June 15, 2006 1:35 PM PDT

Gates stepping down from full-time Microsoft role

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Gates shocked the technology world in 2000 with a surprise announcement that he would hand over the CEO role to Ballmer but remain as chairman. At the time, Gates also took on a new role as chief software architect.

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The reaction in Redmond What happens to Microsoft post-Gates? CNET News.com's Charlie Cooper speaks with reporter Ina Fried, who was on the ground at Microsoft's headquarters to speak with Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer.

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In recent months, Gates and Ballmer have been planning for the company's founder to step back further. The company began making plans in earnest at a board retreat in March. At that time, the directors made plans to discuss the subject on a mid-June conference call.

Gates, Ballmer and the rest of Microsoft's directors finalized plans on a conference call Tuesday. However, the topic had been on both leaders' minds for some time, including when Microsoft made the decision to acquire Ozzie's Groove Networks back in 2005.

"Certainly Bill and I had begun that discussion," Ballmer said at the press conference.

While Microsoft continues to perform well financially--it pockets nearly $1 billion per month on quarterly sales of about $11 billion--the company's growth prospects and ability to compete with a new breed of competitors has caused its stock price to stagnate. Shares closed at $22.07 Thursday in regular trading, down from a 52-week high of $28.38. Shares have slipped steadily since trading at about $35 in 2001. (Following the announcement on Gates' plans, shares slipped about 8 cents Thursday.)

News.com Poll

Bill Gates has set a timetable to end his day-to-day work at Microsoft. Do you agree with his plans?

Too soon. There's no one else who can fill his shoes.
Not soon enough. He should have left years ago.
Just about right. The company's in capable hands with Ballmer, Ozzie and crew.



View results

Gates, 50, founded Microsoft in 1975 with high-school buddy Paul Allen to sell a version of the Basic programming language for the Altair computer. The company had considerable success in the 1980s, partly as a creator of software applications for Apple Computer's Macintosh computer.

But it was the company's decision to enter the operating system business that would propel it to the top of the technology world. The company's Windows OS runs on more than 90 percent of the world's PCs. The success briefly pushed Gates' net worth, largely through his Microsoft holdings, past $100 billion in 1999. Gates currently holds about 977 million shares.

According to Forbes magazine, he is the richest person in the world with a net worth of $50 billion in 2005.

"Gates certainly has been a driving force in the industry, for better and for worse. I think if you go back to 1981, few would have predicted the degree to which one OS would unite 95 percent of the PCs around the world," said Nathan Brookwood, an analyst with Insight 64.

"As Microsoft has grown, (Gates') ability to contribute at a technical level has become ever less critical to the company's success. I would suspect it won't be very different from a technical standpoint with him not involved on a full-time basis," Brookwood said.

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"He was really the first technology-oriented entrepreneur who was also a great businessman," wrote Stephen Baker, an analyst with NPD Techworld, in an e-mail interview. "(He) kind of legitimized the idea that techies could make money and it was OK."

Gates put business success ahead of pure technology concerns when it came to his company, which probably accounts for some of the backlash against him and Microsoft from the technology community over the years, Baker wrote. "I think if you look at Google today, they are running into the same headwind, admired entrepreneurs doing good things technologically but now being challenged by needing to balance making money and building products."

And former Microsoft chief scientist Myhvold said that even after Gates is no longer roaming the halls daily, the company "has got tremendous opportunities ahead of it. Look at how dynamic IBM has remained."

CNET News.com's Scott Ard reported from San Francisco, and Ina Fried reported from Redmond, Wash.

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108 comments

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Should be interesting
I'll be very interested to see how this changes the trajectory of Bill Gates' philanthropic ventures.
Posted by mikezillion (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Well done.
I guess there's not much else for him to accomplish there, after building one of the most successful businesses in the world and maintaining that leadership position for decades. This leaves him more time to focus on his work with charities.

