Microsoft Earnings Fall Short As Computer Sales Sag

 

 

Microsoft on Tuesday said that its earnings in the recently ended quarter fell shy of expectations as personal computer sales suffered from production holdups in China and sagging demand.

The US technology giant reported profit of $16.7 billion on revenue of $51.9 billion, topping the same quarter a year earlier but missing market forecasts.

“While the headline slight miss will cause agita on (Wall) Street with a knee jerk reaction, this is largely foreign exchange and China shutdown driven (PC driven),” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said in a note to investors.

“The core DNA of the Microsoft growth story is cloud and core Azure growth which was healthy this quarter and appears to have momentum into 2023 despite economic headwinds.”

Microsoft shares were up some 4 percent in after-market trades that followed release of the earnings figures.

“In a dynamic environment we saw strong demand, took share, and increased customer commitment to our cloud platform,” said Microsoft chief financial officer Amy Hood.

Microsoft said that the strong US dollar made its offerings more costly in foreign markets, hurting sales.

Shutdowns at computer production facilities in China in May, and a deteriorating market for personal computers, cost Microsoft some $300 million in revenue it would have made from Windows operating systems bought to power the machines, the earnings report indicated.

The personal computer market had been in steady decline prior to the pandemic, as people turned to smartphones or tablets.

A massive shift to shopping, working, socializing and playing from home reignited demand for desktop computing power, but it remains to be seen whether that appetite will remain post-pandemic.

Ad revenue at Microsoft’s online news, search, and career social network LinkedIn suffered due to companies cutting marketing budgets due to broad economic woes, the company said.

The tech veteran based in the US state of Washington also logged $126 million in operating expenses related to scaling back its operations in Russia because of that country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Microsoft saw consumers spend less on Xbox videogame content in the quarter compared to the same period a year earlier, in a possible sign that many are out playing in the real world more as pandemic restrictions ease.

However, Microsoft’s cloud, business and productivity offerings continued to thrive.

“We see real opportunity to help every customer in every industry use digital technology to overcome today’s challenges and emerge stronger,” said Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella.

Nigeria Ready To Lead In Digital Technology – Buhari

L-R ( Minister of Communication and Digital Economy Mr Isa Pantami meets with President Muhammadu Buhari and Microsoft President, Brad Smith).

 

President Muhammadu Buhari says Nigeria is ready to lead in digital technology and is poised to welcome more initiatives and investments in the sector.

The President said this on Friday at the statehouse in Abuja when he received the President of the Microsoft Corporation, Mr Brad Smith, in the company of the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy Mr Isa Pantami.

Buhari also appreciated Microsoft for the $200 million African Development Centre set up in Lagos.

Giving his remarks, the Microsoft President said the company plans to train five million Nigerians in the future, noting that 60,000 people have already enrolled for the courses while another 300,000 have completed some courses.

“I have been informed that the African Development Centre in Nigeria is Microsoft’s first engineering hub in Africa as the current investment stands at about $200 million.

“I have also been informed of Microsoft’s skilling initiative that aims to train five million citizens and provide 27,000 jobs over the next three years. These initiatives are commendable and I urge you to expand them and continue to prioritize Nigeria as you roll out your global initiatives,” President Buhari was quoted as saying in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.

President Buhari told the visiting Microsoft team that as the largest economy and most populous country in Africa, Nigeria was positioned to play a strategic role in the global technology ecosystem and seek the right partnerships to harness the potentials.

He said one of such key partnerships was in the area of capacity building.

This administration, according to the President, has shown great commitment in providing a conducive environment for investors and the massive jump in the Global Ease of Doing Business Ranking was proof that the efforts were yielding positive results.

“Our emphasis on the development of our Digital Economy has also positioned the sector as a prominent factor in the Nigerian economy. As the fastest growing sector of the Nigerian economy in 2020, the Information and Communications Technology sector played a very important role in supporting our country to exit the recession triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are keen to build on the momentum as we continue to implement our National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, along with other related policies,” the President said.

See the photos below.

 

Microsoft To Train Five Million Nigerians In Three Years

President Buhari receives a presentation from President and Executive Vice Chairman, Microsoft Corporation Brad Smith alongside Hon. Minister of Communication and Digital Economy Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami during his audience with President of Microsoft Corporation in State House on 1st April 2022.

