Microsoft’s Ballmer On H1-B Visas, Immigration

Microsoft's Ballmer on H1-B Visas, Immigration

Don Sears
June 18, 2009

The Detroit Free Press recently interviewed Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer who asked him why Microsoft in 2007 built a research and development facility in Canada–over the border in Vancouver–not that far from Microsoft's quarters in Redmond, Wash.

Why not build it in the United States? Ballmer's response:
While the Canadian R&D credit may have been a factor, it wasn't the deciding one, Ballmer said. That would be immigration policy…

“We opened the lab in Vancouver,” Ballmer said, “because we were having trouble getting visas for the best and the brightest to come to Seattle. The Canadian government said, 'We're happy to have those people.' ”

“It's a bit goofy,” he said, “because for every person we hire to be an engineer, there's probably another four or five people who we employ at Microsoft. There's another set of people employed in the community in construction and housing and retail, a bunch of different industries.”

In 2008, Microsoft employed more than 78,000 individuals. According to Fortune, Microsoft employs 47,645 in the United States and 30,920 in other countries. Microsoft has said publicly that less than 15 percent of its U.S. work force are H1-B visa holders–which would put the total number of visa holders in the 6,000 to 7,000 range.

The United States has a cap on visa holders at less than 15 percent, so Microsoft is maximizing its use of visas, but consistently lobbies the government for more. The claim? It just can't find enough talent in this country. Ballmer appears to be beating on that visa drum again in this DFP story. Again, from the article:
“”I don't care whether they're American-born or Indian-born or Russian-born. I want to pay them to work in the U.S. That's why I'm trying to get 'em a visa…. I'm not trying to ship the job to India.”

But Microsoft will locate the job in India, or Canada or wherever it can get the best talent.

Canada is well known for its generous R&D tax credit poilicies and the U.S. wavers on it frequently. From a Scitax Advisory Partners report entitled “North American Politicians Recognize R&D Tax Credits as a Useful Economic Fix”:
The low priority afforded this issue is witnessed by the fact that Washington has let its Research & Experimentation (“R&E”) tax credit expire no less than 13 times since it was originally enacted into law in 1981. In Canada – and most other countries with similar credits – R&D tax credits are fixed in legislation. But in the US, congress must vote on renewing the R&E tax credit every year. And frequently they vote against renewing it, which means technology companies can't really count on it.

Canada's R&D tax credits may be more significant than Ballmer wants the public and U.S. government to believe.

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Posted by Donald Sears on June 18, 2009 9:06 AM


Comments (47)

Mike :

His translation of there isn't enough engineers in the states roughly means they don't want to pay for the engineers and they think they are too expensive and want to water down those high tech/high talent with third world countries overpopulation and sticking them in through a high tech boot camp to train them to bypass formal education expense.

Engineers here cost so much because of the education – go after lowering the education system and making it more efficient which is the source.

Posted by Mike | June 18, 2009 4:11 PM
Sandmich :

If he's running short he could hire some of the few thousand people he's fired this year.

Posted by Sandmich | June 23, 2009 12:52 PM
Sergio :

For all the Microsoft's “brilliant” employees, I will take 10 employees from Apple or Google!

Posted by Sergio | June 23, 2009 12:53 PM
Jim :

Ditto Mike. Poor leadership always deflects their inadequacies, failures, and slipping market share on everyone but themselves. I bet his compensation and stock plan doesn't reduce to the same level as the hacks they are trying to employ. What a legacy, take over a virtual monopoly and run it into the ground blaming everyone around you. All that is left in completing the IBM model is laying off the mid levels who refuse to go train them.

Posted by Jim | June 23, 2009 12:54 PM
Bala :

Ballmer is absolutely right. Let him sell his OS and tools in India and China for the price he is hiring the people to work for. Let him deal with the piracy and it will open his eyes. I agree with Mike that he wants cheap labor, not talent. May be Ballmer should out source Microsoft CEO job as well to India or Russia it will be very cheap.

