Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has announced that will retire from his role at the software giant within one year, marking the beginning of the end for one of the more controversial and colourful chief executives in the industry.
Ballmer said it is the “right time to retire” as the company has now gone through a huge transition during which he has overseen the introduction of its Windows 8 operating system, which so far has failed to ignite much interest in the market.
“We have embarked on a new strategy with a new organization and we have an amazing senior leadership team," said Ballmer.
"My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our company’s transformation to a devices and services company. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction.”
There have been calls for Ballmer to step down for some time at Microsoft after a string of product disasters, such as the Surface tablets and the slow move into the mobile space with devices running its Windows Phone mobile operating system languishing behind Android and iPhone devices.
The Microsoft board of directors has appointed a special committee to oversee the transition to a new leader, with Bill Gates one of the members who will oversee the selection process.
“As a member of the succession planning committee, I’ll work closely with the other members of the board to identify a great new CEO,” said Gates. “We’re fortunate to have Steve in his role until the new CEO assumes these duties.”
Ballmer is one of the most outspoken and colourful tech chief executives in the market, with famous incidents such as his infamous "developers" speech cited regularly, both by those who saw it as a sign of his passion for Microsoft and those who have seen him as an embarrassment to the company.
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