Microsoft bucks layoff trend, plans to hire 5,000

Bucking the trend of corporate downsizing in the face of a struggling economy for IT companies, Microsoft on Thursday said it plans to hire another 5,000 developers in the next year.

The announcement comes as other major technology companies, including Intel Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co., continue to announce layoffs. The hiring plans were alluded to in Microsoft's quarterly financials conference call with analysts and reporters last week. Company Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates offered the 5,000 figure for new developers at a meeting with analysts Thursday and the company also issued a written announcement regarding its plans.

Microsoft also said Thursday that spending on research and development during fiscal year 2003 will reach about US$5.2 billion, a 20 percent boost over fiscal year 2002, which ended June 30. The extra spending on research and development is expected to consume more than 16 percent of the company's net revenue, it said.

Microsoft estimated during its earnings conference call last week that it would earn $32.4 billion in revenue during fiscal 2003.

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