Guys if you are reading this post, there is an alternative to Microsoft, Apple and/or Linux. These (Apple/Linux/Adobe) guys are not complaining that they are not finding talent in US, are they?

I am seriously ditching Microsoft and changing my laptops, computers, and tools to Apple or Linux in the next 6 months. Adios Microsoft.

Posted by Bala | June 23, 2009 12:56 PM
Kevin :

I don't believe the technology CEOs when they claim there is not enough talent here. They don't want to hire the engineers we produce. I say this as a former technology educator in higher education. The high cost of college education and the failure of the public school system to better prepare prospective engineers deters many.

I agree with the (Mike's) previous comment. Perhaps the US should tie the R&D tax credit to the utilization of US educated engineers. Let's put the emphasis on increasing the pool by providing an incentive to train more here.

Posted by Kevin | June 23, 2009 12:56 PM
Anonymous :

Well Folks! This is a preview of what happens when you let unskilled labor come in thousands without any control and refuse skilled labor to migrate! Sooner or later you will become a pool of lesser skilled labor.

In every major corporation in the U.S, more than 50% of the revenues come from outside the U.S. Many of the high paying jobs you have here now are still around because someone elsewhere is buying your product. You can bury your head in the sand or you can wake up and smell the coffee!

For every Microsoft job created in Vancouver instead of Seattle, there are 20 other jobs, coffee shops, supermarket, landscaping. roofing, plumbing, restaurant, goods, services jobs created in Vancouver instead of Seattle.

As long as you keep blaming every one of your ills on immigration and refuse to see the real problems you have, you will get poorer and poorer. Companies like Microsoft will set up offices elsewhere and make money. The losses are all yours!

Posted by Anonymous | June 23, 2009 12:59 PM
JimF :

R&D tax credits shouldn't be extended to companies that transfer intellectual property, developed with that US taxpayer money, to other countries.

Posted by JimF | June 23, 2009 1:00 PM
Rob M :

Can't find enough talent? What a load of BS. As one of the many engineers that he laid off this year I can attest to the fact that this is a lie. We're in recession and unemployment is sky rocketing. Ballmer and CEOs like him should be ashamed of themselves for trying hire more offshore engineers in an effort to line their pockets while they get rid of their American workforce.

Posted by Rob M | June 23, 2009 1:18 PM
Jon E :

So Mr. Ballmer, if what you say is true, why did you lay off tens of thousands of U.S. based employees?

Posted by Jon E | June 23, 2009 1:21 PM
Ray :

Microsoft is typical of what many USA-based companies have become – a non-American company. They have no national allegiance. While they have an incentive and a duty to their shareholders to be profitable, they also have a duty to the USA to behave in a manner that is advantageous to the USA as we compete (yes, compete, with the other nations of the world. It is not one world; nor is it likely to ever be so.

Microsoft is reaping the benefits of being a USA company without demonstrating any recognition of its obligations as a corporate citizen (of the USA – not of the world). Ballmer's, and before him Gate's, argument that there are not enough qualified American engineers is nonsense. Microsoft simply wants engineers who will work for a bowl of rice a day. In this they are no different than many other product development companies.

It is very apparent to those of us who are independent contractors. We used to be asked about our experience and skill sets. Now the first question we hear is “Will you work for one half the Y2000 rate?”. It is likely apparent to those who are W2 employees even though their screening process is somewhat different.

This is crippling America. You can't have the money trickle down if you are replacing the top earners with slave labor. Government interventing is required to fix this. The intervention must be to stop interfering with the marketplace by allowing these aliens to steal American jobs. Their is no option. To fail to do so will destroy our technical dominance of this planet within a generation. Or perhaps this is the intent of one-worlders like Gates and Ballmer.