Well done.
Posted by just_some_guy (231 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ding Dong...
"Ding Dong, the witch is dead" seems strangely appropriate here.
Posted by thenet411 (415 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Well, It's About Time, but, It's Ballmer Who Really Needs to Go ...
since I'm convinced he's always been the one at the root of all of Microsloth's bad behavior, given his atrocious treatment of customers, employees, and competitors alike. If you've ever seen this raving lunatic at a Microsloth employees meeting, you'll completely understand where I'm coming from. Gates pleaded with him to also leave Harvard to come work at Microsloth because he desperately needed a bad cop marketing guy to deal with the partner and competitor counterparts in the rest of the industry, from IBM, to Lotus, Apple, Dell, Compaq, Digital Research, Borland, Sun, Oracle, and you-name-them.

Gates stepping down will have absolutely no effect on the company, though, as Vista is still moribund after seven years of development, they still have no strategy for dealing with the threat from the likes of Google, open-source software, the EU, China, India, and, if it ever wakes up again, the Justice Department, not to mention its own customers, who get screwed on a daily basis because of Microsloth's complete inability to deal with security threats in a timely and responsive way. The undisclosed Windows Guaranteed Authenticity phone-home-to-the-mother-ship debacle is yet-another vivid example of how little they really care about their customers.

Well, maybe he'll do better against biological viruses through his charitable efforts, than his company's failures against virtual viruses. I'm just glad my health doesn't depend on it.

All the Best,
Joe Blow
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Can I take you seriously?
Joe Blow???
Microsloth????

Seems like a good article...but then again...
Posted by Ted Miller (305 comments )
Link Flag
Greedy Apple
you're an idiot,what has that greedy bastard over at apple done lately for for people, he takes but gives nothing back to society
Posted by Ldanny (4 comments )
Link Flag
That's one down...
...??? to go.

From things I've read recently about the Vista development process/atmosphere, it's high time for some management shakeup at Microsoft.
Posted by Norseman (1319 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Should be good.
I think this is a good move for Microsoft. A change in direction is just what they need.

--
Steve - <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://tail-f.net/" target="_newWindow">http://tail-f.net/</a>
Posted by YourM0m (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Another delay in Vista. I suspect.
Message to Bill - Take Steve Ballmer with you too!
Posted by ServedUp (413 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hold the Champagne, He's Going to Be Around for at Least Two More Years ...
as full-time chairman. Even after that, he'll be around part-time as a technical advisor. Ray Ozzie, will immediately assume the title of chief software architect and will begin working side by side wth Gates on all technical architecture and product oversite responsibilities. Craig Mundie, the current chief technical officer, will take the new role of chief research and strategy officer, also effective immediately. So, no real changes beyond the foreseeable future.

Well, I guess that's good news for their competitors, but not their customers. I don't know what it will mean for the recipients of the charity, but we can only hope that the laws of random distribution will get the most good to the largest number of people possible. Just saving lives isn't enough, though, and even the $29.1 billion in the fund today can't do much to reverse decades of corrupt government and corporate actions, which is how most of the affected people wound up in such horrid conditions in the first place. It might be more cost-effective to just buy off the corrupt and get them out of the way so that some real benefit can accrue to the afflicted and end the cycle of poverty they're locked in, no matter how much health care they receive.

