Follow us:

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: Tech Economy
May 1, 2009 at 2:59 PM

Tech Alliance says Washington state lags peer states in educating students for technology jobs

Before Ray Ozzie took the stage at the Technology Alliance’s lunch today, the group presented its annual benchmark study comparing Washington with 10 states it considers peers for centers of technology. The alliance is a statewide group of business and academic leaders working to promote a strong technology economy. Jeremy Jaech, the incoming chair of…

More

Comments | More in Education, Tech Economy

March 25, 2009 at 6:26 PM

Q&A: Microsoft chief strategist Craig Mundie on global competition, government IT

Craig Mundie, Microsoft chief research and strategy officer, said Americans seeking to update their technology skills should look to the nation’s community colleges for training.

Mundie took a break from the company’s Government Leaders Forum — Americas on Wednesday to talk with me about global competitiveness, the government IT spending environment, prospects for cloud computing in government IT portfolios and more.

Earlier in the day, Mundie talked to the gathering of Latin American governors and ministerial-level leaders about using technology to improve health care and education. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates is scheduled to address the group, meeting in Leesburg, Va., on Thursday.

Here are edited excerpts from my talk with Mundie:

Q: You remarked on the idea that technology has been a great global leveler, contributing to developing nations’ transition from industrial and agricultural economies to knowledge-based economies. What’s available for people in this country who are facing layoffs now and want to compete on that global playing field that technology creates?

More

Comments | More in Cloud computing, Data centers, Education, Public policy & issues, Security & privacy, Strategy, Tech Economy

March 19, 2009 at 3:03 PM

Is March Madness on Demand, powered by Microsoft Silverlight, contributing to nationwide productivity drain?

Watching the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament on the Web at work is great. The on-demand player that CBSsports.com has built for March Madness on Demand, using Microsoft’s Silverlight, is not perfect, but it’s a great way to keep up with the tournament, live, while still “working.”

I think the people behind the player might take a bit of pleasure in facilitating this “borrowing” of work time. There’s a “Boss Button” on the player that brings up a spreadsheet. And the promo video that rolls when you launch the player exclaims something to the effect of, Forget that 2 o’clock meeting. There’s a 2 o’clock tip off.

(Microsoft announced a test version of Silverlight 3 yesterday, by the way.)

But is the tournament, which is now easier than ever to watch at work thanks to the Silverlight app, really the productivity sink it’s rumored to be? Staffing firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas floated an estimate of $3.8 billion in lost productivity for the 2006 tournament, a figure that many people questioned (though many others did not) and Jack Shafer, writing at Slate, picked apart.

More

Comments | More in Games & entertainment, Tech Economy, Video

March 17, 2009 at 11:08 AM

Computer science enrollment rebounds nationally and at UW

After reading yesterday’s New York Times report on increasing enrollment in the nation’s computer science programs, I pinged Ed Lazowska at the University of Washington to see what’s happening there.

“Our numbers are in fact much stronger than the national numbers,” he said via e-mail, introducing the chart below, which plots rolling enrollment in the UW’s introductory computer science course over the last four and a half years. (Incidentally, the data was compiled earlier this year at the request of Google.)

UWCSE enrollment.JPG

Lazowska added this perspective on the UW’s undergraduate programs:

More

Comments | More in Employees, Public policy & issues, Recruiting, Tech Economy

March 12, 2009 at 9:47 AM

Billionaire Bill, down $18 billion, is back on top of Forbes list

Scroogeswim.jpg The Forbes list of the world’s richest people is practically a rite of spring around here. Are we home to the richest, second richest or, gasp, third richest person in the world? This year, as billionaires around the world saw their fortunes cut by the global economic downturn, Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates lost the least among the top three — $18 billion — and edged back to the top spot on the list with about $40 billion in his money bin. Gates’ friend and partner-in-philanthropy Warren Buffett is No. 2 on the list, with $37 very large. (He had moved to No. 1 in last year’s survey.) Mexican business magnate Carlos Slim Helu, who surpassed Gates as world’s richest in summer 2007 (by a different estimate), is third on the global list with $35 billion. Another software titan, Larry Ellison of Oracle, leaped from 14th in 2008 to 4th, at $22.5 billion.

More

Comments | More in Bill Gates, Compensation, Financial, Miscellaneous, Personalities, Philanthropy, Steve Ballmer, Tech Economy

March 4, 2009 at 8:09 PM

Ballmer explains how investors are reacting to cost cuts; says WinMobile 6.5 ‘not the full release we wanted this year’; talks Windows 7 marketing

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer addressed a packed auditorium of public sector technology executives gathered at the company’s Redmond headquarters for its seventh U.S. Public Sector CIO Summit this week. He touched on some of the economic themes that have come up in several of his speeches recently, giving his take on funding for innovative ideas in a down economy and investors’ reactions to Microsoft’s cost-cutting measures. Ballmer also expressed some disappointment in the progress of Windows Mobile and gave his thoughts on marketing Windows 7. Read on for highlights.

More

Comments | More in Mobile, Steve Ballmer, Tech Economy, Windows 7, Windows Mobile, Windows Vista

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.

More

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

February 24, 2009 at 6:15 AM

Microsoft Strategic Update: Ballmer tells Wall Street more dramatic cost cutting would be ‘imprudent’

With Microsoft’s Redmond campus largely emptied out for the winter holidays, CEO Steve Ballmer crunched the numbers on the proper level of spending for his company against the current economic climate, which he has repeatedly referred to as a “reset” rather than just a recession. Ballmer said his own estimates for the weakness and duration of the downturn tend to be more severe than those of other business leaders he meets.

With that in mind, he settled on $27.5 billion of operating expenses — a level the company aims to hold relatively steady through the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, and during its 2010 fiscal year. Ballmer made clear to financial analysts meeting in New York this morning for the company’s annual strategic update that cutting back even more significantly — say to $20 billion — would be “imprudent.”

“I think this is right,” Ballmer said.

That should give some comfort to those wondering if the modest layoffs Microsoft announced last month were the beginning of a more significant reduction. Wall Street analysts and investors are pressuring companies in every industry to continue cutting costs as sales and profits slow dramatically.

The strategic update call just came to an end. Ballmer gave a detailed look at seven major business areas for the company. Check back here later this morning for more details.

Update, 7:50 a.m.: As he told Congressional Democrats earlier this month, Ballmer said Microsoft’s corporate strategists have been evaluating past downturns — particularly those driven by “deleveraging.” The team read company annual reports from 1927 to 1938 to determine who did a good job managing through the Great Depression. “RCA, God rest them in peace, became our role model,” Ballmer said. The company was able to dominate the television business because it continued to invest during bad times, he said.

Then he broke down how Microsoft plans to invest.

More

Comments | More in Advertising, Apple, Enterprise, Financial, Games & entertainment, Google, Microsoft layoffs, Mobile, Office, Online services, Open source, Search, Server and tools, Steve Ballmer, Strategy, Tech Economy, Windows, Windows 7, Windows Azure, Windows Mobile, Xbox 360, Yahoo acquisition, Zune

Next Page »