Posted by Ray | June 23, 2009 1:21 PM
SK :

If we want to pay our own people what they deserve, and we should, then to compete globally what we do need is a low-cost business eco-system with low corporate tax structure and suitable tax breaks: Not only subsidize R&D activity in general, but also give tax breaks for new inventions, innovations, exports, jobs retained, jobs sustained, jobs created, … otherwise the axe will always fall on simple headcount and labor arbitrage. Our policies need a new mind-set.

Posted by SK | June 23, 2009 1:24 PM
John :

I think some of the audience needs a lesson on how to interpret an article.

The report's question is why is the MS R&D facility in Canada instead of USA? The answer was simple, Canada has reliable R&D tax incentives and USA does not. What's funny is that the reporter decided to turn Ballmer's answer into an analysis of MS H1-B visa numbers.

Ballmer was pointing out that he would rather support local US economy by building and hiring in US and spur associated local economy but that would be a bad business decision due to more favorable tax condition in Canada. His argument is further strengthened by the proximity of the Vancouver R&D facility to Redwood.

He made the proper business decision. This is not about H1-B numbers since MS is already maximizing those numbers in other USA facilities.

Posted by John | June 23, 2009 1:24 PM
Steve :

I am disappointed in how quickly companies are willing to abandon local employess talented or not. Part of rebuilding our economy will be dependent on rebuilding our workforce. I would rather train people and make a difference in my world than only hire one individual who we become so dependent on that they can destroy a single company by mistake or intent. That does not mean I don't want to hire talented people but I believ in growing talent. Growing skill is not always the cheap way to do it but sometimes it is the right way. It is like the old idea that you can give a man a single fish and he has a meal or you can teach him how to fish and he becomes self sufficient, the better choice but not the easy one.
Lets try to employ and grow local talent and help take care of people not just bottom lines.

Posted by Steve | June 23, 2009 1:26 PM
MB :

Why does he not assign some of these “brilliant” minds to the help desk?

Posted by MB | June 23, 2009 1:27 PM
Anonymous :

I think immigration is good, bring in talented people to build up the skills in the US; unfortunately, that is not what H1B visa's are. They are temporary so the people must return home with the skills learned in the US.

Posted by Anonymous | June 23, 2009 1:35 PM
J :

Ballmer is playing the game… And the government is complicit in failing to manage the national issue of lost employment. That IBM was able to say “move to india and we will hire you” is the obvious indicator, and should be criminal. Let the cost of hiring from overseas go thru the roof… because we have the talent here and CEOs are simply acting on price. We created the technology and most practitioners are not near retiring… State universities should overcharge even more for overseas tuition. The bias must be toward citizen employment and fixing the education system… not bending over for corporate america. We will only recover our technological lead by getting local citizens working and getting youth interested in tech again – by getting the job market back for citizens! The government has a duty to the people, its actual constituents… pretending that lobbyists and corporations are voters is abdication. In this new economy, government needs to ACT NOW… before our tax base and prosperity disappears into the global void. We do not need to become a has-been country… and policy can slow the pace of movement and preserve our future. Write your congressman!

Posted by J | June 23, 2009 1:37 PM
J :

No doubt we also need ot fix the lesser-skilled immigration issue; Already we are figuring out that almost any job is better than no job… The burden on the schools, on medical care, and other infrastructure easily overrides the need for social security funding. That system is held up by tissue paper and we need to let it crash… The difficult bite here needs to be taken – we can not keep looking the other way on bad policy and implementation as our economy and workforce takes a beating.

Posted by J | June 23, 2009 1:41 PM
DaveS :

For years now I have personally moved away from as many Microsoft Products as possible. We run Redhat Servers, Ubuntu on Desktops, Laptops, and Netbooks, and a few MacOS instances. Unfortunately, there are a few app vendors that have not yet gone away from a purely Windows implementation, so I have a few Windows VMs to handle those few apps. So, for the most part it is possible to move away from Windows.

