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Last Updated: Friday, 30 June 2006, 09:11 GMT 10:11 UK
New Microsoft delay as posts go
Bill Gates
Microsoft is trying to be more efficient as competition increases
US computer giant Microsoft has said it is cutting 214 sales jobs as part of a wider plans to increase efficiency.

The firm said the latest reduction plan was not related to a delay in its business productivity software which was announced before the job cut news.

The launch date for the new Office 2007 software package will now be the end of 2006, not October as formerly planned.

Microsoft has already put back the release date for the consumer version of the new Office till early 2007.

Founder Bill Gates recently said he would step down from the day-to-day running of the office by July 2008.

Expansion trend

The cut in sales posts represents 5% of its sales force - but Microsoft will add a further 66 sales positions, said Lou Gellos, the firm's spokesperson.

Workers who are losing their jobs will have the chance to apply for the new positions, said Mr Gellos. The net job losses amount to 148 posts.

The Seattle-based firm has been making changes intended to make it more flexible and cost-effective as it faces increasing competition from rivals.

In May about 1,000 technology contract workers were informed they should not work for seven days - which meant not getting paid - in order for the firm to cut costs.

But such cuts are in contrast to the firm's overall trend of expanding. The firm's workforce stands at 70,000, from 63,000 in September 2005.

Shares in the firm closed 1.34% higher at $23.45 on Thursday.

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