All the Best,
Joe Blow
Posted by Joe Blow (175 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Message has been deleted.
Posted by pdude (65 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Well taken but..
...its odd to compare a loosing company like Sun to a company that makes a billion dollars a month.
Posted by FutureGuy (742 comments )
Link Flag
Jobs to go?
Common man? Gates never did something important in his live.
Okay he inventended computerproblems, but common. The world
is better of without Gates
Posted by barrack (10 comments )
Link Flag
interesting
the comments here ranging from praise to hate... the guy worked, made money and is retiring... i dont get why people take things personally... its not like he did anything directly to anyone here... he was a business man not a murderer...
Posted by larahs (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
ease up
the comments here ranging from praise to hate... the guy worked, made money and is retiring... i dont get why people take things personally... its not like he did anything directly to anyone here... he was a businessman and a philanthropist, not a murderer...
Posted by larahs (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
agree
The guy might have done some bad things in the business world but cut him some slack. He is not pocketing all this money a majority of his net worth will be given to charities, more so than his children. Now how many people do that, honestly?
Posted by bobj123 (94 comments )
Link Flag
Wow, no love for Bill huh?
All the Gates bashers on here...wow. Pretty harsh for a guy who's leaving the multi billion dollar company he started so that he can spend more time working on the multi billion dollar charity that he and his wife started. You can hate the man for his company's business practices, but he gives back big-time. Keep that in mind when villifying him.
Posted by PhillyBoy919 (126 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yeah
Agreed.
Posted by advs89 (68 comments )
Link Flag
Will miss good old Bill!
Bill and company gave us a great product and got a little carry away by trying to give us more and more... while others gives us a lot less.
Have you guys check your shopping cart lately?
Corporate America keeps repacking the same thing but putting less and less and charging you more money in the process...you complainers do some checking..
Posted by tango2x4 (1 comment )
Link Flag
We (and Everyone Else Who Uses a Computer) Don't Admire ...
having out pockets emptied by a corporate robber baron, while being held down by his accomplice thugs. The fact that he's siphoning off a relatively small amount of the filched money (somewhere in the neighborhood of half a trillion, yes, with a "t", dollars in revenue over the past 30 years) for _tax_deductible_ charity is no excuse for stealing in the first place. He's no different from the robber barons in the railroad, steel, and oil monopolies of a century and more ago. His company used unethical (bad enough for a "philanthropist"), not to mention illegal (where's the love in the "philanthropy" now?) activities for decades, and they're still pushing the legal envelope on a daily basis in their attempts to use their ill-gotten gains to spread into other markets (but, thankfully, they've been even more incompetent at that than they have been in developing robust, secure, high-performance operating system and office applications software).

Go and ask the folks who worked for Digital Research and any other company "competing" with Microsloth in the 1980s how Bill and his cohorts intentionally coded Windoze 3.x so that their software would cripple their competitors' software products. Ask any of the PC manufacturers how Gates and Co. systematically forced them to pay Microsloth a Windows license fee on every computer they sold, whether or not it actually had Windows installed, or they found that they could no longer sell anything from Microsloth. Ask the judge that presided over the anti-trust case how Bill and his buddies swore up and down that Internet Exploiter was an integral part of the Windoze operating system, and the judge then proceded to remove IE from a computer right there in the courtroom, and Windoze continued to run (well, at least as badly as it normally would - I'm sure that if they waited for a few hours, it would croak anyway, but not because IE had been removed). If you'd like more examples of Bill Gates' immoral and illegal behavior, I'll merely direct you to the warehouses full of complaints, testimony and evidence that the Justice Department and about half of the state attorney generals in the U.S. amassed over the past 30 years.

For those who eat up the revisionist history that passes for PR from Microsloth, Bill wasn't some wunderkind who was merrily tossing PC appleseeds across the landscape in the hope that everyone would benefit from his efforts by having a computer on their desk. He was a born-with-a-silver-spoon-in-his-mouth kid of one of the most successful corporate attorneys in Seattle, and could pick where he went to college. Apparently, no one at Harvard knew enough to teach him anything (his words), whereupon he spent his nights playing cards with Steve Ballmer and others who wound up at Microsloth. So, it was no skin off of his nose for him to leave and go to work for Ed Roberts at MITS in Albuquerque, NM. The only technical achievement he has ever claimed was porting BASIC to 8080 assembly language for the S-100 home-built/kit computers, and then he complained when people freely copied it when he brought it to show off at the Homebrew Computer Club in Silicon Valley - an "organization" whose sole stated purpose was to _share_information_ in order to expand the then-tiny personal computer _hobby_.