I applaud Bill Gates for his philantrophy, but, I have always felt that Microsoft has done a poor job with quality control, outsourced more “low-cost” labor, and ignored a huge talent pool of Engineers here in the U.S. And for all that, we get overpriced, bloated products with features that we do not need, or want. Or, worse yet, you have to upgrade to a re-skinned OS or Office Product that takes time to retrain and retool employees.

Posted by DaveS | June 23, 2009 1:48 PM
Basil :

As a native of Vancouver with 25 years in IT, I can tell you that our wonderful “open” policy that Ballmer is enjoying has had its effect: people like me get bounced out of jobs all the time by foreigners who will take $12.00 an hour because their real pay is their eventual citizenship in Canada, along with passports for their moms, dads, and siblings, and the free medical care they get when they're here.

It's a great deal with a total lifetime value of $500,000, according to researchers. I recently had a potential employer tell me that I was the first Canadian they'd considered for a job in ten years.

They hired a Romanian.

Welcome to the race to the bottom.

Posted by Basil | June 23, 2009 1:49 PM
Myrtle :

Change the tax credit so that they receive credit for hiring Americans and you'll see him beating a different drum. The talent exists here, they just don't want to pay for it.

Posted by Myrtle | June 23, 2009 1:51 PM
ChrisH :

Mike has it wrong. They are not looking for cheap engineers. They are looking for people up to the task. The US education system is not as good as you think. (just look at the numbers of forigen Engineers in Boeing, Lockheed etc)

Posted by ChrisH | June 23, 2009 1:58 PM
Forrest :

The anti-immigration bell has been rung for well over 150 years, and it usually has more than a tinge of “those dirty _______s” (content dependent on the times).

The US has made a great deal of money from taking the world's best and brightest. We need to make it easier for worker immigration, while doing a better job keeping out criminals (e.g., Mexican drug gangs now terrorizing Phoenix). It will overall increase America's employment and bring in much needed young, legal workers making good salaries into the Social Security system. The US immigration policies are as stupid as its taxation policies on expatriates: it makes people happy but it actually reduces America's ability to compete and defend herself.

Posted by Forrest | June 23, 2009 1:59 PM
Anonymous :

To all the people who are crying in the name of foreign labor etc. they must understand that Microsoft is a private enterprise. Their 'only' goal is to make money. if they are interested in cheap labor and not the talent, it's their choice to pick between the two. They'll do whatever makes more sense in business, if US will not give them opportunity they'll not hesitate to move to somalia, but who are we to blame him ??

Posted by Anonymous | June 23, 2009 2:20 PM
DuaneG :

Ballmer is wrong, wrong, wrong. Several good points have been mentioned in the comments so far. To amplify and add to these:

– Cost matters more than talent; if the decision-makers valued talent + really implementing and understanding the requirements within the culture, they would not be going to third world countries. They'd understand that productivity, quality, and time to market can only be achieved through American/Canadian (born) talent. I speak from extensive experience. (How many companies have gone third world and then found out the hard way that culture and experience are key ingredients tp productivity and life cycle cost? They have moved the development back to North America.)
– Ageism is alive and well in the IT culture. There are more than enough seasoned and pre-seasoned citizens who are experienced and bright to fill any need, but the decision-makers have a thought paradigm that does not allow consideration of older people- they automatically assume they cost too much, again, not considering quality, meeting requirements, and time to market as overriding the cost.
– There are three decisions in hiring, minimum competence, cost, and cost. That is why product deliveries today are routinely late, over budget, and of poor quality. After all, who gets rewarded on a 3-5 year plan?

Bottom line: hire older people and life cycle costs will go down! They are all in America and Canada, there are more than enough, and thus no need to go third world. And they aren't all that expensive over the life cycle.

Posted by DuaneG | June 23, 2009 2:23 PM
WolfTracks :

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer: “It's a bit goofy,” he said, “because for every person we hire to be an engineer, there's probably another four or five people who we employ at Microsoft. There's another set of people employed in the community in construction and housing and retail, a bunch of different industries.”

