Updated from 12:47 a.m. EST
is seriously exploring significant job cuts that could be announced as early as next week,
The Wall Street Journal
The software giant is considering layoffs across its various divisions, says people familiar with the company's plans, the
reports. However, plans for the cutbacks are still in flux and Microsoft could end up finding alternative methods to reduce costs.
reports the number of potential job cuts is likely to be far less than the 15,000 positions that have been rumored in recent weeks, a figure that would amount to more than 16% of Microsoft's global work force.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer declined to say last week whether the company was planning layoffs, though he said the economy is forcing Microsoft to think seriously about cost cutting measures, according to the newspaper.
The company might announce the job cuts when it reports its financial results for the holiday quarter, planned for next Thursday, the
reports. When it reported its quarterly results in October, Microsoft said the weakening economy was prompting it to slow its hiring and cut other costs, such as travel expenses, the report says.
Large workforce reductions have been nearly unheard of throughout Microsoft's more than three decades in business, according to the newspaper.
If Microsoft does cut its workforce, it would join other technology companies, such as
, that have recently announced layoffs.
Microsoft shares were inching up 0.6% to $19.20 at the start of the trading session Thursday.
This article was written by a staff member of TheStreet.com.