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Microsoft shutterbugs shoot for a cause

Hundreds of photographers who work at the software maker team up to create a fine-art book to raise money for the United Way.

Over the years, Microsoft employees have done a lot of things to raise money for the company's annual giving campaign. There have been cell phone tossing contests, executive dunkings, and even an auction to get one's name in an Xbox game.

This year, though, a group of photographers from across the company has come together to produce a fine-art book. Their creation, "Photographers@Microsoft 2009," is available from

More than 900 photos were submitted for the book, and 157 were chosen. We put a couple dozen in our photo gallery, but the photos are all amazing.

The book is being sold to both those inside Microsoft and the general public. The creators all donated their work, with the book selling for $25 over the cost of printing, with all profits going to the United Way.

Initially, the group hoped to raise $10,000 by selling 200 of the books. However, they reached that goal on the second day of the campaign, which runs for several more weeks.

Microsoft also donates money for each hour employees put into volunteering, contributing $17 an hour for each hour their workers volunteer, up to a total of $12,000 per employee per year.

Overall, Microsoft and its workers raised more than $87.7 million last year. This year, the Softies are hoping to top that, with events including a "rock, paper, scissors" competition, a poker tournament, and an online auction (built on Windows Azure, of course) where employees can bid on everything from lunch with a top executive, to the loan of an executive's car, and even coveted parking spaces.

I know, for a fact that MBD boss Stephen Elop has his eye on one of the parking spots under Building 36, although he assures me that out-bidding him is not a career-limiting move.