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Microsoft told its US staff on Friday that from 2013 they would have to pay contributions toward their healthcare costs.

The company’s compensations and benefits veep J. Ritchie told MS employees at a 'Town Hall' meeting in Redmond that Microsoft was “not immune” to the “rising costs” of US healthcare.

"We needed to evolve our US-based healthcare programs. We want to be able to over the long term reduce the rate of increase we’re experiencing in our health plans," he said, according to The Seattle Times.

Ritchie claimed reaction from Microsoft employees to the news that they would have to dish up cash toward their healthcare plans was “pretty positive”.

He did not say how much money MS workers would be required to contribute when the health savings plan changes are implemented in 2013.

The Mini-Microsoft blog, where many current employees of the software giant go to gripe about the firm, had one commentator saying in response to the healthcare move that “Microsoft now looks ordinary to me”.

The blog’s author added: “Do I think the health changes will affect recruiting? Probably not. Do I think it will affect retention? Yes.

“If other tech companies hold steady on their coverage then they close a big gap to hiring experienced people at Microsoft. Look, once you have a family and one or two big boo-boos (medical term) you realise: ‘holy crap, we are so fortunate... I love this company for caring for me and my family so well!’ It's no golden handcuff, but it still anchors you.

“Anchors away.”

All of which topped off a pretty brutal week for Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer, who had his bonus pay capped and saw the company humiliatingly downgraded from 'buy' to 'neutral' by brokerage Goldman Sachs. ®

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