 

Tech giant, Microsoft says it will be training at least five million Nigerians in the next three years as part of efforts to help the country boost its digital technology.

Microsoft President, Brad Smith, said this on Friday when he visited President Muhammadu Buhari at the state house.

According to Smith, 60,000 people have already enrolled for courses while another 300,000 have completed some courses.

Read Also: Nigeria Ready To Lead In Digital Technology – Buhari

 

 

This comes weeks after the company launched a $200 million African Development Centre located in Lagos.

President Buhari commended the development, saying the country is happy to welcome more initiatives and investments in digital technology.

“I have been informed that the African Development Centre in Nigeria is Microsoft’s first engineering hub in Africa as the current investment stands at about $200 million.

“I have also been informed of Microsoft’s skilling initiative that aims to train five million citizens and provide 27,000 jobs over the next three years. These initiatives are commendable and I urge you to expand them and continue to prioritize Nigeria as you roll out your global initiatives,” President Buhari was quoted as saying in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.

 

L-R: Sr. Director, The Garage, Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), Linda Thackeray; Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Special Adviser to the Governor on Innovation and Technology, Mr. Olatunbosun Alake, during the opening of Microsoft’s New Facility – Africa Development Center (ADC West Africa), at Kings Tower, Ikoyi, on Monday, 21st of March, 2022.

 

He told the visiting Microsoft team that as the largest economy and most populous country in Africa, Nigeria was positioned to play a strategic role in the global technology ecosystem and seek the right partnerships to harness the potentials.

The President added that one of such key partnerships was in the area of capacity building.

According to him, his administration has shown great commitment in providing a conducive environment for investors and the massive jump in the Global Ease of Doing Business Ranking was proof that the efforts were yielding positive results.

“Our emphasis on the development of our Digital Economy has also positioned the sector as a prominent factor in the Nigerian economy. As the fastest growing sector of the Nigerian economy in 2020, the Information and Communications Technology sector played a very important role in supporting our country to exit the recession triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are keen to build on the momentum as we continue to implement our National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, along with other related policies.”

Apart from partnerships in the area of skills building, President Buhari said he looked forward to further partnerships that will support the digital infrastructure and innovation ecosystem, with regard to emerging technologies.

“I believe that this meeting will provide an opportunity to discuss how the Nigerian government can support the growth of your business here and how Microsoft can contribute to the growth of our economy through the active support of our policies and programmes,’’ he added.

President Buhari said he launched the Nigerian National Broadband Plan on the 19th of March 2020, with the aim of expanding broadband access across Nigeria and Microsoft’s connectivity initiative aligns with the plan.

“I believe it would be very useful and mutually beneficial to both Microsoft and Nigeria if your connectivity project is expanded beyond the current four locations in this country.

“Emerging technologies play a key role in digital transformation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution and a number of indigenous companies have developed very useful solutions. We are willing to partner with Microsoft to make Nigeria the epicenter for innovative emerging technology in Africa.’’

The President commended the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy and all industry stakeholders for their support for the sector.

“In order to sustain the momentum, I further direct that you and other stakeholders in the technology ecosystem keep government fully informed of your ongoing and proposed activities that support the growth of our digital economy.

“We have the potential of becoming your most lucrative market in Africa. As such, we urge you to continue to support the development of our digital economy. We also urge you to step up your Corporate Social Responsibility programmes and support for Research and Development that will enhance your services in Nigeria and on the African continent,’’ the President said.

In his remarks, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy said he represented President Buhari at the commissioning of the African Development Centre, adding that Microsoft had over 200 Nigerians working for them in the country, and Seattle.

Prof. Pantami noted that 320,000 Nigerians have also been trained on digital skills by the technology company.

The President of Microsoft and Vice Executive Chairman said the company will keep creating jobs to help build technology that will change the world, noting that the “multi-tasking approach’’ also stretches to digital infrastructure.

“We pledge to train five million people in Nigeria in the future,’’ Smith said, noting “60,000 people had already enrolled for courses while 300,000 had completed various courses.’’

The President of Microsoft said the company had gone into partnership with other companies to increase Internet and broadband penetration, while efforts have been advanced in innovating technology that will fight corruption and preserve cultural heritages, like languages.

