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Microsoft cancels company picnic

As part of its broader effort to trim expenses, the software maker tells employees that it is axing the summer ritual.

A photo from Microsoft's 2007 company picnic. Flickr user Marc_Smith

When Microsoft said on Thursday that it had found more ways to trim expenses, it wasn't kidding.

The software maker notified its workers on Friday that it is canceling its annual summer picnic for Seattle-area workers.

Microsoft spokesman Lou Gellos said that the company made the move as part of its effort to pare its expenses and said workers were notified on Friday because this is around the time of year that the company typically sends out a reminder about the event.

Gellos noted that the event has become a growing logistical challenge as Microsoft's Puget Sound workforce has grown.

"It becomes a bigger and bigger issue every year," he said. The company now has about 41,000 workers in the region.

Gellos did not have an estimate on how much the event costs to produce, or what, if anything, Microsoft might do in its place. "We'll look to investigate ways we can have something to bring folks together, but not in the way we have in the past."

The yearly picnic was one of the few events that brought together the bulk of Microsoft's Puget Sound workforce, which is spread out over many different parts of the region, including Seattle, Bellevue, and Redmond. The company also has a company meeting, typically held in September, that takes place at Safeco Field, the home of the Mariners baseball team.

"We'll still have that because it's very business-oriented," Gellos said.

Microsoft has significantly trimmed its travel budget as well as its large bills for vendors and contractors, as well as announced plans to cut 5,000 workers over the next 18 months.

While leaders at EMC and Intel said they saw signs that the economic woes may have reached bottom, Microsoft's executives said on Thursday that they see continued pressures lasting through at least the rest of 2009.