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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

Category: Corporate organization
March 9, 2009 at 4:17 PM

Microsoft adds board member, declares 13 cent per share quarterly dividend

MariaKlaweWebBio.jpgMicrosoft announced this afternoon that Maria Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd College and a Ph.D, mathematician and computer scientist, is the 10th member of the company’s board of directors. The board also declared a quarterly dividend of 13 cents per share, up from 11 cents in the fiscal third quarter of 2008.

(Image via Harvey Mudd.)

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Comments | More in Coming and going, Corporate organization, Financial

March 9, 2009 at 6:04 AM

Profile: Kirill Tatarinov, head of Microsoft Business Solutions

From today’s paper, a profile of Kirill Tatarinov, corporate vice president in charge of Microsoft Business Solutions:

Even with somewhere north of $1 billion in annual sales, Microsoft Business Solutions is dwarfed by the enormous Office business that it shares space with in the company’s quarterly reports.

But Kirill Tatarinov, the group’s leader since July 2007, said MBS brings more to the broader Microsoft than revenue from its Dynamics-branded systems, which manage a company’s customer relationships, suppliers, inventory and other business basics.

It provides a “proof point to business decision makers” using the whole set of Microsoft server technologies, Tatarinov said. The Dynamics products “take advantage of all the innovation that’s happening” on Windows Server, Visual Studio, Office and other major products Microsoft sells to businesses.

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Comments | More in Corporate culture, Corporate organization, Personalities, Strategy

March 3, 2009 at 6:01 PM

Microsoft vendors and contingent workers total more than 79,000, on top of direct employees

It’s widely known that Microsoft has a large contingent work force in addition to its 96,000 direct, regular employees worldwide. But the company has never publicly quantified these workers, who typically work through third-party firms and do everything from mow the lawns to write software. According to numbers reviewed by The Seattle Times, Microsoft has roughly…

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Comments | More in Contractors, Corporate organization, Employees, Microsoft layoffs

February 26, 2009 at 5:55 AM

Microsoft temps face 10 percent pay cut

The thousands of contractors who work at Microsoft through third-party agencies are facing pay cuts beginning Monday, as Microsoft continues to look for ways to cut costs.

Microsoft and its contracting agencies agreed to a 10 percent cut in the bill rate, impacting all temporary worker assignments. Several contract employees have said the reduction is being passed on to them in the form of a pay cut. One person said some agencies are seeking to pass deeper pay cuts onto their workers. Several contractors contacted The Seattle Times, asking for anonymity for fear that speaking out would jeopardize their jobs.

The 10 percent cut is for existing contracts. New contracts will have a 15 percent reduction in the rate.

The cuts are not a complete surprise, as Microsoft had been trimming its contract work force even before it announced layoffs of 1,400 full-time employees Jan. 22 — the first major job reduction in company history. At that time, the company also said it intended to cut spending on contractors by up to 15 percent.

Another contractor said the cuts impact so-called “a-dash” employees, also known as contingent staff. It’s not immediately clear if “v-dash” employees, who are vendors, are facing similar cuts.

Notification of some contract employees began Tuesday. Microsoft does not disclose how many contractors it employs. These workers staff reception desks, test software, provide specialized consulting services and perform other functions that keep the company running through outside agencies. Sid Parakh, analyst at McAdams Wright Ragen, has estimated the figure to be around 40,000.

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Comments | More in Compensation, Corporate organization, Employee benefits, Microsoft layoffs, Tech Economy

February 13, 2009 at 6:58 AM

Microsoft Zune split into hardware, software teams

CNET’s Ina Fried reports that on Jan. 22, Microsoft split its Zune digital music team in two: one focused on the software and services, which it plans to expand onto other, non-Microsoft devices, and another focused on the Zune hardware.

[Update, 12:34 p.m.: Added comments from Robbie Bach, head of Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices Division, on the rationale for the change.]

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Comments | More in Corporate organization, Devices, Mobile, Music, Zune

February 12, 2009 at 2:21 PM

What fate for Bill Gates’ famous ‘Think Weeks’ at Microsoft?

First mentioned last week in Mini-Microsoft’s “pause” post, Microsoft is apparently rethinking the weeklong study sessions instituted by Bill Gates and later expanded to be a tool for percolating ideas up to the top from throughout the company. Mini wrote, “Within our leadership, there’s no one left who wants to read your Think Week paper, so they’re killing that off.”Mary Jo Foley followed up today, quoting a Microsoft spokesperson saying the company remains committed to innovation, and it is “evaluating how best to evolve Think Week.”

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Comments | More in Bill Gates, Corporate culture, Corporate organization

February 10, 2009 at 5:08 PM

Microsoft’s new communications head is Simon Sproule, formerly of Nissan

sproule.jpg Simon Sproule begins March 2 as corporate vice president of corporate communications for Microsoft, filling a role that has been vacant since Larry Cohen left the company last year to become Bill Gates’ chief of staff, the company announced this afternoon. Sproule, 40, will report to Mich Matthews, senior vice president of the Central Marketing Group at Microsoft.

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Comments | More in Coming and going, Corporate organization

January 21, 2009 at 8:41 PM

Some Microsoft employees bracing for an early morning announcement

Microsoft employees I spoke with this evening were preparing for a major announcement — possibly news of layoffs — from the company early Thursday. One person expected to be notified around 7 a.m. No one I spoke with had details on the size of any job cuts or specific groups that might be affected. All were looking forward to the prospect of the persistent, distracting layoff rumors being put to rest — one way or another. The company is also scheduled to report its fiscal second-quarter earnings on Thursday afternoon at the close of the trading day.

Here’s an early look at story in Thursday’s paper on what several financial analysts are expecting from the company in terms of layoffs and cost cuts:

Global tech bellwether Microsoft reports its second-quarter earnings Thursday amid persistent chatter and speculation about its cost-cutting plans, including whether the company will announce its first significant layoffs.

In the Puget Sound area, where Microsoft has more than 40,000 full-time employees and thousands more working on contract, a major layoff could deliver another blow after unemployment climbed to 6.1 percent in December (not adjusted for seasonal changes), the highest level since November 2003.

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January 21, 2009 at 8:36 PM

Microsoft job cuts since 1996

With the prospect of a significant job cut at Microsoft looming Thursday, we took a moment to review the occasions over the past decade or so when the company has trimmed jobs through reorganizations and other changes. While sifting through these numbers, remember that during the same period — 1996 to 2008 — Microsoft has grown total worldwide employment more than 340 percent from 20,561 to 91,259 as of June 30. The hiring continued through the latter half of 2008, albeit at a slower rate. As of November, Microsoft counted 95,664 employees globally.

June 2006: 148 positions in the U.S. sales group, including 98 in Redmond, were cut to “better align a small subset of field and headquarter positions more closely with the needs of our enterprise customers and partners.”

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Comments | More in Coming and going, Corporate organization, Tech Economy

January 16, 2009 at 9:13 AM

Organizational shift puts Microsoft Live Mesh in Windows Live group

Microsoft is doing some organizational shifting inside the Windows and Windows Live groups. Live Mesh, a new service that synchronizes devices and information, has moved from Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie’s organization to the Windows and Windows Live engineering group headed by Steven Sinofsky. Mary Jo Foley first reported the move this morning, which follows information we reported Thursday that some Microsoft employees were bracing for possible organizational changes.

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