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January 21, 2009 8:36 PM
Posted by Benjamin J. Romano
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."
September 2004: 93 positions in the Windows Server group eliminated as the company automated more testing. 44 new positions were created at the same time.
August 2004: 76 positions were cut in the Xbox group as Microsoft closed its sports video game studio. It was part of a broader reduction of the company's game creation efforts as third-party studios began developing more titles for the original Xbox.
June 2004: 20 recruiting positions were eliminated as part of human-resources department restructuring.
January 2002: 168 positions were lost when Microsoft pulled the plug on its UltimateTV effort. It was described at the time as one of the largest layoffs in Microsoft's 27-year history.
January 1998: 30 to 40 full-time workers at 10 Sidewalk city guides offices were cut as the company learned to operate the effort more efficiently, a spokesman said. The company planned to expand the online guides to more cities in subsequent years.
January 1996: 120 employees at a Bothell floppy-disk manufacturing plant were given layoff notices as more software was being produced on CD-ROM.
Seattle Times researcher David Turim contributed to this report.