Even as staffers and stringers alike are being laid off from its sister Web site Cinemania — which will be operational through March ’98 but will rarely be “refreshed” with new content — Microsoft sources aver that Music Central, the Redmond, Wash.-based giant’s guide to all things pop, will be similarly denuded.

Both sites are being destaffed and deactivated so as to pool resources for Microsoft’s mammoth Sidewalk project: a major shopping/entertainment/dining guide for every major city in the world. (They’re starting with the U.S.)

Microsoft couldn’t confirm the Music Central turndown, but did acknowledge, as it did previously (Daily Variety, Aug. 15), that some Interactive Media Division employees were being let go and others were being shifted in their duties. Neither of the company’s full-time praiseries knew anything about the moves.

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