I'm trying to do a little math about Microsoft employees and their philanthropy, but I'm missing a key figure—how much Microsoft spends on its payroll each year (or quarter).

One source, doing some back-of-the-envelope work, estimates the gross payroll around $35 billion. But it's a shaky calculation inferred from other expenses.

Microsoft, of course, won't say. As one of MS's public information officers put it, in the dulcet tones of someone who is paid handsomely to tell people that basic questions about the financial leviathan living in their collective backyard will go unanswered: "I have connected with my most appropriate colleagues, and unfortunately we are unable to accommodate your request at this time. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause."

Goldy suggests looking for employee-discrimination lawsuits and pawing through their mountains of paperwork to find some numbers, but I think he's trying to see how much time he can get me to waste on this for his own amusement.

Any of you clever, well-informed people out in Slogland have any ideas?