By Barry Levine / CIO Today. Updated July 16, 2014.
Employees of tech titan Microsoft are undoubtedly hunkering down. Redmond is widely expected to announce significant layoffs sometime this week.
If the layoffs are in the ballpark being discussed -- in excess of five or six thousand -- they could be the largest from the company since 2009. At that time, Microsoft cut 5,800 jobs, which then represented about 5 percent of the company. Currently, Microsoft has just over 127,000 employees.
Bloomberg News, citing "people with knowledge of the company's plans," has reported that cuts will be made in divisions that overlap with newly acquired Nokia, such as engineering and marketing. Reportedly, details are still being worked out. Microsoft has not commented on the report.
100 Nokia Jobs
But it's not just Microsoft-proper employees who are getting cut. Reuters news service has noted that, according to a Finnish newspaper, 1000 Nokia jobs are being eliminated in Finland, including about half from a now-closed research and development unit in the northern part of that country.
About 4,700 of the newly acquired 25,000 Nokia employees work in Finland. The others are dispersed throughout 50 countries.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who succeeded Steve Ballmer, has said that his company needs to become more efficient, with a greater focus on mobile, cloud, and productivity.
Last week, Nadella sent a long memo to employees that asked them to "reinvent productivity."
He has said that "nothing is off the table," leading to some speculation that the employee cuts may go beyond what is needed to avoid duplication with Nokia. For instance, there are rumors that cuts could also be applied to personnel who work on marketing for Xbox.
In the memo, Nadella also said, "Organizations will change. Mergers and acquisitions will occur. Job responsibilities will evolve. New partnerships will be formed. Tired traditions will be questioned."
Laptops, Wind Energy, Kubernetes
One new tradition was established this week following an announcement at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference: cheap Windows laptops. The company said that an HP Stream Windows-based laptop would be released in September, priced at $199. Additionally, at least two $99 Windows tablets are in the pipeline.
Windows machines are being hit hard by the rise of Chromebooks which, according to a recent report from The NDP Group, account for about a third of all channel sales in the first five months of this year.
In other Microsoft news, the company announced Wednesday that it is purchasing 175 megawatts of wind energy from the Pilot Hill Wind Project in Illinois. This represents the company's largest financial commitment to wind so far, and the electricity will be used to power Microsoft's Chicago data center.
The tech giant has also announced support for an open source software tool called Kubernetes, used to help manage cloud computing services. The move is attracting a bit of attention because it was created by arch-rival Google and is used only with open source OS Linux.