Microsoft Suspends New Sales Of Products, Services In Russia

A Microsoft logo is displayed at the MWC (Mobile World Congress) in Barcelona on March 2, 2022. The Mobile World Congress, where smartphone and telecoms companies show off their latest products and reveal their strategic visions, is expected to welcome more than 40,000 guests over its four-day run.Josep LAGO / AFP

 

Microsoft is halting new sales of its products and services in Russia, the tech giant announced Friday, in the latest fallout over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Like the rest of the world, we are horrified, angered and saddened by the images and news coming from the war in Ukraine and condemn this unjustified, unprovoked and unlawful invasion by Russia,” Microsoft president Brad Smith said in a blog

More to follow . . .

Microsoft To Buy US Gaming Giant Activision-Blizzard For $69bn

In this file photo taken on May 20, 2021, a Microsoft logo adorns a building in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Eva HAMBACH / AFP
In this file photo taken on May 20, 2021, a Microsoft logo adorns a building in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Eva HAMBACH / AFP

 

Microsoft announced Tuesday a landmark $69 billion deal to purchase US gaming giant Activision Blizzard, grabbing the sex harassment scandal-hit firm as the tech colossus seeks to boost its power in video games.

Merging with troubled Activision will make Microsoft the third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony, it said, a major shift in the booming world of games.

“This acquisition will accelerate the growth in Microsoft’s gaming business across mobile, PC, console and cloud and will provide building blocks for the metaverse,” Microsoft said in a statement.

READ ALSO: Microsoft Shuts Down LinkedIn In China As Rules Tighten

Activision, the California-based maker of “Candy Crush” has been hit by employee protests, departures, and a state lawsuit alleging it enabled toxic workplace conditions and sexual harassment against women.

Over the past seven months the company has received about 700 reports of employee concerns over sexual assault or harassment or other misconduct, in some cases separate reports about the same incident, The Wall Street Journal has reported.

Nearly 20 percent of Activision Blizzard’s 9,500 employees have signed a petition calling for CEO Bobby Kotick to resign.

“Acquiring Activision will help jump start Microsoft’s broader gaming endeavors and ultimately its move into the metaverse with gaming the first monetization piece of the metaverse in our opinion,” Wedbush analysts said after the news broke.

Troubled Activision

“With Activision’s stock under heavy pressure (CEO related issues/overhang) over the last few months, Microsoft viewed this as the window of opportunity to acquire a unique asset that can propel its consumer strategy forward,” Wedbush added.

Microsoft has just marked 20 years of the “Halo” video game franchise that turned its Xbox console into a hit.

Microsoft launched a host of initiatives to mark two decades of both Halo and the Xbox, including a virtual museum exploring key moments in the console’s history.

Xbox remains a key player in a video game industry now thought to be larger than the movie sector, with market research firm Mordor Intelligence valuing it at $173.7 billion in 2020.

Troubles, meanwhile, have stacked up for Activision over its sex harassment and discrimination scandal.

In July, California state regulators accused the company of condoning a culture of harassment, a toxic work environment, and inequality.

In September the Securities and Exchange Commission launched a probe into the company over “disclosures regarding employment matters and related issues.”

And two months later the Journal reported that Kotick, accused of mishandling the harassment complaints, had signaled he would consider stepping down if he failed to quicky fix the company culture. He has led the company for more than three decades.

Late last year chief operating officer Daniel Alegre pledged a 50 percent increase in female and non-binary staff over the next five years so that they will account for more than a third of Activision’s workers.

 

AFP

Microsoft Shuts Down LinkedIn In China As Rules Tighten

This illustration file picture taken on July 24, 2019 in Paris shows the logo of the US social network application Linkedin on the screen of a tablet.  Martin BUREAU / AFP
This illustration file picture taken on July 24, 2019 in Paris shows the logo of the US social network application Linkedin on the screen of a tablet. Martin BUREAU / AFP

 

Microsoft on Thursday said it will shut down career-oriented social network LinkedIn in China, citing a “challenging operating environment” as Beijing tightens control over tech firms.

The US-based company will replace LinkedIn in China with an application dedicated to applying for jobs but without the networking features, according to senior vice president of engineering Mohak Shroff.

“We’re… facing a significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China,” Shroff said in a blog post.

According to the Wall Street Journal, LinkedIn was given a deadline by Chinese internet regulators to better oversee content on the site.

