme (632036)
            You truly believe that a public company doesn't need to make and show profits at all times? What kind of altruistic world are you living in?
            • by Nicolas MONNET (4727) <nicoaltiva@@@gmail...com> on Monday January 05, 2009 @01:59PM (#26333167) Journal

              In theory, a company could be investing for a major project, esp. if it has lots of money in the bank.
              But those days, when you have (still) have to compete with hedge fund managers who can (could) generate gobs of money doing nothing, a real company doing some real work doesn't look serious.
              Hopefully this will change as a result of the current financial crisis, but I'm afraid the right lessons aren't being learned when you see the Big 3 CEOs being lampooned for not taking a bus when they were asking for 20 billions, while nobody asked the bank CEOs how many dozens of millions they spent on blow, hookers and cocaine in the past months, and the fuckers got several hundred billions, for doing nothing but fuck the whole economy up.

          • Re:Why? (Score:5, Funny)

            by CompMD (522020) on Monday January 05, 2009 @12:55PM (#26332201)

            "the best thing for them to do is put them all on projects with a 3-7 year horizon"

            Do you have any idea how big you're asking them to make the IE standards compliance team?

          • They definitely don't need to fire anyone to get past an economic slump.

            They don't HAVE to but they probably NEED to. Management NEEDS to meet the demands of the board of directors, and ultimately shareholders. That is the trade-off of being a public company--you get liquidity, access to capital and so forth but you have that little obligation there to those who have invested. MSFT has promised in its quarterly reports etc. to meet a certain level of fiscal performance, and though it could certainly survive without layoffs it probably would fall far short of that performance

        • Re:Why? (Score:4, Funny)

          by Capt James McCarthy (860294) on Monday January 05, 2009 @11:56AM (#26331367) Journal

          Specifically, layoffs are being used as a way of culling the bottom 10 or 20% of performers in order to improve the overall performance of the company.

          That'll be interesting, then. By and large, every performance measuring I've ever seen has been flawed, and unless it was for very simple jobs, greatly so.

          Especially in a development environment, performance is hard to measure. There are anecdotes en masse about people who contributed very little measurable output to a project, but when they were fired the whole thing went down the drain.

          Cutting "low performers" has, in my experience, always been a sign of a company in financial trouble. One that desperately needs to save money in order to please stockholders, and employees simply are one of those "cutting costs opportunities" that stockholders love.

          So Microsoft hired the "Bobs" to weed folks out?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by scamper_22 (1073470)

          here here.
          Man I just wish I could explain to business people the failure of performance measurement. I almost feel having no metrics is better than having bad metrics.

          I worked for the largest telecom manufacturer and they had this really stupid policy where you had a target 'bug count'. Fix 1.5 bugs per week was the target. The problem is this resulted in people doing short hacky fixes instead of actually fixing problems. Heck you were rewarded for this. Just fix the immediate bug, then get another bug

          • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Reapman (740286) on Monday January 05, 2009 @01:25PM (#26332637)

            At my work, if a ticket comes in at a certain severity, it's my task to close the ticket, and reopen it at a lower severity. THEN start working on fixing the problem. This doesn't help me serve the clients, but it does help improve our metrics. In fact I don't think I've once heard anything about improving customer service where I work in the past year, it's all about doing more work remotely.

        • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by quarterbuck (1268694) on Monday January 05, 2009 @12:41PM (#26331991)
          Cutting "low performers" has, in my experience, always been a sign of a company in financial trouble.
          Jack Welch was the one of the first guys to propose the idea of firing the weak performers and at GE popularized it company wide, firing employees and selling weak businesses. I have not worked at GE, but from reading his book it seems that it is important to measure the right outcome before firing people. When he said that he would sell off companies which were not number one in their industry, the companies started redefining the industry very narrowly so as to be number one. eg: We are the number one company that makes 40W bulbs and toothpastes. He also explains how you can end up firing wrong employees.
          So Firing bad employees has been done atleast by one company in times when they were not in financial trouble.
          • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 05, 2009 @05:30PM (#26336275)

            I worked for GE during the days of Neutron Jack Welch. The company culture was fear and intimidation. My immediate manager cried in the office at least one a week. I attended meetings where the secret agenda was that the meeting would continue until somebody cried. In management training, I was directed to march in the hallways chanting slogans to the effect that "no one is irreplaceable." I was yelled at by people who didn't even know my name. I saw people spit on each other. Two people were killed in separate suspicious fork lift accidents.

