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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: Real estate and facilities
March 16, 2009 at 5:28 PM

More labor unrest at Microsoft: Custodians want subcontractor to restore jobs

Members of the Service Employees International Union Local 6 demonstrated at Microsoft’s Redmond campus for a second day Monday. Their gripe is not with the software giant but with a subcontractor, SBM Site Services of Sacramento, Calif., which was awarded the custodial contract in December to clean buildings at the corporate campus.

Since then, SBM has reduced the number of workers on the contract to 300. Jessica Berg, a spokesperson, said the company has laid off only 10 workers. The SEIU agrees that there are about 300 workers on the contract now, but says that represents a reduction of 60 jobs from the previous subcontractor, ABM Janitorial Services. Fred Prockiw, an organizer with Local 6, said ABM employed about 360 people for the same workload. A representative of ABM could not immediately be reached.

The remaining employees say they’re being asked to make up the slack.

“The workload’s too much,” said Dirk Koteles, 56, who picks up trash and sweeps Microsoft’s parking garages for $12.50 an hour, plus medical benefits. “They won’t give us overtime to do all this extra stuff. They expect us to get everything done in eight hours.”

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February 12, 2009 at 3:55 PM

Microsoft opening retail stores

After years of rumors, Microsoft today confirmed that it’s delving into retail. The company is hiring an executive “to create a better PC and Microsoft retail purchase experience for consumers worldwide through the development and opening of the company’s own retail stores,” according to this news release. To lead the effort, Microsoft hired a retail…

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January 20, 2009 at 12:06 PM

Microsoft slows some real-estate expansion amid bleak economy

Microsoft’s rapid facilities expansion in the Puget Sound area is slowing as the company navigates the bleak economy.

A source provided details of a plan including changes to construction projects, which this person said was approved by Microsoft Chief Financial Office Chris Liddell in December. The person asked for anonymity while sharing internal details.

The plan calls for a three-year delay of all construction projects, with the exception of Building 111. This apparently refers to new construction, as Microsoft is planning to complete the major West Campus expansion it embarked on in 2006, with some buildings ready for occupancy as early as this spring.

Microsoft spokesman Lou Gellos said the company was limited in what it could say because it is in a “quiet period” ahead of its second-quarter earnings report on Thursday.

“Like any well-managed business, we routinely check our assumptions and planning needs against our assessment of the economic environment,” he said in a statement. “As part of this process, which we undertake quarterly, we look at many scenarios and options. … In light of the economic situation, we will also delay some planned construction on the north part of our campus.”

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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

September 17, 2008 at 10:47 AM

‘Office’ star Rainn Wilson, not Seinfeld, to emcee Microsoft employee meeting tomorrow

Justin Lubin / NBC

Rainn Wilson, star of “The Office,” rumored to be hosting Microsoft company meeting.

A tipster tells me that Microsoft has enlisted local boy Rainn Wilson, star of the NBC sitcom “The Office,” to host its annual company meeting Thursday. People initially thought the host would be Jerry Seinfeld, who has recently hitched his wagon to the high-profile Windows campaign. “We were told the host would be ‘comedic,'” the tipster says, “so [Seinfeld] was the natural assumption, but Wilson, I think, will be a much more enjoyable emcee. … [T]he Rainn carrot is enticing some of my co-workers to now go to the meeting.”

I’m trying to get confirmation from Microsoft on the logistics of the company meeting, which is typically held at Safeco Field and can surprise some commuters with heavy traffic for a weekday morning in Sodo. Last year, the company also delivered some significant local news on the morning of the meeting, including a major investment in downtown Seattle real estate and a private shuttle network to save employees from driving alone to Redmond.

(Update, 11:40 a.m. and again at 12:13 p.m.: Microsoft spokesman Lou Gellos confirmed that the meeting will be held at Safeco tomorrow morning from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., which is shorter than normal. Wilson is indeed the emcee. Other presenters include Microsoft execs Steve Ballmer, Ray Ozzie and Kevin Turner. No definitive word on whether Bill Gates will be on hand. Bill Gates will not be there.

So far, about 21,000 23,000 employees have registered, which is a few thousand more than in previous years. Gellos noted that the company deliberately scheduled the meeting in the middle of the day to avoid impacting the morning or evening commutes. It also has a fleet of 212 buses to bring employees to and from Redmond and minimize the traffic impact. Buses will leave the Eastside between 9:30 and 10 a.m. and return beginning at 3 p.m.

Microsoft is conducting a food drive at the event to support Northwest Harvest and the Food Lifeline, agencies that are straining under the pressure of higher fuel prices and the slowing economy, Gellos said.)

Meanwhile, we’ve done some interesting stories on Rainn Wilson over the years, so check out these tidbits about the guy who ran with a posse of “Dungeons and Dragons aficionados” in his days at Shorecrest High School.

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Comments | More in Corporate culture, Miscellaneous, Personalities, Real estate and facilities

May 1, 2008 at 11:13 AM

Microsoft’s Bellevue footprint getting bigger still; excerpts from today’s employee meeting

The company is confirming today that it plans to lease the 26-story City Center Plaza, under construction at Northeast Sixth Street and 110th Avenue Northeast in downtown Bellevue. That would be on top of more than 1.3 million square feet of office space it nabbed last spring, and its swanky Lincoln Square digs.

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