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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

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February 6, 2007 5:14 PM

Mini-Microsoft surfaces for a lookback

Posted by Brier Dudley

Apparently all the fumbles in the Super Bowl inspired Mini-Microsoft to share his thoughts on Vista finally shipping, and review Microsoft's accomplishments since he began blogging in 2004.

It's a great post, but he concludes with his usual rant about Microsoft needing to cut about half its workers.

I think he's dreaming if he thinks that Microsoft or any other big business can prune itself to eliminate frustrating bureaucracy and underperformers.

The massive downsizing scenario is scary when you think about what it would mean to everyone else around here.

Microsoft doesn't have a responsibility to keep the Seattle-area economy afloat. But if the company suddenly shrunk by half, it would be a crisis and create huge uncertainty for people and companies around here, especially now that clouds are forming over the housing market.

There's also a risk that downsizing would create even more angst, nasty internal politics and paralysis at Microsoft. Ask employees what happened to the culture of Hewlett-Packard under Carly Fiorina, or closer to home, at AT&T Wireless before it was sold to Cingular in 2004. Google recruiters would be thrilled.

I wouldn't be surprised if Steve Ballmer dials down the hiring growth, though, and maybe even cuts back now that the big products are out the door and the Windows development process is being streamlined.

Microsoft is also going to be spending heavily to lure customers to its online businesses. Would Ballmer compensate for those costs by trimming headcount?

That might be good news to Mini, but it gives me the shivers.

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Gadgets and games | Fun stuff I've written about lately includes Apple's iPhone, Hewlett-Packard's HDX laptop and Microsoft's Halo3. Also on the radar are new digital video boxes such as the Tivo HD and the Vudu.