            Welch told his general managers that if they did not produce returns that exceeded the market average, the first thing to happen would be the dismissal of the manager and then the business unit would be sold. The business units then ended all R&D and cut overhead to the bone by eliminating every conceivable soft benefit including the water fountains, toilet paper, and bathroom cleaning. The businesses cannibalized themselves for short term profit while the managers waited out the clock for early retirement or a new job. The successors would just have to deal with the low moral, lack of investment, and empty husk of a business left behind.

            Welch was great for share holder, but he was very bad for employees. It's debatable, but he may have been very bad for GE in the long term.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by bugi (8479)

          Okay, so don't blindly rely on imperfect models. Their managers should know who the slackers are, what they do and what the consequences are of firing their ass. That's their *job*. Otherwise, fire the oblivious boss and promote Wally. Then fire Wally and repeat until sanity is visible.

          Psst. Don't tell my boss I'm here.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by digitig (1056110)

          Cutting "low performers" has, in my experience, always been a sign of a company in financial trouble. One that desperately needs to save money in order to please stockholders, and employees simply are one of those "cutting costs opportunities" that stockholders love.

          As Stephen J Gould pointed out, the only things that are "lean and mean" in nature are animals that can no longer hunt effectively and are dying.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by 0xABADC0DA (867955)

          That'll be interesting, then. By and large, every performance measuring I've ever seen has been flawed, and unless it was for very simple jobs, greatly so.

          For programmers it's really easy. Just find the programmer that people go to when there's a problem they can't figure out and ask him who should be fired and why. These people know exactly who isn't pulling their weight and can explain why in detail.

          If you need to fire more people, find the person who fixes everybody else's broken code and ask them.

          This has the double benefit of firing the worst performers and reducing the workload on the better ones.

        • Re:Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by tnk1 (899206) on Monday January 05, 2009 @01:45PM (#26332959)

          I recall a situation where we wondered why certain people had been laid off. Our layoffs generally tended to consist of volunteers to take the package, then low performers, and then finally people they simply had to cut to make the numbers. Unfortunately, every category had someone in it, but we tended to find that most people were in the first two categories, and very few were in the last.

          When that layoff rolled around, however, we noticed that some very good people were getting cut, when at the the same time, some complete idiots were being kept on. As much as layoffs make any sense, we assumed that even if the reasoning was irrational for layoffs, that there was a rational system by which decisions were made.

          In this case, our CTO admitted in a small meeting with some of us that they had been forced to make a major mistake. This was fairly candid, as I work for a major company and you don't usually hear a C-level say anything that gives away information to minions like us. For that matter, you usually don't ever see a C-level.

          What he said was that their financial reporting, of all things, had forced them to not only take care of the layoff, but do it in a completely boneheaded manner. The parent company had stated in their reporting that they were taking a chargeback for a layoff in Q3, but a number of delays had forced them right to the deadline without them being able to implement it.

          This was bad news, because if the layoff did not happen they would either have to do some sort of earnings restatement, or they would be in actual trouble.

          Of course, the parent company decided that instead of the restatement, which would inconvenience them, they would pressure our subsidiary's executives to do a crash layoff. Since the delays ensured that there was not the needed time to do the necessary meetings with lower management and ensure that those folks were on message, they restricted input to VP level and all decisions were made on layoffs by SVP level.

          So you may ask: How do VPs and SVP's make decisions about people whose names that they can barely remember, let alone know what they do?

          The answer is that you hand them the performance reviews for every employee.

          Sounds like a reasonable idea, right?

          Wrong. It turns out that managers, even the ones we assume to be inhuman, prefer not to rock the boat, or they're just plain lazy. It also didn't help that we had major re-orgs recently, so those same managers would have have difficulty even if they had been completely diligent about reviews.

