SEATTLE, Sept 12 Microsoft Corp is
laying off dozens of contract and freelance writers from its MSN
news and entertainment portal as the giant software company
seeks to reshape itself as a devices and services company.
A spokesperson for the company confirmed the layoffs but
declined to specify the number or comment further. A person
familiar with the situation said the cuts could affect more than
100 people in all.
The pruning of MSN writers, who contribute end edit columns,
blogs and features to the site, comes just two months after
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced a radical reorganization
of the company, which is only now starting to take effect.
Microsoft's online services unit, chiefly consisting of the
Bing search engine and MSN portal, is in line for a shake-up as
it has never been profitable and has lost almost $3 billion in
the last two years alone. Some investors have pressed for a sale
of the unit.
The MSN site has been stagnating for the past year, with its
U.S. monthly unique visitors stuck at about 116 million, while
the more popular Yahoo Inc and AOL Inc portals
are growing faster, according to figures from industry research
Microsoft beefed up its MSN news operation only a year ago
in preparation for the launch of Windows 8. The company wanted
to grow its ability to generate online content after last
summer's sale of its 50 percent stake in news website MSNBC.com
to longtime partner NBCUniversal, now majority-owned by Comcast