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Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer saw their salaries go up slightly, but watched their bonuses shrink by $50,000 in 2006.

The top two at Microsoft got paid $616,667 in salary and received a $350,000 bonus - down from $400,000 in 2005.

Ballmer also got some $9,482 for "all other compensation" - while Bill Gates got $2,112.

A proxy statement, given to the Securities and Exchange Commission, says: "The compensation of Messrs Ballmer and Gates reflects their status as significant shareholders of the company. Their salaries and total compensation are significantly below competitive levels for the information technology industry and large market capitalisation US companies. The average CEO salary and bonus for the comparison group the company uses were $1.329m in base salary and $3.216m in bonus."

The two should be able to survive on their below par salaries though - the Forbes Rich list estimates William Gates III is worth $50bn and Steve Ballmer's net worth is $13.6bn.

The statement also said the board will consider several shareholder proposals. The first of these summarises Microsoft's actions in China, including shutting down dissident blogs. The proposal calls on Microsoft to stop doing business with any "foreign" government or agency that denies human or labour rights. The board recomends voting against this proposal.

The second proposal is: "The shareholders request that Microsoft form a committee to explore ways to formulate an equal employment opportunity policy which complies with all federal, state and local regulations but does not make reference to any matters related to sexual interests, activities or orientation." The board again calls for a vote against this proposal.

Microsoft is also reducing its board of directors to just nine people after the retirement of Ann McLaughlin Korologos on 14 November 2006.

The statement is here. ®

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