Microsoft lays off remaining handful of Microsoft Press staff

Microsoft has laid off almost all of the company's remaining Microsoft Press publishing staff. But Pearson is expected to keep the brand alive.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Word began leaking last week that Microsoft laid off the Microsoft Press team. And indeed, as IT Unity's Tony Redmond blogged on July 17, that is the case.


Though Microsoft officials aren't providing many specifics, they are confirming there were cuts via this rather vague statement from a spokesperson:

"The job reductions impacted a variety of roles and reflect adaptations to business needs. We go through this process in the most thoughtful manner possible, with the deepest respect for affected individuals."

I've heard from a couple of my contacts that the "entire Microsoft Press team" (minus one remaining person charged with working with outside suppliers) totaled six people. Microsoft officials wouldn't confirm how many individuals were cut when I asked.

At the height of the technical publishing industry, Microsoft Press employed a couple of hundred staff, sources say. In 2009, Microsoft Press struck a deal with O'Reilly Media, via which O'Reilly became the exclusive distributor of Microsoft Press titles and co-publisher of all Microsoft Press titles. O'Reilly was charged with helping develop new books and distributing existing and co-published books to bookstores and digital channels.

In 2014, Microsoft switched allegiances (I'm not entirely sure why) and announced Microsoft Press would be distributed instead by Pearson. Microsoft also announced that year that it would be partnering with Pearson VUE for testing.

For the past couple of years, Pearson had been handling sales and financials for Microsoft Press. During that time, the editing and production work on Microsoft Press titles was done by contractors, while the handful of Microsoft Press staff did acquisitions and project management.

There are a number of unanswered questions about Microsoft Press' future after the latest job cuts.

For one, what happens to Microsoft Press titles that were in process at the time?

My ZDNet colleague Ed Bott tweeted a day ago that "The MS Press brand will live on under Pearson" and that his MS Press title Windows 10 Inside Out 2nd Edition would still be out this October. Another Microsoft Press author I know said last week it was touch and go as to whether another planned title would be released, but it's looking like it will be after all.

With no acquisition editors now, will there be any new Microsoft Press titles released going forward? Microsoft isn't commenting.

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