Valleywag reports from a tipster that Microsoft used read-only e-mail to serve as a virtual pink slip for some of the 1,400 employees they laid off last week.

According to Valleywag, "A tipster who saw one of the notices says the email had DRM restrictions--similar to the ones that prevent the copying of music files--that prevented it from being forwarded or printed, and instructed the fired employees to pack up their things and go home, where their severance package would be mailed. As the tipster put it: 'No meeting with their boss. No meeting with HR. Nada.'"

The credit crunch is affecting businesses in some pretty unforeseen ways. Workforce cutbacks have apparently also led to some leniency in HR policies.

Savvy readers will notice that the image paired with this article is composed on a Mac; it's not a screenshot of the actual e-mail, but a digital Microsoft Entourage rendering by Owen Thomas.