The only entities of benefit regarding H1B Visas are three in number – Steve Ballmer, Microsoft, and the individual with the Visa. Such hyperbole and self agrandizing is stench inducing and repulsive. It is not as if 'another set of people' get jobs for each Micrsoft sponsered Visa far from it. In addition, I'm sure U.S. citizen engineers, given the proper incentives and encouragement, could build Microsoft products which are at least as buggy and virus vulnerable as those of H1-B engineers.

Posted by WolfTracks | June 23, 2009 2:25 PM
debug :

Ballmer is ungrateful to America and it's citizens even though Microsoft got rich because of Americans.
Let's take globalist logic as far as it goes. The population of India alone is around 1.2 billion, and there are plenty of other nations whose citizens would love to come take and jobs here or else have our work shipped over to them. The US population is only around 300 million. Since they don't come burdened with our mortgages, rents, student loans, and other bills, the vast majority of foreign workers would be delighted to take a significantly lower wage than what we need to live comfortably here. Theoretically, every single American worker, present and future, could be replaced with a willing foreign worker. Think how much money that would save. Not just the tech workers. The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. The cop, the handyman, the lawn guy, the teacher, the plumber. They have blue collar workers too. What if every single one of us got our walking papers? What would America be like then? For us? Welfare benefits have a tight lifetime cap. Savings? Home equity? What would you live on if every single time you thought of a plan to earn, a foreigner was right there, johnny-on-the-spot, to take your place? In the tech field, in some areas, this is already happening. Better get active and do something about this, unless you trust the third world to show restraint and stop wanting our jobs.

Posted by debug | June 23, 2009 3:11 PM
Al :

It is very simple:

If I owned Microsoft stock, I'd want Ballmer to find the best (read: ample to the task) talent for the cheapest price and kick Google and Apple where it hurts. Whether in “cheap” Vancouver or any other third world countries (is British Columbia really that bad? – Whistler was not as cheap as it would seem from the comments last time I was there…).

I wouldn't care about anyone's elses opinions. Turkish, French or even American.

Posted by Al | June 23, 2009 3:22 PM
Bobo :

Immigration does cause recession and unemployment. Every immigration wave since 1900 has caused recession. 1906-1920 caused the Great Depression. 1965 Immigration Act caused the 1973-1982 disaster. 1990 H-1B was started, recession in 1991-1993. 1998-2000 H-1B was increased into the millions including L-1. USA was flooded with at least 4,000,000 workers from India. It's not “a few thousand” it's a few million. And yes, we got poorer and poorer during that time as foreign workers from India remit over $40 billion a year from USA to India. America gets poorer when it opens, not when it closes. Now we are seeing the real effects of that huge influx from 1998-2003. And the U.S. econ is a DISASTER. It's impossible to say immigration doesn't cause recession. And just look at the fate of all these companies that hire foreign labor for IT. MS's stock used to be $100. Now it's $23. Apple CLOSED all their R&D in India in 2006 an they employ mostly American labor. Apple's stock is now around $130. Not to mention GE, Lehman, Merrill, Sun, PeopleSoft, Quark, Bell Labs all outsourced to India, Inc. and they are now dying. Connect the dots. It's not hard to see.

Posted by Bobo | June 23, 2009 3:23 PM
Bobo :

“It will overall increase America's employment and bring in much needed young, legal workers”

You are aware that age discrimination is illegal in the USA, aren't you?

Posted by Bobo | June 23, 2009 3:27 PM
Jack :

BULLSHI$%$ what a lie, so employ me Microsoft, you wont because I have a 100K student loan and want to get paid a decent wage to pay for school, these un EDUCATED, idiots overseas are willing to work like a slave in a little core at your company for 10 bucks because THEY HAVE NO EDUCATION TO PAY FOR!! STEVE YOU ARE A MAJOR IDIOT, TYPICAL lets try and build something with no quality and do it for 10 bucks, I HATE YOU!!! GIVE ME A JOB AND MAYBE I WILL CHANGE MY MIND,,JERK!