          Therefore, unless the people under them were incredibly distinguished... or complete morons, there was a tendency to rate everyone under them as average and grant them all the same scores and similar, content-free comments.

          Faced with a massive pile of employees who seemed to be no different than any other employee, they did their best to glean any actual idea of their relative performance out of the review. As you would expect, in some cases, they might as well have thrown darts at a list of names.

          Our CTO went through the process and admitted afterwards that they had made a mistake. Performance reviews had ended up being useless forms that had to be filed so everyone got their pay and bonuses. Unless there were things that they could not avoid stating on them, a manager made all of his reviews would the same.

          At the same time, he then said two more truths. There is technically no reason required to lay someone off, so this layoff was technically a success. And he also stated that we were far from done laying people off.

          He did promise, however, that he would do his best to try and push back if something like this happened again. Considering the person, I think he might actually even try to keep his word. He'll probably fail, of course, but its comforting to know that someone much closer to the Board might actually say something.

          So in the end, performance reviews are only as good as the process and the people conducting them. G

      • Why layoff? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gillbates (106458) on Monday January 05, 2009 @11:44AM (#26331185) Homepage Journal

        culling the bottom 10 or 20% of performers in order to improve the overall performance of the company.

        If someone isn't doing a satisfactory job, they can be fired.

        But no matter how many people you lay off, you'll always have someone in the lower 10 to 20 percentile. That's just the way statistics works.

        There are a variety of reasons why culling the bottom performers seldom improves the performance of the company as a whole:

        • Employees typically retain undocumented product knowledge in their heads. Someone with intimate knowledge of the codebase, who wrote the original code and debugged it, can typically turn defects around ten times faster than someone who was not involved in the original product.
        • Engineers with the lowest rated performance usually get that rating because they are thorough, methodical and diligent. In other words, they keep the poor code the other engineers write from making it into the shipping version. These are not the kind of people you want to fire.
        • The best performers typically sacrifice aspects of the job which aren't rated in order to achieve that rating. For example, they might write unmaintainable or difficult-to-understand code; may reinvent the wheel; might write code which is far more complicated than needed. While they meet their rated goals, their long term costs may exceed the benefit.
        • Problems inevitably crop up that require novel solutions. Having a staff with a diversity of skill sets creates an environment where the best tool is used for the job, rather than having to use a single tool for every job, no matter how poorly suited, because the company laid off all employees with "unneeded" skill sets.
        • There will always be employees in the lower X% no matter how many people are laid off. Typically, there is a 10 to 1 performance ratio between the best and the worst performers. Instead of simply laying off the lowest performing employees, the question should be, "Why such a large discrepancy?" The answers are often illuminating: A.) Office politics; B.) Personality conflicts; C.) Equipment/resource shortages; D.) Problems with the development process; etc... Ignoring the reasons and simply laying off employees often exacerbates the underlying problem.

        I've seen management buy into the "layoff the lowest performers" myth far too often to let it go. It is almost always the harbinger of deeper, structural problems within the company, which if left unaddressed, result in the financial collapse of the company. Laying off people - even the worst performers - almost never results in a more efficient company. If you can't fire them for cause, they're more than likely adding value, even if that value isn't being measured by a performance metric. Take that away, and you take away your ability to do business.

        • Re:Why layoff? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Joce640k (829181) on Monday January 05, 2009 @11:54AM (#26331349) Homepage

          You think all 90,000 Microsoft employees are programmers?

          I doubt if even ten percent of them are. Most will be middlemen and general hangers-on.

        • by ArhcAngel (247594) on Monday January 05, 2009 @12:24PM (#26331765)

          I couldn't agree more. Three of the companies I have worked at for more than a year closed their doors shortly after I decided to leave. That's the way I remember it anyway.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Jaeph (710098)

          I am amazed that your ill-supported rant got rated so highly. Do you have any supporting evidence for your wild accusations? "Engineers with the lowest rated performance usually get that rating because they are thorough, methodical and diligent." ... "The best performers typically sacrifice aspects of the job which aren't rated in order to achieve that rating."

          Where did you come up with this nonsense?

