Questions on Stock options as compensation

Note from the author: I'm not a student, so please feel guilt-free when providing me with guidance!
I read a passage in my readings of financial and accounting topics.
Here's the passage about MSFT and their use of stock options as compensation:
"There is also the issue of tax benefits from stock options. For MSFT, such tax benefits derived from option-related tax deductions and received in the form of reductions in tax payments totaled billions in 2003."
Aren't *ALL* forms of compensation - from defined benefits plan to salaries, etc. - paid as pre-tax expense (i.e. it's tax-deductible)? If so, then why single out stock options as being tax favorable?
Also, why don't publicly traded companies pay much more of its employees' salaries in the form of stock options - since this would do more to maximize the Cash Flow from Operations and minimize cash flow from financing (which is less correllated with the stock price)?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
Add image file
Upload is a site by and for consumers of financial services and advice. We are not affiliated with any of the banks, financial services or software manufacturers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.

Tax and financial advice you come across on this site is freely given by your peers and professionals on their own time and out of the kindness of their hearts. We can guarantee neither accuracy of such advice nor its applicability for your situation. Simply put, you are fully responsible for the results of using information from this site in real life situations.