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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: Employee benefits
June 15, 2009 at 2:34 PM

Microsoft news roundup: Bill Gates tie-less, cell phones cut, Google on Bing

Some bits and bytes on Microsoft from around the country: New York Post says Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin has a team of engineers dissecting Bing, Microsoft’s newly upgraded search engine. Early data after Bing’s launch at the beginning of June show that traffic numbers have improved for Microsoft’s search operation. MocoNews says Microsoft has stopped…

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Comments | More in Bill Gates, Bing, Employee benefits, Google, Microsoft, Mobile, News roundup, Windows Mobile

March 31, 2009 at 7:14 AM

Programming note: Microsoft health plan to be featured on Frontline

Microsoft’s gold-plated health insurance plan will be featured during PBS’ news magazine “Frontline” tonight at 9 p.m. on KCTS channel 9. The episode, “Sick Around America,” focuses on the broken U.S. health care system and how rising unemployment is leaving more people without coverage. Microsoft appears to be included as an example of American health…

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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 23, 2009 at 4:04 PM

Microsoft employees gave $87.7 million to charity last year

Nearly 60 percent of Microsoft’s U.S. employees gave to charity through part of the company’s corporate philanthropy program in 2008, it announced today. Counting matching donations from Microsoft, the company’s employees gave a record $87.7 million to the cause of their choice last year. The company matches employee giving dollar-for-dollar up to $12,000 a year.

On average, U.S. Microsoft employees contributed on average about $1,523 each — counting the company match. That’s based on a U.S. work force of 57,588 as of Dec. 31.

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Comments | More in Employee benefits, Philanthropy

February 23, 2009 at 3:12 PM

Microsoft lets 25 laid-off employees keep severance overpayment

After asking 25 laid-off Microsoft employees to return an overpayment of severance benefits, Microsoft’s top human resources executive decided to let them keep the money. Calling it a “unique circumstance,” Lisa Brummel, senior vice president of human resources, said the employees will not have to repay the overpayment, which ranged from a…

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Comments | More in Compensation, Corporate culture, Corporate governance, Employee benefits, Microsoft layoffs

February 23, 2009 at 5:15 AM

Microsoft news roundup: New work force training program; Severance benefits overpaid; More than half of Xbox 360 users pay for Live subscription

Microsoft on Sunday launched Elevate America, a multi-part work force training effort starting in partnership with three states, including Washington. The program, billed as an expansion of existing job-training efforts, “provides immediate support in response to the current economic crisis,” the company said in a statement. Starting immediately, job seekers can learn what skills they need for technology jobs and how to get them at a new Web site that starts with the basics, such as sending e-mail, and moves up to specific Microsoft programs. The three-year effort also includes vouchers for access to the company’s eLearning courses and selected certification exams. See this story by my Seattle Times colleague Linda Shaw for more details.

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Comments | More in Compensation, Employee benefits, News roundup, Public policy & issues, Xbox 360

February 12, 2009 at 7:28 PM

Microsoft’s new Online boss gets 390,422 shares, vesting over 4 years

Qi Lu, the Yahoo executive lured by Steve Ballmer to head Microsoft’s Online Services Group, was awarded 390,422 shares of company stock Wednesday, according to this SEC filing. The shares will vest as follows over the next four years: “20% on January 5, 2010, 20% on January 5, 2011, 20% on January 5,…

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Comments | More in Compensation, Employee benefits, Online services, Yahoo

February 3, 2009 at 5:29 AM

Report: IBM offering to relocate laid off workers to India, China, Brazil

InformationWeek, citing an internal document, reports that IBM is helping recently laid off workers find positions with the company overseas. From the document:

“IBM has established Project Match to help you locate potential job opportunities in growth markets where your skills are in demand. Should you accept a position in one of these countries, IBM offers financial assistance to offset moving costs, provides immigration support, such as visa assistance, and other support to help ease the transition of an international move.”

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Comments | More in China, Coming and going, Compensation, Employee benefits, India, Public policy & issues, Tech Economy

January 22, 2009 at 8:39 PM

Severance and benefits for laid off Microsoft employees

Microsoft is trying to ease the blow of layoffs to 1,400 people who were notified today. Their job responsibilities end Friday and, according to a WARN notice filed with the state, their layoff will be official on March 23. “The adjustments announced today impact Microsoft’s global operations, so employee Notification and the last day for individuals outside of the US will vary based on local laws,” a spokeswoman said in an e-mail.

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Comments | More in Employee benefits, Microsoft layoffs

October 1, 2008 at 7:30 AM

Update: Microsoft campus expansion on track as employment growth continues; campus sports bar confirmed

Driven out Highway 520 lately? That big cluster of buildings running west of the freeway to 148th Avenue Northeast and along Northeast 40th Street, they weren’t there a year ago.

That’s Microsoft’s huge west campus expansion, announced in early 2006, taking shape. The growth spurt, laid out in what the company thought would be a 15- to 20-year plan, is on schedule for completion next year.

The cluster of nature-themed buildings meant to house Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices Division have been built over a huge underground parking garage, five levels deep. Microsoft spokesman Lou Gellos said the garage will be ready for cars in February. The first new building is on track for occupancy in March 2009, with the last one scheduled for July 2009.

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Comments | More in Employee benefits, Real estate and facilities, Recruiting

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