          In my working experience (both as programmer, administrator [dba/sys], manager), the worst performers are

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Trojan35 (910785)

          So, all your points are good, but a good manager should recognize all of those things and incorporate them as positives in your performance review.

          If you have bad management, well... you should have already been looking for a new job.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mpapet (761907)

        Specifically, layoffs are being used as a way of culling the bottom 10 or 20% of performers in order to improve the overall performance of the company.

        Haha. If only that were true.

        First to go is the bottom 10-20% wage-earners. What's left are a few people who work, and the vast unwashed masses of people who pass their work onto others, look busy, blame others for failures and take credit for the slightest whiff of success of something nearby.

        Bottom line: way more aggressive workplace politics, less produc

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ShooterNeo (555040) on Monday January 05, 2009 @10:59AM (#26330555)

      Of course, that's a really douchebag move on Microsoft's part. If they are going to fire a ton of people to increase their profits, why didn't they do this when the economy was ok? Or wait until the recession ends? Essentially they are kicking out thousands of people during the WORST possible time to be fired, and doing this now in order to not look as bad and to prevent lawsuits. (since the best way to do a questionable firing is to lump it together with a bunch of other firings and call it a 'layoff')

      I know, I know, Corporations are not your friend, even if they employ you. They are out for themselves, and noone else. But why would an employee of Microsoft be motivated to 'go the extra mile' for a company that does things like this? If a company I was working for did stuff like this, I would quickly lose any loyalty I had and try to find ways to manipulate the system in order to do the least work for the most pay.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by daem0n1x (748565)
        Welcome. It's called capitalism. Love it or leave it.
        • Re:Why? (Score:5, Funny)

          by thrillseeker (518224) on Monday January 05, 2009 @11:19AM (#26330835)
          or, if you have bought enough votes, demand it bail you out when you fail
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            or, just go to work for the government where layoffs never happen (even though half my coworkers don't do a damn thing all day). Governments don't do layouffs because it would look bad for the politicians. It's welfare for the middle class.

            Hi diddle dee dee; a bureaucrat's life for me;
            We rob from the taxpayer and pay ourselves
            We don't do no work because we'll get your money anyway.
            Yes I pay taxes, but I use your money, not mine!
            Yes it's a bureaucrat's life for me.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by tg2k (895772)
        Per the previous comment, if you were going the extra mile, you'd be less likely to get laid off, even now.
      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cayenne8 (626475) on Monday January 05, 2009 @12:19PM (#26331699) Homepage Journal
        "If a company I was working for did stuff like this, I would quickly lose any loyalty I had and try to find ways to manipulate the system in order to do the least work for the most pay."

        Err...isn't that what everyone does now?

        Not so much the least work part...but, really, the days of loyalty to a job/company....and having a job for life are LONG gone my friend. There is no such thing anymore, aside from very, very small operations maybe.

        That's why I like...and advocate more people try to get into contracting. If you are going to, as an employee, get treated with no loyalty...are easily replaceable, they why not get paid contractor rates? And hell...it isn't like you have any more job security as a direct employee..just talking with a friend of mine that is an engineer in the oil rig building business. He mentioned that some work had slowed...and they fired a direct employee..to keep him around as a contractor.

        So really, don't get too caught up on this loyalty thing. In most cases, you are dispensible to the company, don't take a job as something personal. It is merely something to earn money from. If you like doing the stuff, even the better, but, don't try to think you will be appreciated personally in the long run. And don't take it personally, it is just business. Yes, try to make the max. buck you can. They are only after the max work they can get out of you.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      They're not doing it to "prevent losses". They're doing it to "maximise shareholder value". From the perspective of a corporation, any employee that doesn't add more value to the company's bottom line that it costs to employ them is not worth keeping around. Clearly, someone at Microsoft feels this is the case with a significant fraction of the workforce there. (Whether they are right or not is something that only time will tell.)

      • by Plunky (929104)

        They're not doing it to "prevent losses". They're doing it to "maximise shareholder value".

        I wonder how many employees are also shareholders? I thought that historically (at least) they gave out lots of stock options as bonuses..

