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Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer have finally joined their high-tech peers by scoring annual salaries in the one million dollar range.

Microsoft's chief software architect and chief executive officer were paid $1m during the last fiscal year after each receiving a $400,000 bonus on their $600,000 salaries. Both men were previously just shy of $1m, being paid $901,000 each.

In its latest Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing Microsoft said the compensation reflected their status as significant shareholders of the company. Both men are eligible for bonus of up to 120 per cent based on a review.

The reward came as Microsoft announced a record year, reporting $39.79bn revenue for fiscal 2005 that ended on June 30, 2005. Revenue for the year increased eight per cent.

The award finally puts Gates in the same league as their peers at at lest two rivals - Oracle and SAP. But only just. Henning Kagermann, chief executive for SAP, draws a $4.16m salary from the ERP Goliath while Oracle's Larry Ellison keeps a lavish lifestyle of boating and designer homes afloat with a $7.48m pay check.

The blip is not enough to beat two of Microsoft's other top performers, though. Kevin Johnson, recently appointed co-president of platform products and services, pulled in $1.05m in salary and bonuses while Jeff Raikes, head of business solutions, scored $1.04m. Out-bound co-president of platform products and services, Jim Allchin, drew level with Gates and Ballmer.

Microsoft noted in its SEC filing that the salaries of Gates and Ballmer are "significantly below competitive levels elsewhere in the information technology industry and large market capitalization US companies, and they do not participate in the company's equity compensation program". ®

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