A new study, conducted for Microsoft by IDC, claims to put a dollar value on how much Microsoft's network of partners and international governments benefit from the software vendor.

According to IDC, the so-called Microsoft ecosystem, including about more than 640,000 hardware, software, services and distribution firms, employs 42 percent of all IT industry workers worldwide.

Those employees will pay a total of more than $500 billion in taxes this year, according to the study, which was released yesterday in Budapest as Microsoft announced several rounds of planned investments in Hungary and Romania.

Moreover, Microsoft's partners will make about $425 billion in revenue this year, while investing $100 billion in local economies via spending on research, development, marketing, sales and support, IDC said. The study also found that for every dollar Microsoft makes this year, its partners will earn $7.79.

Although the research was sponsored by Microsoft, the figures may provide more ammunition for the company as it seeks to expand its business in developing economies where its software is often pirated.

As Microsoft pressures the governments in those countries to crack down on piracy, some are starting to consider the alternative: adopting or encouraging the use of open-source software.

IDC's findings were based on a study of 82 countries and regions. The research firm said the study shows that overall IT spending will total $1.24 trillion worldwide this year and will grow at an annual rate of 6.1 percent through 2011 - doubling the expected global growth in gross domestic products.

To calculate the amount of spending within the Microsoft ecosystem, IDC said that it "started with IT spending by category in each country and region, and assigned a percent of the category that either ran on a Microsoft operating system or that was involved in servicing Microsoft software." Those percentages were taken from previous research done by the firm, it added.

The research firm said it then estimated Microsoft's revenues for each country or region and "deducted that from the total Microsoft-enabled revenue. What was left is the Microsoft-enabled revenue from companies other than Microsoft.”