Last year, Microsoft announced that it was going to hire 10,000 new employees to fuel growth — a statement of its intention to keep challenging the competition by cornering the market for bright young graduates, and an admission that, in some areas, it was running short of people.
But the questions remained: what was Microsoft going to do with all those people? The answer came on Wednesday as Todd Bishop of the Seattle Post-Intelligencers published an early breakdown of where these people are now working within the Microsoft organisation.
To compile the figures, Bishop took the company's annual Form 10-K filing and looked at the figures for employees in the last fiscal, then compared them to the figures for fiscal 2006, which ended at the end of June this year.
Looking at these figures, the big winner in percentage growth terms was general and administration, which grew by 40 percent. But percentages are often misleading and headcount growth was only 2,000.
The big winners overall were the key area of product research and development, which grew by 4,000 (17 percent), and what some would argue was the equally important area of sales and marketing, which also grew by 17 percent with another 3,000 people.
Product support and consulting grew by 8 percent, or 1,000 people.
On his blog, Bishop points out that one of the reasons Microsoft has paid special attention to product research and development this year may be to make up "for... earlier lack of growth".
Comparing Microsoft with other companies is a difficult challenge. The 10,000 new hires took Microsoft up to 71,555. In comparison with another software company — SAP, for example — and noting that Microsoft's income is in a different league, Microsoft does not look especially bloated against SAP's 35,873.
Comparing it to a company that has a more comparable turnover only illustrates how efficient the software company is. IBM achieved quarterly revenues of more than $20bn earlier this year, compared to Microsoft's $10.9 bn in the three months to April, but it needs 329,000 employees.