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by msaavedra (29918)

          Having a stock option is not the same thing as having actual stock. An option is just the right to buy stock at a predetermined price at some point in the future. As a rule, you only exercise that option when you actually want to sell the stock and take your money, since there is little to no upside to exercising the option and then holding on to the stock. Furthermore, all options that haven't been exercised already are likely worthless, since the stock price has come down so much, and will probably never

    • Wow - you never plan for farther than the next quarter, do you? XBox represents MS last great hope for ruling the living room. It doesn't matter how much money the previous iterations lost, as long as the next ones have a chance at creating the next monopoly.

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted@slashd[ ]org ['ot.' in gap]> on Monday January 05, 2009 @11:11AM (#26330717)

      You still live in the illusionary world, where companies care for anything other than more money? Why do you think, they call them "human resources"? Because you don't work with resources. You use them. And when you used them up, you throw away the empty shells.

      They don't even need to attempt to cover anything. It's just you, thinking they had some kind of conscience.

      If Microsoft does anything at all, it is, to make more money. There are no second objectives.

      And this is not a MS-specific thing. It's the foundation of all capitalism and all companies.
      This is why some people hate capitalism. I don't hate. I just think that there is no better alternative yet.

    • by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Monday January 05, 2009 @11:12AM (#26330725)

      Here's the Dirty Secret: Around the nation there are profitable companies who have been operating "fat" for years, with bloated rosters of do-nothing personnel. You know this -- We all know this, we've bitched and moaned about it on this board and down at the local pub for years. The trouble was, it was just too difficult to fire anybody. In the litigation-happy workplace that was late 20th century America, a guy had to practically set fire to his cubicle with two secretaries tied to chairs inside it before he could be let go.

      No More.

      Now, all any large company has to do is mumble something about "recession" or "difficult times" and nobody -- employee, manager, or labor lawyer -- will blink twice.

      • by peter303 (12292) on Monday January 05, 2009 @11:35AM (#26331025)
        When lots of people job-hop in a good economy, companies will intentionally overhire to compensate. In recent months moany companies have eliminated this cushion in "modest" (single digit percentage) layoffs. Serious layoffs may be around the corner.
      • by Foolicious (895952) on Monday January 05, 2009 @02:27PM (#26333655)

        a guy had to practically set fire to his cubicle with two secretaries tied to chairs inside it before he could be let go.

        Sheesh. Why do people keep bringing this up? I'd like to put it behind me.

        Read the report. It was all just a big misunderstanding. I did the counseling and volunteered in the burn unit, and as a result I was cleared of all charges and got to keep my job.

        And it's "Administrative Assistant" (admin for short), not "Secretary". I learned that in the counseling.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Panic Mode. Everyone is going into Panic Mode. Our company has had record profits for numerous quarters straight. We weren't even close to posting a loss in Q3 but given the economic forecast the powers that be went into a massive lock down on budgets:

      Executives are taking a 5-35% paycut, No merit based pay raises across the board, bonuses reduced, Hiring freeze, releasing of contract workers and buyouts err... "Voluntary Separations".

      All in preparation of what's to come. If you're firing people when you're

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Thelasko (1196535) on Monday January 05, 2009 @11:15AM (#26330771) Journal

      I have to ask...why? I thought Microsoft was massively profitable, even today. Surely they don't have to fire all these people to prevent losses?

      You have a lot to learn about how Wall Street works. Being profitable is not enough to keep stock prices high. Brokers and analysts come up with figures [investopedia.com] (sorry for the ads) that corporations have to meet or exceed for fear of a massive sell-off. As a result, corporate executives often order massive layoffs in order to meet these expectations made by Wall Street to keep the value of their stocks high.

      In my opinion, this is a major flaw in the way our economy operates as these layoffs ultimately do more harm than good. Corporations that do these types of layoffs often hire many new employees as soon as it looks like they will beat The Street's expectations and will spend massive resources to train them, only to get rid of them down the line. Employee's are all unique and should be treated as an investment, not a commodity. [wikipedia.org]

  • It's about time. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gcnaddict (841664) on Monday January 05, 2009 @10:53AM (#26330453)
    If you've ever been on their Redmond campus, you'd see two things:
    1. There are lots of smart people who deserve jobs at Microsoft.
    2. There are lots of stupid people who don't deserve jobs at Microsoft.