OH by the way I will continue to not pay for your stuff, neither will my friends f'you

Posted by Jack | June 23, 2009 3:34 PM
drecula :

When I read the comments on stories like this, I realize that myth of H1-B worker = low wage worker continues. By law, companies are required to pay prevailing wages to every H1-B hire. They have to provide the proof to government for that. I started as an H1-B worker in early nineties. I was paid fairly well. Before I got my permanent residency or citizenship, I was earning in mid six figures due to my talent, skills and desire to work hard.

On point of “No shortage” of american workers, even in this economy when we have openings, none of the Americans even bother to apply for the jobs. All resumes coming across my desk are from foreigners or forign born US residents/citizens. So there is a shortage of Amercian workers necessiating immigrant workers. Ocassionally we have an AMerican apply for job and when we interview them, either their skill levels are vastly inferior to other applicants, or they want north of six figure salary for a software developer job. In which rational world a company will pay that kind of money when median salary for all jobs in US is around $55,000.

Go and ask your counterparts in auto industry in terms of what happens when you refuse to let new talent come in and infuse some fresh ideas. Eventually it leads to job losses in this country and jobs being migrated to other countries rather than people migrating to this country and boosting economy here.

Posted by drecula | June 23, 2009 3:49 PM
Must_B_Me :

Simply put, guys, it is a race to the bottom for low wages.

The countries that maintain the greatest human rights abuses will have the “hungriest” workers who will work the hardest for the least pay.

All of the lip service from people like Obama and Ballmer is just that – a weak excuse to keep status quo; talking points. They don't care that you and I know that they are lying about our “skills”, as long as the lie pacifies enough people.

Bottom line is that the America we grew up in is gone. The “deal” our parents had is gone. the multinational corporations have found greener pastures for labor with more desperate people. Whine as you might, but we now have to compete with abject poverty and the only way to equalize things is to join their ranks in poverty, then we will appreciate what crumbs of our former culture they allow us to participate in, that is if Ballmer is not to busy vacationing on his oceanliner.

Posted by Must_B_Me | June 23, 2009 3:52 PM
GoodGuy :

Good thing Ballmer isn't related to Pinnochio. How disinguous of him to make those false statements. The law allows US employers to pay H1B visa holders less than US workers. He fails t mention that tidbit. Second, the labor arbitrage with Canada makes a center there very attractive from a labor cost standpoint. Finally, the comment about needing 5 other employees to support each H1B employee is patently false, and has been proven as such in numerous studies. I also agree with another comment made above that if they are so desparate to hire people, rehire some of the thousands they laid off in the last 12 months.

Posted by GoodGuy | June 23, 2009 4:39 PM
DB :

Low balled engineering. And that's why Micro$oft is so innovativ… er… no..that would be Google, Apple, Linux, and now HP: they find and invest in 1st world talent. Like where computers actually existed for a while, and where there are paved roads with.. with… cars rather than water buffalo. You know, the country that actually invented things during the last century. Low balled engineering yields low balled innovation: best that the 16th century can devise. As the saying goes: Little invested; little interest. Watch out Canada, gardeners, plumbers, and cafe servers, house boys, maids, et al. are easy to come by. Every country has those. Creative engineers? That's a different story.

Posted by DB | June 23, 2009 4:45 PM
J :

The most interesting thing to me is that they are in fact not even offering the jobs to citizens first; They simply skip that step – The interview process, when it happens, won't even entertain the idea that MAYBE some US workers are willing to work at a competitive wage, versus y2000 wages. I was passed over on one position, where initially they were completely enamoured; No new discussions had taken place – they rang the phone as soon as they got my IQ test scores – then the job went elsewhere, without any discussion of wages or further steps of any kind, to younger non-citizens. It was implicit(?) that I would not take an offer – when I had a mortgage, a great desire to be employed with this specific company, and years more experience. Hello!?! Non-communication passes for due diligence in the hiring process? (My references and such were all solid.)