LinkedIn, which launched in China in 2014, lets people use personal and professional relationships to find job opportunities.

Chinese authorities have been targeting a range of homegrown tech behemoths for alleged monopolistic practices and aggressive harvesting of consumer data.

READ ALSO: US Rejoins UN Human Rights Council, Years After Walk-Out

The drive is part of a wider policy by the government to tighten its grip on the world’s number two economy, including targeting private education, property and casinos.

Microsoft will “sunset” the China version of LinkedIn and launch an InJobs application dedicated to connected professionals in that country with companies seeking employees, according to Shroff.

Microsoft bought LinkedIn for slightly more than $26 billion in 2016, and has worked to build a presence in China despite concerns about online censorship.

Facebook and Twitter have been banned in China for more than a decade.

Google left the country in 2010 in response to a hacking attack and censorship.

The website of e-commerce giant Amazon is accessible in China, but the market there is dominated by local players such as Alibaba and JD.com.

 

AFP

Microsoft Mandates Vaccinations For Workers

In this file photo taken on February 06, 2021 a health worker administers a vaccine dose at a drive through vaccination center at the Sambodrome Rio Carnival venue, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. CARL DE SOUZA / AFP

 

Microsoft on Thursday joined the ranks of tech companies requiring returning workers to be vaccinated, as Amazon delayed its plan to reopen offices until next year.

The earliest date for fully reopening Microsoft’s US facilities will be October 4, according to the computing giant based near Amazon in the state of Washington.

“Starting in September, we’ll also require proof of vaccination for all employees, vendors and any guests entering Microsoft buildings in the United States,” Microsoft said in response to an AFP inquiry.

READ ALSO: [COVID-19] China To Test ‘All Residents’ In Wuhan As Cases Soar

In this file photo Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos addresses the audience during a keynote session at the Amazon Re:MARS conference on robotics and artificial intelligence at the Aria Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 6, 2019. Mark RALSTON / AFP
In this file photo Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos addresses the audience during a keynote session at the Amazon Re:MARS conference on robotics and artificial intelligence at the Aria Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 6, 2019. Mark RALSTON / AFP

 

Microsoft and other tech firms said they are closely tracking the pandemic and adapting plans as the situation evolves, keeping employee health as a top priority.

E-commerce colossus Amazon confirmed that it is delaying return of employees to its corporate offices until January of next year instead of having them come back in September as originally hoped.

“We require employees to wear masks in our offices, with the exception of those who have verified full vaccination,” Amazon told AFP.

Google and Facebook last week said workers returning to offices will need to be vaccinated against Covid-19, in the latest move by firms and US government agencies.

Spikes in infections due to a Delta variant of the virus have ramped up concerns in the United States, where more than 600,000 people have died in the pandemic.

Google last week made campuses off-limits to unvaccinated employees and extend its global work-from-home option through October 18.

“Anyone coming to work on our campuses will need to be vaccinated,” Google chief executive Sundar Pichai said in a blog post.

Google and Facebook were among companies worldwide that abandoned campuses early last year, letting people work remotely rather than risk exposure to Covid-19 in offices.

“We will be requiring anyone coming to work at any of our US campuses to be vaccinated,” Facebook vice president of people Lori Goler said in response to an AFP inquiry.

“We will have a process for those who cannot be vaccinated for medical or other reasons and will be evaluating our approach in other regions as the situation evolves.”

Many unions and critics of mandates have spoken out against required vaccinations, citing personal freedom arguments.

Microsoft said that employees who are not vaccinated due to medical or religious reasons will be accommodated.

Rising pandemic concerns are also slowing the return to offices in the financial sector, with investment management giant Black Rock telling US workers it extended its “re-acclimating period” a month to the start of October.

Wells Fargo and US Bank have also delayed having employees return to offices, according to a CNN report.

AFP

China Says US Microsoft Hack Allegations ‘Fabricated’

 

 

China on Tuesday criticised the US for “fabricated” allegations that Beijing was behind the massive cyberattack on Microsoft.

“The US has mustered its allies to carry out unreasonable criticisms against China on the issue of cybersecurity, this move is fabricated out of nothing… (and) wholly motivated by political purposes,” said foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.

