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Ballmer, Gates get salary boosts

Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer and Chairman Bill Gates both receive salary increases and bonuses this fiscal year despite a challenging economy.

Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer and Chairman Bill Gates both received salary increases and bonuses this fiscal year, as the company weathered a challenging environment and its stock price outperformed the Nasdaq.

Ballmer received a salary boost to $494,076 this year, a 15 percent increase from last year. But his cash bonus fell to $171,444, down from $200,000 last year. His total cash compensation reached $665,520 for the year.

Gates, meanwhile, saw his salary increase to $494,992, up 13 percent from last year. But his cash bonus also fell--to $171,762 this year from $200,000 last year.

The salary gains and bonuses come as the software giant has outperformed the Nasdaq and managed to keep its stock from entering a steep spiral that has engulfed so many tech companies.

Microsoft managed to beat Wall Street's expectations and its own revenue expectations when it reported fourth-quarter results last July.

Both executives, who hold sizable stakes in the company, continued the practice of forgoing stock options. Ballmer virtually maintained his stake at 4.4 percent, or 239.4 million shares, and Gates reduced his stake by 9.6 percent, to 661.7 million shares. Gates now holds a 12.3 percent stake.

Microsoft shareholders who invested $100 in the company in 1996 would find their investment worth $486 today, while a similar investment in the Nasdaq would equate to $251. As expected, both investments would be down from last year, when that Microsoft investment would have been worth $544 and the Nasdaq investment $533.

Microsoft shares closed regular trading Thursday down 31 cents, or less than 1 percent, to $49.96. The software giant's shares are off from their 52-week high of $79.15.