    Lisa Brummel is a Microsoft Senior VP. She's in charge of human resources, and given some of her other decisions internally, I think she'll do the right thing and cut some weight from Microsoft.

    • by Farmer Tim (530755) <roundfile@nosPAM.mindless.com> on Monday January 05, 2009 @11:02AM (#26330603) Journal

      There are lots of smart people who deserve jobs at Microsoft.

      Why, what did they do wrong?

      • by Foofoobar (318279)

        There are lots of smart people who deserve jobs at Microsoft. Why, what did they do wrong?

        Critical fail on the 'chair duck'

  • by linumax (910946) on Monday January 05, 2009 @10:55AM (#26330495)
    From Seattle PI [nwsource.com]:

    A CNBC report out today appears to put to rest continued rumors of significant Microsoft layoffs coming this month.
    In recent weeks, two blogs -- Mini-Microsoft and Fudzilla -- have both reported that Microsoft is preparing to lay off large numbers of employees before the company announces its second quarter earnings on Jan. 22.
    Neither blogger quoted inside sources and both later backtracked on their reports.

    • by value_added (719364) on Monday January 05, 2009 @11:12AM (#26330737)

      Neither blogger quoted inside sources and both later backtracked on their reports.

      Couldn't you have prefaced that with a "Spoiler Alert" warning? Or waited for a few hundred more posts?

      You've ruined all the fun. If Slashdot is ever forced to lay people off, it'll be because of people like you interfering with everyone's God-given right to enjoy or otherwise take part in idle speculation, rumour-mongering, Microsoft-bashing, car analogies, or invoking the meme of the day.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 05, 2009 @11:40AM (#26331093)

      This is happening, people just don't want to go on record.

      In the town I live, with a MS campus, this has been the fact for a while. Many people were given 60 days to find new jobs, with massive amounts of people taking other unfilled jobs internally. Since there has been a hiring freeze for a long time, there are lots of open jobs.

      They'll probably eliminate a lot of 'positions' but not a lot of 'people.'

  • Layoffs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bowl_of_petunias (1437029) on Monday January 05, 2009 @10:56AM (#26330509)

    I know a few people in the NYC office who have been worried this week by the layoff rumor. Hopefully, Microsoft will streamline the company responsibly. It is unfortunate that so many companies are considering large layoffs, but it is hardly surprising. Many corporations are bogged down by redundancy or mediocrity in the workforce, and would benefit from a careful re-analysis. I know it's easy to jump to the "microsoft sucks" conclusion, but I'm afraid we will be hearing more of these stories from around the country in the next few months. I'm sure even the "evil" microsoft top executives are heartsick over the human cost (and bad press).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 05, 2009 @10:56AM (#26330521)

    Don't worry! the cuts are just "trimming the fat" on Microsoft, to make it a more "lean" company.

    Cuts are expected to be in the following "unncecessary" departments:

    - VISTA Marketing
    - Quality Assurance
    - Software Testing
    - Maintenance Programming

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kyrre (197103)

      You forgot hardware testing. Those guys have not seen any action for years.

  • More stock drops? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by santiagoanders (1357681) on Monday January 05, 2009 @10:57AM (#26330533)

    These are the kind of crappy rumors (like Steve Jobs is sick, OH NOEZ!) that cause stock to drop, and then Microsoft really will have to cut some jobs.

  • by sjhwilkes (202568) on Monday January 05, 2009 @10:59AM (#26330557)

    In theory they can't lay off a ton of people in the US without pushing the H1B's out the door first - but it's unlikely they'll want to lose a bunch of their most cost effective workers. Be interesting to see what happens, they could have layoffs without layoffs (say it's all performance based), or the US could escape most of the cuts while the rest of the world gets layoffs. Suspect we'll see soon.