Then there's the mystery about why, when he had the chance, Bill Gates didn't allow Apple to die, or even kill it off, when he invested $150 million after Steve Jobs returned in the early 1990s. I suspect that it had something to do with the fact that Bill and Microsloth made its first $100 million from a now-forgotten little product called the Microsoft C/PM SoftCard for the Apple II, an 8080-based microcomputer-on-a-card that fit into a slot in the original Apple II computers. C/PM was the de facto OS for the first quarter of a million S-100 microcomputers in existence up until then, especially for business use (there are still banks in Germany and other businesses that rely on C/PM today - it was that reliable a product, unlike anything Microsloth has ever produced). Bill licensed C/PM to use on the SoftCard, and millions of them were eventually sold to go into many of the millions of Apple II systems that were the most popular computer on the planet for years (one is still running a telescope aiming system at an observatory on Mt. Haleakala in Hawaii - the operator's comment: "It it ain't broke, don't fix it."). So, Bill owed a lot of his early money to Apple, and Microsloth earns billions of dollars a year alone from sales of Office for the Mac to this very day.

I'd rather direct charitable contributions to where I think they will do the most good - history has repeatedly shown that too much money in a few peoples' hands inevitably results in corruption and abuse of power. It's just human nature, and unless the rumors are true about him being a cyborg, even Bill Gates suffers from the same weaknesses everyone else does (and a bunch that some might not wish for, like endless guilt for his transgressions, and winding up muttering something like "Rosebud" on his deathbed).

Admiration? You've got to be kidding.

All the Best,
Joe Blow
Posted by Joe Blow (175 comments )
Link Flag
Taxes
Oh yeah, giving your millions to the world. Because he is such a humanitarian. The only reward: he gets to write that off as donations in his taxes. Because he doesn't really want to be rich, yeah right.
Posted by Sentinel (199 comments )
Link Flag
Jumpin before the train wreck happens...
Yes, the article said he will be transitioning out over the next two years but I bet he is soon departed way before that time. I think Vista is going to tank big time and with the title of Chief Software Architech he won't want that albatross as his legacy. So get out while the gettin is good and when Vista hits the fan he can always claim that he left Vista development on a good track and that those crazy guys at the company messed it up. And I see Balmer having less than 10 years (at the most) left at Microsoft.
Posted by jbcahill (159 comments )
Reply Link Flag
True
It is a good time to jump.

It is better to burn out, than fade away.
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
Link Flag
Vista is good stuff
You forget that one thing MS isn't known for is producing new versions of Windows on a timely basis. It seems every release is late but ultimately successful so by what stretch of your feeble imagination do you think the delays for Vista are going to make it a flop?
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Link Flag
Great News
The IT industry will be much better off without this monopolist and perhaps a better synergy can be gained.
I wonder if he is bowing out as he sees the writing on the wall. Open source and weblications are the future and his company stands to lose a lot of money and cred.
Or maybe he is thinking of joining Google?

Good riddance Gates. Let the real innovation begin.
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Perspective
An old saying goes like this, "A prophet is without honor among his own people." It's so funny that "techies" view Gates so differently than the 99% of the non-techie population. However, such dichotomies between has existed forever.

Bottom line is this: When all of the leaders from the technology companies we discuss so passionately on CNET are long forgotten, history will remember Gates as the single iconic technology figure of his era. He has etched a place in human history and is now headed in the direction of other historic businessmen who spent their latter years giving back to the world.

Say the names Ozzie, Jobs, Hopper, Mauchly, Eckert, Forest and few people know who they are. Say the name Gates and "bingo". And so it will remain for the foreseeable centuries and beyond.

Great job Bill. It's time now for the next Gates' to step up and take this industry to the next level. Can't wait to see what the next generation has to offer.

James.
Posted by James_U (80 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Great news
The IT industry will be much better off without this monopolist and perhaps a greater synergy can be gained through the Web and open source with this inhibitor out of the way.

