The truth of the rumored Microsoft layoff should soon be revealed

Will Microsoft nix thousands of jobs in January or won't it? If it does, will this be called a layoff, or will it be named some sort of euphemism? The Wall Street Journal has set the rumor mill wildly spinning again today with yet more reports that a large-scale job reduction will soon materialize. Most expect that this will occur next week to appease increasingly frustrated investors around the time that Microsoft reports its next quarterly results to analysts, scheduled for January 22. Wall Street is currently expecting Microsoft to report revenue growth of around 5%, according to the WSJ.

Rumors of possible layoffs at Microsoft have been circulating for weeks, with the oft cited number of 15,000 as the speculative target. One analyst actually went so far as to recommend that Microsoft take the plunge and ditch 10% of its workforce, which would be about 9,000 jobs. But others -- including some inside Microsoft -- note that Microsoft doesn't have to institute a large-scale layoff in order to trim its workforce. It can, for instance, shed contract workers and use attrition -- leaving vacant jobs unfilled.

According to a story from Computerworld, Microsoft already uses "rolling layoffs." The story quotes Rob Helm, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft as saying,

"'The company always has a rolling layoff and that may accelerate.' Microsoft tends to regularly reorganize its operational divisions and working teams, Helm continued, with the idea that the lowest-rated workers in the company's review system are then shoved out the door. 'When the company reorganizes, some people don't have chairs when the music stops,' said Helm. 'We may see some more of that activity.'"

According to a story in Network World, the process of the non-layoff workforce reduction has already begun.

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