  • Bailout (Score:5, Funny)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Monday January 05, 2009 @10:59AM (#26330567)
    It makes one wonder if they'll ask congress for a bailout to save all those jobs...
    • by DaveV1.0 (203135)

      But, but, this is happening in a recession. Don't you know that?!? Aren't you filled with dread for the economy? This can only mean the economy is in a depression, the company is going to fail, and the world will end. Never mind that this company lays off people every year or two. This is obviously a serious issue!!! Panic, damn you, PANIC!!!! /sarcasm

    • by Reapman (740286) on Monday January 05, 2009 @11:07AM (#26330677)

      Probably because, for Microsoft, this doesn't happen all the time. I can't remember the last time Microsoft laid off 15, 10, or even 5 percent of their workforce.

    • I don't get why this is news?

      Probably because this is the first time as far as anyone can remember that Microsoft has had to do anything like this, indicating that they're not doing so hot in the financial department.

  • Often they are first to go because they have the lowest firing costs. I know they a double-digit percentage of such in the past.
  • by RichMan (8097) on Monday January 05, 2009 @11:14AM (#26330759)

    So what are these people going to do? And how are they going to get jobs. Right away the market will be saturated and they will be sitting around.

    Short term, work on free and open source software (FOSS) from home for free. This keeps their hands warm and gets their skills up to the new market.

    Long term get employed to implement FOSS solutions for companies looking to avoid Microsoft costs.

    Well that is what I see the better ones doing.

    • by Shados (741919) on Monday January 05, 2009 @11:21AM (#26330861)

      If i had a guess, I'd think a lot of the people getting laid off will not be the core software engineers... Part of tech support, part in their offshore offices (since they had stated it had caused them more than a little bit of problem in the past), and the people that everyone wants fired but never were (there's always a lot of those, in any team).

      With a sub 20% number of layoffs, very, very few people with the actual talent and drive to work on FOSS would be part of the job cut...unless they do things such as close an office and fire everyone in, regardless of importance.

  • by zerofoo (262795) on Monday January 05, 2009 @11:58AM (#26331397)

    Microsoft is the General Motors of software. I've been saying this for years, and slowly Microsoft is proving me right.

    Here are the similarities:

    1. Low-quality products. Quarter after quarter, year after year, cranking out low-quality products that have persistent design issues.

    2. Lots of overhead for a few products that do produce profits.

    3. Ignoring the customer. How many times have calls for better/more secure products gone unheeded?

    4. Incompetent management that has no vision.

    Microsoft's long term health will end up like GMs - they have a mountain of cash, so it will take a while, but unless the above changes, Microsoft's fate will be the same as GM's.

    -ted

  • Vista Adoption (Score:3, Informative)

    by rlp (11898) on Monday January 05, 2009 @12:27PM (#26331815)

    Microsoft makes money on their OS and Office, everything else is break-even or a loss. Vista adoption rates by businesses have been dismal before the recession hit. They'll be a lot worse now. Microsoft is clearly expecting a bit earnings hit.

  • by Locutus (9039) on Monday January 05, 2009 @12:44PM (#26332019)

    I am surprised that Microsoft is needing to reduce its workforce by so much but if WinPC shipments are down then they have to cut or it'll really show up on the books.

    As far the statement of surprise at this move goes( "Despite its portfolio diversity" ), that portfolio is weighted heavily with financial losses and has been for over a decade. Something in the range of 80-90% of their profits come from 2 or 3 products( Microsoft Windows desktop and server, Microsoft Office ).

    Now if the WinPC shipments numbers don't show a large decline, we can figure that a whole lot of businesses are not signing up for expensive bundled contracts and either are stagnating their IT infrastructure or are going elsewhere.

    Then again, when was the last big financial shuffle at Microsoft? They used to do this every three years or so and it was a nice way to hide loss patterns and move some of those billions in profits around. I remember one shuffle left the Windows CE/Mobile division and MSN division with enough to show a onetime profit and was around the time they cut the R&D budget from $6.3 billion to around $3.1 billion. The press was all over the R&D cuts but totally missed how a lot of money got shuffled around.

    This would be a good way to kill two birds with one stone. Re-org and reduce head counts in a slowing economy and pressure from open source around the world. IMO.

    LoB

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