Pentagon Scraps $10 Billion Cloud Contract Amid Amazon-Microsoft Rift

This file photo taken on December 26, 2011 shows the Pentagon building in Washington, DC. STAFF / AFP
This file photo taken on December 26, 2011 shows the Pentagon building in Washington, DC. STAFF / AFP

 

The Pentagon said Tuesday it scrapped a massive $10 billion cloud computing contract, sidestepping a bitter dispute between Amazon and Microsoft over allegations of political bias that swayed the bidding.

A Defense Department statement said the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract was canceled because it no longer meets current needs and that it would start a process for a new “multi-cloud/multi-vendor” computing contract.

Microsoft in late 2019 won the contract, sparking a challenge by Amazon on grounds that vengeful politics by former president Donald Trump may have improperly influenced the outcome.

Officials said that instead of going forward with the deal in the face of litigation, the government would start over with the aim of getting the most up-to-date technology.

“JEDI, conceived with noble intent, was developed at a time when the department’s needs were different,” Defense Department spokesman John Sherman said during a press briefing.

“Now, we want to leverage multiple cloud environments.”

Sherman equated arming US “war fighters” with cutting-edge, 21st century cloud computing capabilities to providing top armor or weaponry, saying the technology landscape has shifted since the JEDI contract was stalled by litigation.

A statement said the Pentagon would seek proposals from Amazon and Microsoft on a new contract, noting that the two vendors appear at the moment to be the only cloud service providers capable of meeting the department’s requirements.

Staying on mission

The 10-year JEDI program was designed see all military branches sharing information in a cloud-based system boosted by artificial intelligence.

Amazon alleged it was shut out of the deal because of former president Donald Trump’s vendetta against the company and its chief executive Jeff Bezos.

Sherman maintained that it was urgent to move ahead and that “the overriding factor is not what may have happened in previous administrations; what was said or not said, the litigation.”

Amazon had been considered the lead contender to provide technology for JEDI, with Amazon Web Services dominating the cloud computing arena and the company already providing classified servers for other government agencies including the CIA.

Amazon argued in court documents that the Pentagon’s choice of Microsoft was mystifying if not for Trump’s repeated “expressed determination to, in the words of the president himself, ‘screw Amazon.'”

US defense officials will reach out to Amazon and Microsoft to solicit bids for parts of the new cloud contract, which Sherman said will have an overall value in the billions, without specifying an amount.

‘Difficult choice’

Microsoft president of US regulated industries Toni Townes-Whitley said in a post that the technology giant “respects and accepts” the decision.

“The DoD faced a difficult choice: Continue with what could be a years-long litigation battle or find another path forward,” Townes-Whitley said in a post.

“What matters now is the way forward, as the DoD has a critical unmet need to bring the power of cloud and AI to our men and women in uniform, modernizing technology infrastructure and platform services technology.”

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Amazon and Microsoft have already been deemed capable of meeting defense department needs for the new cloud initiative. Defense officials planned to also reach out to Google, Oracle, IBM and other computing titans to assess whether they are will and able to enter the bidding for some of the jobs.

The department aimed to begin awarding contracts early next year with a hope of having systems starting to deploy by 2025.

Microsoft will be able to submit a bill to the government for terminating the JEDI contract, the amount of which has not been determined, according to Sherman.

AFP

Microsoft Xbox To Work Directly On Internet-Linked TVs

 

Microsoft on Thursday said it is working on software to let people play Xbox video games on internet-linked televisions without the need of consoles.

The news came as Microsoft and other video game industry heavyweights prepare to show off coming titles at an annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) being held virtually beginning Saturday due to the pandemic.

“As a company, Microsoft is all-in on gaming,” chief executive Satya Nadella said in introducing the plan.

“Three billion consumers look to gaming for entertainment, community, creation, as well as a real sense of achievement, and our ambition is to empower each of them, wherever they play.”

READ ALSO: Saudi To Allow 60,000 Vaccinated Residents To Perform Hajj

Microsoft has been playing on the strength of its Xbox unit as it vies with Luna and Stadia cloud gaming services run, respectively, by Amazon and Google.

The Xbox team is working with TV makers to embed software that will let video games typically enjoyed on its consoles be played directly from the cloud, requiring only hand-held controllers, according to Microsoft.

The US-based technology giant also announced it is building devices that will plug into any television screen or computer monitor to stream Xbox gameplay without any consoles.

In coming weeks, cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscriptions will be possible through internet browsers Chrome, Edge, and Safari, according to Microsoft.