Posted by J | June 23, 2009 5:04 PM
American Observer :

I beleive the following things that Ballmer said:

“It's a bit goofy,” because you'd say that too if you were trying to sell the song and dance that they've got to hire foriegn.

And “I don't care whether they're American-born or Indian-born or Russian-born. I want to pay them to work in the U.S. ”
Just add: I don't want to pay them U.S. wages to work in the U.S.

And I don't believe the line saying;
But Microsoft will locate the job in India, or Canada or wherever it can get the best talent.

It should read;
But Microsoft will locate the job in India, or Canada or wherever it can get the best price.

Posted by American Observer | June 23, 2009 5:19 PM
Coe :

Ever try calling Microsoft tech support for I.E. 8? Straight to Indias Best and Brightest, who have to run out to the tribal witch doctor for a consult for each question asked.

How does unskilled, possibly child labor, become a countrys Best and Brightest? Cut the doublespeak please: Best and Brightest=cheap labor.

The only thing Best and Brightest about these governments is their ability to make a buckat the expense of American workers.

Face it, theres plenty o talent in the U.S. (we are the country of origin for that abomination that brought the world DOS), andthis is anathema to our own magical thinkingthe USA has LIMITED resources (i.e. a limited numbers of jobs); we cant welcome every person knocking on our door.

Forgive my seeming Marxist leanings: The bottom line is that Balmer just wants to reduce costs. It is obscene for a multi-billion dollar-a-year corporation to do this: Put Americans on unemployment (or worse, yes there is worse) so executives at Microsoft can have 400 room mansions instead of 200 room ones.

Posted by Coe | June 23, 2009 5:19 PM
Bob :

Ballmer is doing his fiduciary duty for Microsoft. Change the rules for greed and politics and Microsoft will hire more US developers and engineers.

The truth is though, most are only interested in their stock price moving up, which means since its a recession, that MS has to cut costs. Payroll is the biggest cost they have. The cost of a developer from India, even if brought to Canada or the US, is still much less than the cost of the US developer by more than 2 to 1 ratio to be exact. I know this simply because I help another high tech company outsource and I am pushed very hard to move the work offshore.

To Anonymous above, yes the reporter turned it around, but Ballmer brought hiring foreign workers up as the main reason and frankly it probably was.

And as a postscript. I work with many foreign born developers and engineers. They are every bit as good as US born developers and engineers (NOT BETTER, JUST AS GOOD). They simply have the language barrier problem. They work hard and are treated badly by these companies, eventually we'll either all equalize to a lower standard of living or the price will go up and MS and other companies like them will move their offshoring to Vietnam, Thailand and China (which is already starting)

Posted by Bob | June 23, 2009 5:34 PM
cristaldi :

It would be nice if all these companies who can not find competent workers in the US would submit to an audit process.

That will never happen because MS needs as many scape goats as it can find. This is just one of many.

Posted by cristaldi | June 23, 2009 8:02 PM
Jon Cris Miller :

I happen to oppose protectionism, support freer movement of labor internationally, and remain very impressed with most of the American public education system.

I am also one of the 1,000,000 people in IT laid off in 2001. Six years later, with 160,000 H1-B visas annually, IT employment had regained the 2001 level. Obviously, most of us who were laid off had to find work elsewhere. For me, it has been as a teacher in the US, Korea, and China, at a fraction of my old salary. It was an unexpected jolt, resulting in losing my house and retirement, but – fortunately – not my health.

Despite my multiple degrees, experience, health, integrity, and commitment, American “executives” have no use for people like me. They continue to confuse “cost effectiveness” with “cost.” “Re-Training” and employee feedback are just “dirty words” to them.

