Gates is handing the stick to Craig Mundie, Microsoft's chief research and strategy officer, who will take overall responsibility for security at the software maker.
"I want to thank Bill for his leadership in this as he goes off next year for full time with the foundation," Mundie said at the end of a joint keynote speech with Gates here on Tuesday. "I will be back for sure next year at this conference because I intend to continue to be the patron of security and trustworthy computing at Microsoft."
Gates first delivered the opening keynote speech at the RSA Conference in 2004, and his appearance has become an annual affair. The speeches became a public display of Microsoft's focus on security since Gates' "Trustworthy Computing" memo in 2002.