Microsoft Lays Off 62 Windows Testers

Despite Windows Longhorn development being ramped up in preparation for Beta 1, Microsoft has given pink slips to 62 internal beta testers. Microsoft says the layoffs, which affect the company's Windows division, are the result of a push towards more automated testing environments and not outsourcing.

According to a Seattle Times report, Microsoft didn't give much notice; the company contacted employees last Tuesday and Wednesday, and the layoffs took effect by Friday. Testers can choose to stay on the Redmond campus for an additional six weeks, but must find another job within that period.

Rumors have been circling that Microsoft is sending some testing jobs overseas, but company representatives deny the correlation saying new technology allows Microsoft to automate tasks that previously required personnel.

Jupiter Research senior analyst Joe Wilcox, however, questions the decision.

"Automated testing might appear good, if viewed as the most cost-effective approach. But when evaluating a new operating system and all the interaction with different hardware and software products, I would want to use live testers," Wilcox told BetaNews.

This month's round of layoffs are not the first cuts Microsoft has made to its testing pool. The company axed 93 test positions in its Windows Server division last September.

"I find the timing of the layoffs to be perplexing, considering that Microsoft has yet to release anything close to a beta version of Longhorn," Jupiter's Wilcox added. "I would think the time is rapidly approaching when the most Windows testers would be needed."

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