In the 1930s, Berle & Means told of the consequences of the separation of ownership and management. Basically, management could reap the benefits without suffering the consequences of their actions. “Deja vu all over again.”

The one good thing I can see is that as other countries grow, the differences between their living standards and ours diminish… and so do the “inferiority complexes” that lead to war.

I remain both frustrated and optimistic.

Jon Cris Miller

Posted by Jon Cris Miller | June 23, 2009 8:15 PM
Proamerica :

I sincerely wish the worst possible disease on Ballmer's family. I curse him and his predecesor. I expect Windows7 to be as bad as Vista when in general release; because of the Indian developers. This type of developer also wrote the 'fly-by-wire' software used on the french airliner that disintegrated in mid-air and is developing the same software for the 'dreamliner' that keeps getting delayed. Even with their 'cheap' crap attitude, their stock sucks compared to Google etc.

Posted by Proamerica | June 23, 2009 10:47 PM
Jon :

All of you anti-H1 complainers continuously miss the point; it's better to have the job in America than off-shore.

The jobs in Canada are convenient for Microsoft because they are close to Seattle and aren't hampered by the idiotic immigration issues that plague the US.

Canada has a point system for immigrants. Different jobs are more desirable at different times so the points move appropriately.

The arbitrary system in the US is frustrating for everyone — especially those who play by the rules.

Posted by Jon | June 23, 2009 11:36 PM
Sekhar :


The problem is with US Dollar's buying power. By paying 35$/hr, MS can hire the best and brightest from India. Have you guys heard about IITs? There are folks who could not get admission in ITT who got into MIT. Most of the American Engineers are of foreign origin. Please visit Computer science or electrical engineering departments of any good school. Notice who is studying MS/Phd. India has a vast pool of educated, very bright young people who are available for a song, thanks to the mighty green back. US is at a disadvantage due to high cost of health care, high tax rates and aging population.
Go and check how many American born people are working for Google/Apple/Silicon Valley cos or their off shore R&D centers.

Posted by Sekhar | June 24, 2009 12:46 AM
Narayan :

Many of you are silly to think that 6000 H1Bs brings in unemployment in US!! And we in India and the world are sipping Pepsi,driving Fords and buying Dell – as if better alternatives are not available! It is a globalized world now, whether you like it or not.

First clean up your low quality school education system( your universities are excellent), the drug lords, reduce your military industrial complex and the screwed up financial and insurance system.

And about immigration..well.. ask the Cherokees and Iroquois about that?They will give you an earful!

Posted by Narayan | June 24, 2009 1:13 AM
Slivermore :

So far as Steve Ballmar is concerned, the following Italian expression sums it up: Il pesce puzza della testa. i.e., the fish rots from the head. Microsoft is full of rot.

Posted by Slivermore | June 24, 2009 2:22 AM
The truth :

I have worked with H1B workers for years with some of the largest American and foreign companies in this country (GE, CISCO, SIEMENS, CSC ). I'm an electrical engineer, with a MS in Computer Science and 30 years experience. I'm trying to make it on my own now having been laid off by a number of these companies.

We are reaping what we sowed. The bottom line profit was always the most important. We finally are waking up to the fact that we can not just “buy” from someone else who has a lower price and get work from countries with lower wages without everntually being at that same economic level as those countries.

There is no shortage of engineering talent ….

There are good/bad H1B workers like any worker but I have witnessed politics of cost savings and these workers protected each other and their knowledge while grabbing our dollar.

We are selling out our manufacturing. We have not protected our own manufacturing companies and their interests. What is made in the USA?

Microsoft is a least an American company, but they are falling like everyone else and using illogical reasons like hiring foreign workers to create more jobs?

Our country is broke, our companies are bankrupt, I'm holding on (like many) by a thread .. wondering If I should learn Chinese.