back to article Microsoft draws fire for taxpayer handout

Microsoft is running into a buzzsaw of bad PR over $11m (£7.7m) in US economic-stimulus funds that Washington state officials have earmarked for a bridge over a highway that would connect two branches of its Redmond intergalactic nerve center. Supporters of the payout contend that the $36.5m (£25.4m) project - for which …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Peter

    why not?

    >it won't benefit the 5,000 laid-off Microsofties who won't be crossing it on their way to work.

    Why not?? Are they not able to use shovels?? was their retraining somehow deficient??

  2. Lager And Crisps

    ...and as if by magic?

    Now I know that Microsoft watches the world's tech press. I also know they pay many people to respond to articles such as this. Many of those people have responded here, and to me personally.

    So I will ask them outright "Do you think this is justified given the status of the world's economy with the recession and all, you may have noticed?"

    I can predict many of the following comments, freetard, tin-foil hat, communist, enemy of humanity (ok that last one was just made up) but I think you get my point.

    If IBM are a recipient of this handout, the Microsofties would smell blood and would want to know why (valid point, IBM and offshoring?). If Microsoft, as it seems here, are the beneficiary of a government handout (Gates probably has more money in his sock draw) then questions need to be asked, but they won't be.

    If you depend on Microsoft in any way (most of the computer and information technology business), you will disagree with everything said above. This is to be expected.

    Is that my coat?

  3. Nick

    A Bridge to Microsoft... a bridge to IT frustration.

  4. Pierre

    0.0014-per-cent spud

    "the grant is small potatoes when compared to the $787bn (£548.7bn) allocated to US projects by the Obama administration's stimulus package"

    Yep. Now express that in mortgage months for the real victims of the crunch (hint: NOT MS or the banks). It might seem more significant. Or are common citizens "too little to let live"?

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Bridge? As in interoperability?

    I think you are all missing something.

    Has anyone seen a full copy of the rules that define how you get to the Microsoft side of the bridge?

    Will they allow Richard Stallman to cross it without them insisting on a RAND toll?

    If you pass in both directions will you need a different car for each way?

    Has the ISO been told to make this bridge a standard?

  6. Jason Harvey


    planting trees on a bridge? WTF? they're going to plant trees that grow on a bridge that has limited depth which will eventually mean that the trees roots will destroy the bridge. I think the design needs a rethink (if the picture provided is anything to go on).

  7. Adam Foxton
    Thumb Up

    If they financed it out of their own purse

    They'd be well within their rights to deny access to other users; at least this way the public gets some benefit from it- for a relatively small investment. Plus it'll (briefly) help stimulate parts of the construction industry and its suppliers- saving jobs and bringing in taxes- and make Microsoft's workflow that little bit more efficient (and God knows they need it!), meaning a slightly lower chance of layoffs and so more taxes paid.

    Even better, with the recession the various construction firms won't be price-gouging as badly as they could so that they can stay competitive. So the $11M will go further than it would have a year ago.

    To put it in perspective, $11M is about 4 or 5 hours worth of the funding the UK gov't gives annually to databases that generally don't work and that no-one wants.

  8. Tom

    If the driver is not HDMI complient...

    Will the car get ejected over the side?

    It's always bad drivers that cause most of the problems...

  9. Christopher Martin

    @Jason Harvey : trees on a bridge

    It's true, I've seen them do it.

    I'm not sure if they can be quite as large as the artist's imagining (I might describe those in the photo I linked as more like shrubbery), but it's apparently a reasonable notion.

  10. Tam Lin

    Take the just under 400 construction workers

    and trade them with Microsoft programmers (lead and up, the entry point of incompetent friends). Not only would that improve the software, it would also lead to more mortuary jobs when the bridge collapses on road below. Repeatedly.

  11. TJ

    Big picture stimulus meets small minds

    Yes, Microsoft gets a Bridge from our tax dollars. and yes, it sucks. But not as much as letting the country go tits-up. Municipalities were given guidelines to SPEND this money put forth. And they were asked to spend it post haste to counter-act the rash of recent layoffs.

    Yes, MS gets a bridge, but 400 people get food on there table, mortgage payments, and little jimmy gets new sneakers. Its NOT a permanent solution. Its is a short term band aid to create a bridge (no pun intended) to cross the economic downturn.

    Everybody will get a little piece of this pie. And the "Bridge to nowhere" was a project receiving exponential funds during an economic UP turn. (Slightly different situation) So people really need to step back and put everything in play before getting all crazy. This project is actually perfect. It can start tomorrow if they wanted to, its benefits the general public and a long standing employer, improves traffic flow (also commerce related).

    Just watch out for in two years when they need to upgrade the bridge to a prettier less functional version, thats all.

  12. E_Nigma

    Sorry, but

    This bridge is going to be a part of the public infrastructure. Is Microsoft going to be using it a lot? Yes. Do you, Mr Ellis who isn't reading this, know why? It's because Redmond isn't such a big place, but MS is a huge company, so I'm guessing that they account for most of the business that goes on there. Yet it's still going to be a public bridge and if MS is to be in charge of providing Redmond's public infrastructure, it's only fair that they are declared owners of the town first. As it is, the fact that the company which is probably the biggest employer in town as well as, I assume, a significant generator of income is paying for half of a public bridge is actually nice.

