Last week, Microsoft laid off its entire Editorial Staff, presumably for using outsourced material from Pearson, who already maintains the distribution of Microsoft Press titles. The news about the layoffs hasn’t been widely reported but may soon be felt as the company marches towards an updated version of its Windows 10 operating system that will undoubtedly have users wondering how and where to find old mainstay features.
The Microsoft Press editorial staff was a group of individuals tasked with creating Microsoft-related book projects for publication. Editorial staffers were responsible for each book project from conception to the eventual release of material. Most of the books published from 1984 until recently have been of educative and informative nature towards Microsoft technologies.
While it is always unfortunate to see people lose employment, Microsoft’s shift to software as a service-style release of its products coupled with blog and YouTube postings on newly released features and updates has been quickly eroding at the more traditional publications of the Editorial Staff.
According to Tony Redmond of itunity.com and friend to many of the Microsoft Editorial Staff:
The rapid pace of change in the software industry has created huge problems for book publishers. The traditional approach where an author would take six to nine months to create a draft of a book followed by some months of work to do technical and copy editing, indexing, and formatting, is simply unsustainable today. Where on-premises software products might have had one major release every three years with service packs issued annually, cloud software like Azure or Office 365 changes on a weekly or sometimes daily basis. Although many of the changes are small, enough of them occur to make it terrifically difficult for publishing houses to keep pace.”
Redmond also sees the surging transition of businesses using the cloud as another nail in an otherwise closing casket for publishers of technology, especially those who used to make a living publishing books for client and administrative purposes.
The cloud also affects the market for books covering the administration of on-premises servers because the transfer of workload from on-premises to cloud systems reduces the number of people who might potentially buy these books.”
Redmond finally concludes, as will many, Microsoft’s decision to end its Editorial Publishing team was not an arbitrary one but one of a company perhaps putting a dollar amount to the education and training results of its publication arm. Microsoft Learning, which used to house Microsoft Press, has also discontinued the Microsoft Certified Master’s program in 2013 for presumably similar reasons.
However, Microsoft appears to have shuttered its Certified Master program to only resurrect it in a presumably more cost effective body with the newly announced online Microsoft Professional Degree program.
It seems since freshly appointed CEO Satya Nadella has taken the reigns, Microsoft has been more scrutinizing of its resources and projects. Hopefully, its moves to batten the hatches proves a successful choice.