“There’s still a place for consoles and PCs and frankly, there always will be, but through the cloud, we will be able to deliver a robust gaming experience to anyone connected to the internet,” said Xbox unit head Phil Spencer.

“And with the cloud, gaming players can participate fully in the same Xbox experience as people on local hardware.

Xbox Game Pass had some 18 million subscribers worldwide at the end of last year, according to figures released by Nadella.

Video gameplay has surged during the pandemic, as people turned more than ever to the internet for entertainment.

Overall consumer spending on video gaming in the United States totaled just shy of $15 billion in the first quarter of this year, up 30 percent from the same period in 2020, according to industry tracker NPD Group.

Microsoft will stream an Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase on Sunday, featuring games from its studios around the world.

AFP

Microsoft Announces Retirement Of Internet Explorer

 

Microsoft said it is retiring Internet Explorer, the browser it created more than 25 years and which is now largely abandoned as people instead use competitors like Google’s Chrome or Apple’s Safari.

“We are announcing that the future of Internet Explorer on Windows 10 is in Microsoft Edge,” the company said in a blog post Wednesday, referring to its other browser.

“Not only is Microsoft Edge a faster, more secure and more modern browsing experience than Internet Explorer, but it is also able to address a key concern: compatibility for older, legacy websites and applications,” Microsoft said.

People ribbed Internet Explorer in tweets on Thursday.

“RIP Internet Explorer, I never used it, but after it dies we can’t make fun of it anymore,” wrote someone with the handle Arcader UwU.

“I still fondly remember how I used it to download Chrome on every new Windows system,” said Hrishikesh Pardeshi.

“This browser might seem old and outdated nowadays, but back in the day, everyone needed it. RIP Internet Explorer 1995-2022,” said someone called TheCool_ColdMan.

Microsoft said that as of June 15, 2022 Internet Explorer will be retired and no longer be supported by the company.

But Internet Explorer-based websites and applications will work with Edge at least until 2029, Microsoft said, because many organizations have websites based on the now-doomed browser.

Chrome, Google’s browser, controls 65 percent of the market, said Statscounter. Safari, created by Apple and available on Apple computers and devices, is second with nearly a 19 percent market share as of April of this year.

Firefox and Edge are in third and fourth place with 3.59 percent and 3.39 percent respectively.

 

Microsoft To Reopen HQ, Step Up In-Person Work Worldwide

CORTE MADERA, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 26: The showroom at Microsoft store sits empty on June 26, 2020 in Corte Madera, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP

 

Microsoft said Monday it would start reopening its headquarters offices next week and implementing a “hybrid workplace” that brings back more employees around the world after a year of remote work during the pandemic.

The move is the first formal reopening plan to be announced by Big Tech firms which have kept most employees on remote work where feasible during the past year.

“Our approach is data-driven and research-backed,” said a tweet from the tech giant which employs some 160,000 people worldwide.

“As of today, after over a year in which most Microsoft employees have worked remotely, several of our work sites around the globe have reached a stage that meets or exceeds government requirements to accommodate more workers,” executive vice president Kurt DelBene said in a blog post.

“Currently, Microsoft work sites in 21 countries have been able to accommodate additional workers in our facilities — representing around 20 percent of our global employee population. On March 29, Microsoft will also start making this shift at our Redmond, Washington, headquarters and nearby campuses.”

DelBene said the hybrid model would allow flexibility in allowing some employees to continue remotely while bringing back some to the office when conditions permit.

READ ALSO: EU Sanctions Myanmar Military Chief Over Coup

“At each of our global work sites, the hybrid workplace model strikes a balance, providing limited additional services on campus for those who choose to return, while supporting those who need to work remotely or feel more comfortable doing so,” he said.

“Our goal is to give employees further flexibility, allowing people to work where they feel most productive and comfortable, while also encouraging employees to work from home as the virus and related variants remain concerning.”

At the headquarters in the northwest state of Washington “we’ve been closely monitoring local health data for months and have determined that the campus can safely accommodate more employees on-site while staying aligned to Washington state capacity limits,” DelBene added.

Microsoft will adjust levels of in-person and remote work at each of its locations to factor in health conditions, with various stages of reopening.

A company survey found 54 percent of employees favored a “soft open” which gives people the option to spend a portion of time in the office.