Microsoft lays off 62 testers
The layoffs are the second round for Windows testers in the past five months.
Seattle Times technology reporter
Microsoft is laying off 62 test engineers in the second round of cuts hitting Windows testers in the past five months.
The company has recently sent test work overseas, but a spokeswoman denied that's a factor. She said automation, not globalization, led to the cuts.
Microsoft notified the employees Tuesday and Wednesday last week, and the layoffs took effect Friday. The testers were given the option of staying, with pay, for six weeks while they look for other jobs in the company.
But finding other test jobs in the company may be a challenge.
The 62 work in the core operating system division, headed by Brian Valentine, a senior vice president. In the past, Valentine has called on managers to consider outsourcing work to India as a way to get more done for less cost.
Microsoft is outsourcing some test work to overseas companies such as Wipro, Infosys and Tata Consultancy in India. It's also expanding its overseas research and development facilities with a new campus opening this month in Hyderabad, India.
But spokeswoman Tami Begasse said there is no correlation between the tester layoffs and the company's growing use of workers abroad. She said the group was restructured because it's automating some testing tasks.
"It's not outsourcing related, offshoring related," she said. "It's simply they no longer meet the needs of this position."
The company initially told employees that 64 people were being laid off, but the number was later reduced to 62.
In September, the server group said it was cutting 93 positions as part of its move toward automated testing.
Separately, the company in August announced that it was laying off 76 employees in its Xbox division.
Layoffs used to be a rarity at Microsoft, but the company has become more aggressive about pruning its ranks. One factor is the push by executives to cut costs and adjust to the slower growth in the technology industry.
The Windows division has also embraced automated testing systems, including tools developed by the company's research group to check for software bugs.
Begasse said the move to automate some testing ultimately benefits customers.
"These changes are designed to improve the quality of our products and efficiencies in delivering them to customers, so the realignment demonstrates commitment to improving test-engineer efficiencies within that group," she said.
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