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Microsoft begins small number of job cuts

Redmond makes a series of reductions in various departments as it begins a new fiscal year, but widespread layoffs aren't expected, sources said.

Microsoft on Wednesday began cutting a small number of jobs from its workforce, a source confirmed to CNET.

As previously reported, the layoffs are not expected to be the start of mass cuts, but are more similar to the types of reshuffling that the company does each year as it begins a new fiscal year. Microsoft started fiscal 2011 on July 1.

Microsoft has declined to comment on the cuts or say how many jobs are affected. However, a source told CNET that, even with the cuts, the company still expects to grow its ranks overall this year as it hires in other areas The company has also been growing its workforce in the past six months, after slashing thousands of jobs last year amid the global economic downturn. Those cuts, announced in January 2010, were the first widespread, across-the-board cuts in the company's history.

Although the job cuts this year are small, they are drawing particular attention because they come amid several pieces of negative news for Redmond, including the departure of two top Entertainment and Devices executives and the cancellation of the Kin phone just weeks after its debut.

Some of those whose jobs were cut and other company watchers have been sounding off on the comments page of the blog hosted by anonymous Microsoft internal critic Mini-Microsoft. Word of the pending job cuts was first reported by Seattle-area technology news site TechFlash.

It will be interesting to see what Microsoft has to say--and the numbers it reports--when the company announces its earnings report later this month. While it has had an avalanche of negative press around its long-term future, the company's short-term numbers could be quite strong, given the debut of Office 2010 and continued strong PC sales.

Anyone out there have more details on today's cuts? Drop me a line at Ina (dot) Fried (at) CNET (dot) com.

Update at 2:39 p.m. PDT: In a follow-up post, TechFlash says the cuts are in the hundreds globally, including several hundred in the Seattle area.