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The second phase of Microsoft's layoffs is all about focus

Mary Branscombe | Sept. 24, 2014
As details of the second round of Microsoft layoffs have trickled out, the only obvious pattern has been cutting back on what's not core to the platforms and productivity focus that CEO Satya Nadella has been emphasizing (or the explicitly protected Xbox side of the house), plus further tidying up of which teams sit where.

So the thought that Microsoft would back away from that commitment was worrying. Microsoft's John Lambert took to Twitter to reassured people that "all your TwC is still here. SDL, operational security, pentest, MSRC, Bluehat are just under a new roof." The other parts of the Trustworthy Computing Group that looked after privacy and policy found a new home under general counsel Brad Smith, the Microsoft lawyer who has been leading Microsoft's privacy campaign in courts and at legal events around the world.

That division actually makes sense, but like the rest of the Microsoft layoffs it hasn't been well communicated. Employment law means a company has to tell the employees who are being laid off first, and explaining layoffs in detail is one way of inviting commenters to nitpick every single decision, but it wouldn't hurt for Microsoft to explain how these layoffs fit its priorities.

In the long run, these are probably all sensible decisions for Microsoft, which has often taken far too scattergun an approach to what it works on. With research teams around the world working on everything from voice recognition to quantum computing, Microsoft is never going to have a narrow focus. Painful as the layoffs are, especially to the people who no longer have a job, they do come mostly in areas that just aren't that important for Microsoft's future.


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