I wonder if he is bowing out as he sees the writing on the wall. Open source and weblications are the future and his company stands to lose a lot of money and cred.

Or maybe he is thinking of joining Google?

Good riddance Gates and goodbye to Windows, even it is a slow goodbye.

Let the Web Age begin.
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Great News
The IT industry will be much better off without this monopolist and perhaps a greater synergy can be gained through the Web and open source with this inhibitor out of the way.

I wonder if he is bowing out as he sees the writing on the wall. Open source and weblications are the future and his company stands to lose a lot of money and cred.

Or maybe he is thinking of joining Google?

Good riddance Gates and goodbye to Windows, even it is a slow goodbye.

Let the Web Age begin.
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Great News
The IT industry will be much better off without this monopolist and perhaps a greater synergy can be gained through the Web and open source with this inhibitor out of the way.

I wonder if he is bowing out as he sees the writing on the wall. Open source and weblications are the future and his company stands to lose a lot of money and cred.

Or maybe he is thinking of joining Google?

Good riddance Gates and goodbye to Windows, even iof it is a slow goodbye.

Let the Web Age begin.
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What jealousy.
Don't you realize how stupid and jealous you sound from attacking Gates and his achievements? What a simpleton you are.

The man will be remembered for centuries (e.g. Microsoft, funding the world's largest charity), long after you're dead and nothing but a spec of forgotten dust.
Posted by WJeansonne (480 comments )
Link Flag
Great News
The IT industry will be much better off without this monopolist and perhaps a greater synergy can be gained through the Web and open source with this inhibitor out of the way.

I wonder if he is bowing out as he sees the writing on the wall. Open source and weblications are the future and his company stands to lose a lot of money and cred.

Or maybe he is thinking of joining Google?

Good riddance Gates and goodbye to Windows, even if it is a slow goodbye.

Let the Web Age begin.
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Love for that traitor?
You got to be kidding me! He makes 90% of the wordpopulation
that uses a computer leap a decade behind and then leaves
without cleaning up the mess he made and you want us to show
him some respect? My middlefinger he can get!

It's a good thing mister gates goes, if others will follow him
Microsoft might gain what it has been lacking for 30 years real
innovation. No more bad copies of good ideas would be good
start.

So when is Darth Ballmer's time to go?
Posted by barrack (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
So Atlas Shrugs....
It's about time, and the only real sad part is that he's leaving Microsoft intact. I'd prefer he'd shut down the entire operation, and let all those 'open source' fools attempt to do what he did.
He failed to fight the antitrust battle on proper moral grounds, which was his own fault, so he will apologize for all that wealth he made, and all those who have had their lives enriched, and give all of it away, saying...Gee, I'm so sorry!! And when he doesnt hand it out fast enough, or to the "RIGHT' people, we can ***** about that.
Posted by Galt (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
oh, give me a break
comparing Bill Gates with John Galt is pathetic. Galt INVENTED his technology; Gates only copied his.
Posted by Rita McKee (27 comments )
Link Flag
Jim Taggart and Wesley Mouch
Maybe they could be Gates and Balmer.
Posted by open-mind (1027 comments )
Link Flag
Pathetic
Can anyone of you self serving do nothings name another CEO who has given so much? Jobs? HARDLY. Bill clearly cares about people and has invested billions of his own money helping others. He has done this on scale far beyond what anyone else has done with the possible exception of Andrew Carnegie and Carnegie gave away most of his money when he died.

So please, aplaud the man for his generosity and shut up about the rest. Most of you aren't investors even probably employed or employed by a university or some other tax draining entity anyway.
Posted by J. Blow (193 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Bill?
Bill...is that you?
Posted by jbcahill (159 comments )
Link Flag
I agree with you about Bill Gates
Bill Gates is doing an amazing job as philanthrophist and he should continue to do it.