    If it weren't MS but some local industry, then this would be trumpeted as money well spent (reducing congestion on the freeway, enabling more efficient functioning of the town's industry, so many people will be crossing the new bridge every day doing their jobs, yadda, yadda, yadda...) even if all of it were state money.

  13. Frank

    Trees are not too bad

    The trees on the bridge would not be too much of a problem compared to the drivers. Trees move very slowly and are not stupid, nor do they get drunk or suicidal. How many car drivers will pull in for a rest stop or a picnic or drift onto the 'dirt track' section and get it horribly wrong before crashing through the wall and tumbling onto the freeway below. A bridge should be a simple mechanism that you don't hang around on, that doesn't distract or confuse you and that is easy to clean, maintain and repair.

  14. Bronek Kozicki

    can someone pls explain?

    OK, so a number of construction companies will earn around $36mln, of which half will come out of taxpayer pocket and the other half from Microsoft shareholders. I am probably wrong on this, but I thought the "financial stimulus" is, among others, designed to keep struggling construction industry afloat using taxpayers money, and this seems to be exactly this.

    The new bridge will be publicly accessible and "in 52% useful" to general population, so where is the controversy?

  15. rhydian

    Public vs. Private

    If the road that's going over the bridge a public road then use public money to help build it. Otherwise get MS to pay and treat it as a private road i.e. no public utilities to use the brige (water/electricity grid/gas) and MS can whack whatever private services they want over it (fibre etc.). If other people want to use the bridge then toll it.

  16. Dave


    Good job it's Microsoft at both ends of the bridge, otherwise it probably suffer occasional disconnections with cars dropping through the gaps. It'll probably be accident-prone anyway, lots of crashes.

    What about a bit of innovation? A catapult and a net on each side, probably cheaper than a bridge.

  17. Ray

    I can't believe nobody has said this

    Why did the Microsoft chief exec cross the road?

    Oh, God. Sorry. I'm going.

  18. Paul Kerton
    Gates Horns


    This is an April Fools joke?

  19. Daniel

    If Microsoft were left to desgin it, themselves, there'd be a roundabout halfway across.

    Yes, you can point to 5000 workers made redundant, in the recent layoffs, but you can bet your bottom dollar that Balmer and co will continue to allow the headcount at Redmond to bloat and bloat, in years to come - simply because that's the only way they know, how to run their business. Microsoft employees already spend much of their lives looking at the backend of a babyshit brown Chevy, while waiting to get into cramped, shared offices, to look at circular dependancies, all day. The problem, for Redmond as a town, is that they don't simply hold each other up, with their numbers, while they do this. The whole of that dreary, rainy settlement grinds to a halt, while Microsoft heads to work. Freeing up at least some of the excess traffic that this employee bloat has caused would benefit the wider community.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Is the bridge open source ?

    Or is it proprietary and you have to pay the MS TAX to cross it ?

    If FAT-OFF Ballmer needs to cross it better be sturdy.

  21. TeeCee Gold badge

    The cash required.

    "Whether Microsoft's bigwigs carry $11m in their pockets is unlikely...."

    Possibly true, it'd be a bit bulky. They need to get 'em to nip home and grab it out of the sock drawer.

  22. Tom

    I think you missed a key part of the story here.

    According to CNN:

    "Marchione applied for federal stimulus money after costs jumped on the project from $25 million to $36 million. Marchione says the increase in costs were due to a rise in construction prices and because the bridge will be built on a diagonal in order to connect Microsoft’s original East campus with a newer West campus that are split by a public highway."

    So the federal bailout money exactly equals the price increase for rerouting the bridge for MS needs. Yes, The Big 0 is buying MS a bridge with my tax dollars, and no, I'm not the least bit happy about it.

  23. E_Nigma


    So the bridge was planned anyway and the "rerouting" accounts only for a part of the $11 million rise, yet MS is supplying $17,5 million? That still seems fair from Microsoft.

  24. IR


    The non-Microsoft people using it are very likely to be working with Microsoft. Nearly all the other companies there are only there to be in walking distance of MS while they work on collaborations.

  25. Wolf
    Paris Hilton

    Come *on* folks

    Let's see. MS is suppling 17.5 million and the city (thru the stimulus package) is supplying 11 million? Yet MS employee traffic is less than half the total? Yet it will be a public road?

    Um, sounds fair to me. Where's the problem?

    Paris, because even she can tell when fair's fair...

  26. Eduard Coli
    Gates Horns


    How much stimulus will it take to fix Vista?

  27. Gis Bun
    IT Angle

    Bridge to somewhere

    At least Microsoft is paying for a large chunk of the bridge. Let alone it wouldn't cost as much if there wasn't train tracks as well. B'sides it is going over a highway.

    In Toronto, IBM has a bridge to go to one of their campuses. Interesting thing is that it's like a typical exit off a highways except it's a street that's not even divided. They couldn't put up a light instead? In another IBM location, they have their own exit and entrance off a secondary road.

  28. elderlybloke
    Paris Hilton

    Jason Harvey's post was well put

    Trees on a bridge is the height of stupidity.

    The soil will be to thin to provide water in summer, and it will be waterlogged in winter , unless some fancy drainage system is put in.Extra load on structure will need to be extra strong .

    The roots will have insufficient anchorage and is the trees do survive , they will fall over when it gets windy.

    However , it is highly likely that the architect(or draughtsman) who drew this pretty picture did what he/she does on the picture of any proposed structure. Show trees,

    Regardless of whether it makes any sense.

    My own pretty picture is provided.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like