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Microsoft To End Practice Of Paying Employees Stock Options


Moving away from a pay system that showered riches on a generation of entrepreneurs and engineers in hundreds of technology companies, Microsoft said on Tuesday that it would no longer grant stock options, relying instead on actual awards of stock to help pay its 50,000 employees.

The announcement is the clearest sign yet that stock options have lost some of the cachet they held just a few years ago. Microsoft’s move also comes as some big investors are putting pressure on companies to award fewer options, calling them a prime example of corporate excess during the 1990s.

“People have been less happy about the equity compensation side of the equation than almost anything else in their employment here,” said Steven Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive officer.

But with accounting regulators moving to require companies to record stock options as an ordinary business expense, Microsoft may also have seen this move as a way to stay a step ahead of outside pressure to alter its compensation methods.

The shift highlights Microsoft’s effort to make the transition from a growth-oriented technology company widely considered one of the most attractive places to work, to a more mature company that must fight to keep talented employees tempted by the riches that they can find at a start-up venture.

Since it was founded in 1975, Microsoft has created more than 1,000 millionaires, according to outside analysts who follow the company. The company currently has about 1.5 billion options outstanding, shared unevenly among its employees. Ballmer and William H. Gates, the company’s co-founder and chairman, both own huge quantities of Microsoft shares but they have never received stock options.

Harvard Contestants Give Pageant An Image Makeover


Nancy Redd graduated from Harvard in June with honors in women’s studies and a resume that includes contributing to a new SAT guidebook. A classmate, Laurie Gray, is a violinist who graduated summa cum laude and is applying to medical school.

The two have never met, but they will be on the same stage in Atlantic City in September, competing to be the next Miss America.

Redd is the reigning Miss Virginia, and Gray is Miss Rhode Island. Both members of the Harvard Class of 2003 are vying to follow in the footsteps of this year’s Miss America, Erika Harold, who starts Harvard Law School next year.

Elite universities have been represented in the Miss America pageant in previous years, but two Harvard graduates vying for the crown of an incoming Harvard student is almost certainly a first.

“Harvard students just set ridiculous goals for themselves,” said Redd, who, in addition to her pageant victory, won a quarter-million dollars on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” and was one of Glamour Magazine’s “Top Ten College Women” in 2002 “That’s why they do amazing things.”

Six Dead In Shooting At Lockheed Martin Plant In Mississippi


An employee of the military contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. opened fire Tuesday at a company plant near Meridian, Miss., killing five people and wounding eight others before killing himself, the authorities said.

Investigators did not immediately release the names of the shooter or his victims and have not said anything about a possible motive for the shooting.

“He was heavily armed,” said an official at the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Department, quoting the sheriff, Billy Sollie.

A spokeswoman for Lockheed Martin Corp. confirmed the shooting and the deaths, and said the assailant was an employee of the company, but she did not release any further details about the incident.