Good or Bad he has done good to technology world in his own way - (Computer is a commodity now!!!).
Posted by Tanjore (322 comments )
Link Flag
You can't buy salvation
Gates will be remembered as a guy who stifled technology by abusing his companies power via the Windows operating system.

He thinks he can buy salvation, but his legacy is the technology and other companies he unfairly and illegally destroyed.

The IT world will be much better off without him.
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
Reply Link Flag
How much wealth did Bill destroy?
Ask yourself, if you think Bill and M$ are such great contributors to the economy, how much wealth did they destroy along the way by using dubious (at the least) practices to stamp out or absorb innovative new companies with technologies that infringed on their domains? We will never know how much further along we would have been in a truly competitive environment.

Oh, yeah, they DID help the anti-virus industry to flourish, didn't they ..... ?
Posted by wlamia (8 comments )
Link Flag
Gee.. thats news!
Whats all the hype about!?

He just said he's not retiring! Yes really High Impact News here!
In all seriousness didn't Ballmer already have full control over
Microsoft anyway!? And what has he done to warrant this
prestige other than the fact that hes Bill Gates friend?? So he
handed his Company off to a Car Salesman.. big deal. He hasn't
retired! My belief is he'll run it to the ground and Bill will get
away scott free and still go down in the history books.

And whats with Gates giving a little giggle when giving a speech.
Thats annoying. Check out all his keynotes and appearances
from this past year, including his CES 2006 keynote speech and
you'll see what I mean, that giggle is seriously annoying and
seemingly rehearsed even up until his supposed -stepping
down- speech. I mean whats he got to be giddy about? And how
about before when Microsoft's had all this talk about them being
thick skinned and being able to survive the onslaught of
innovation from other companies like GOOGLE, SUN and APPLE.
cleary thats not the case in this situation, in contrary to this -
supposed stepping down fiasco-. Which it all really is.
Another Microsoft marketing campaign. Check out this link and
you'll see what I mean - <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.internet-nexus.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.internet-nexus.com/</a>
2005/09/microsoft-executives-discuss-apple.htm

Utterly Pathetic.
Posted by ServedUp (413 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Gee.. thats news!!
Whats all the hype about!?

He just said he's not retiring! Yes really High Impact News here!
In all seriousness didn't Ballmer already have full control over
Microsoft anyway!? And what has he done to warrant this
prestige other than the fact that hes Bill Gates friend?? So he
handed his Company off to a Car Salesman.. big deal. He hasn't
retired! My belief is he'll run it to the ground and Bill will get
away scott free and still go down in the history books.

And whats with Gates giving a little giggle when giving a speech.
Thats annoying. Check out all his keynotes and appearances
from this past year, including his CES 2006 keynote speech and
you'll see what I mean, that giggle is seriously annoying and
seemingly rehearsed even up until his supposed -stepping
down- speech. I mean whats he got to be giddy about? And how
about before when Microsoft's had all this talk about them being
thick skinned and being able to survive the onslaught of
innovation from other companies like GOOGLE, SUN and APPLE.
cleary thats not the case in this situation, in contrary to this -
supposed stepping down fiasco-. Which it all really is.
Another Microsoft marketing campaign. Check out this link and
you'll see what I mean - <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.internet-nexus.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.internet-nexus.com/</a>
2005/09/microsoft-executives-discuss-apple.htm

Utterly Pathetic.
Posted by ServedUp (413 comments )
Reply Link Flag
HaahaHAAaaHaHAaa
Which planet are you from. What is the news here?? Check any major news site and you would likely find this news on the front page, this is number one news even on Google so take you small talk some place else. The funnies part is your mention of Sun as a threat to MS, where have you been??? Did you wake up from some looong hibernation or something? Sun is barely hanging on after laying off a good portion of its work force. And as far as Google and Apple goes MS probably makes more selling office alone then the two combined, so wake up and smell the air.
Posted by FutureGuy (742 comments )
Link Flag
 

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