Bill Gates to transition out of a day-to-day role in Microsoft

Microsoft’s press release verbatim:

REDMOND, Wash. — June 15, 2006 — Microsoft Corp. today announced that effective July 2008 Bill Gates, chairman, will transition out of a day-to-day role in the company to spend more time on his global health and education work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The company announced a two-year transition process to ensure that there is a smooth and orderly transfer of Gates’ daily responsibilities, and said that after July 2008 Gates would continue to serve as the company’s chairman and an advisor on key development projects

The company announced that Chief Technical Officer Ray Ozzie will immediately assume the title of chief software architect and begin working side by side with Gates on all technical architecture and product oversight responsibilities, to ensure a smooth transition. Similarly, Chief Technical Officer Craig Mundie will immediately take the new title of chief research and strategy officer and will work closely with Gates to assume his responsibility for the company’s research and incubation efforts; Mundie also will partner with general counsel Brad Smith to guide Microsoft’s intellectual property and technology policy efforts.

“Our business and technical leadership has never been stronger, and Microsoft is well-positioned for success in the years ahead. I feel very fortunate to have such great technical leaders like Ray and Craig at the company,” Gates said. “I remain fully committed and full time at Microsoft through June 2008 and will be working side by side with Ray and Craig to ensure that a smooth transition occurs.”

“This was a hard decision for me,” Gates added. “I’m very lucky to have two passions that I feel are so important and so challenging. As I prepare for this change, I firmly believe the road ahead for Microsoft is as bright as ever.”

In September 2005 Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer organized the company into three divisions under presidents Jim Allchin, Kevin Johnson, Robbie Bach and Jeff Raikes, who were given much greater responsibility for product development and strategy decisions within their respective businesses. In August 2005 the company appointed Kevin Turner as chief operating officer.

“Bill and I are confident we’ve got a great team that can step up to fill his shoes and drive Microsoft innovation forward without missing a beat,” Ballmer said. “We will continue to hire the world’s best technical talent and give them the tools to do their best work, and we will continue to tackle the biggest challenges and opportunities for our customers by investing for the long term.”

Ballmer and Gates noted that Microsoft has been steadily expanding its senior leadership in recent years, and that today’s announcement continues a transition process that has been underway for several years. In January 2000, Gates assumed the role of chief software architect and Ballmer assumed the role of CEO, responsible for all day-to-day operations and company business strategy.

“This is a very sensible and thorough approach. A two-year transition will ensure that the company has a smooth transfer of strategy and knowledge from Bill to the next generation of leaders,” said James I. Cash, Ph.D., member of the Microsoft board of directors and former James E. Robison Professor, Harvard Business School. “Steve and his management team are very impressive, and I’m confident the company will not miss a step.”

Ozzie, 50, worked on the first electronic spreadsheet, VisiCalc, in the early 1980s, then joined Lotus Development Corp. in 1983 to develop Lotus Symphony, an MS-DOS-based integrated software management product that combined word processing, spreadsheet, business graphics, data management and communications capabilities. In 1984, Ozzie formed Iris Associates Inc. to develop Lotus Notes. In 1997 Ozzie founded Groove Networks, where he developed Groove Virtual Office. Microsoft acquired Groove Networks in April 2005 and named Ozzie chief technical officer.

Mundie, 56, joined Microsoft in 1992 to create and run the Consumer Platforms Division, which was responsible for developing non-PC platform and service offerings including the Microsoft® Windows CE operating system; software for handheld PCs, Pocket PCs and Auto PCs; and early telephony products. Mundie also started Microsoft’s digital TV efforts and acquired and managed the WebTV Networks Inc. subsidiary. Mundie is also the original champion of the Trustworthy Computing Initiative at Microsoft, which has influenced Microsoft’s software development strategy. His current responsibilities also include global technology policy and a variety of technical and business incubation activities.

Ozzie and Mundie will continue to report to Gates. At an appropriate time during the two-year transition period, they will shift to reporting to Ballmer.

MacDailyNews Take: Buh-bye, Bill. No sense sticking around for the decline and fall, of course. Bill’s lifting his helicopter off the Titanic just in time. Apple will thrive regardless of what happens, but having Ballmer left to captain the ship sure won’t hurt the Cupertino Mac- and iPod-maker. We believe it can only help.

Introducing the super-fast, blogging, podcasting, do-everything-out-of-the-box MacBook.  Starting at just $1099.
Get the new iMac with Intel Core Duo for as low as $31 A MONTH with Free shipping!
Get the MacBook Pro with Intel Core Duo for as low as $47 A MONTH with Free Shipping!
Apple’s new Mac mini. Intel Core, up to 4 times faster. Starting at just $599. Free shipping.
iPod. 15,000 songs. 25,000 photos. 150 hours of video. The new iPod. 30GB and 60GB models start at just $299. Free shipping.
Connect iPod to your television set with the iPod AV Cable. Just $19.
iPod Radio Remote. Listen to FM radio on your iPod and control everything with a convenient wired remote. Just $49.


  1. Everyone who is a Mac fan should HOPE they keep Ballmer on. It’s his “leadership” that has created this train wreck that is allowing everyone else to wrestle control away from those idiots.

    Keep on driving that thing into the ground Stevie-boy!

  2. So long Bill. I’m happy for you and admire your foundation. The world is a better place because of it.

    I also believe that his departure will be quicker than 2 years. I believe that are after 6 months he will have little to do with MS.

  3. This is big…

    Billie Gates is running away….

    OS X was just to much for him I fear….

    The M$ ship is lost and sinking and Billie Gates is not dumb…..


    The man could not even keep a stright face when he spoke of “Longhornnnnnnnnnn”!

  4. Not to bid him good riddance, but if he really intends to spend more effort on global health and education, I wish him all the best. He’s got tons of money and clout, and as a result, he can really have a significant impact in the Third World on those two fronts. Best of luck!

  5. This is bad news for Apple. Gates was increasingly becoming Apple’s biggest ally. I predict Microsoft’s price remain largely unchanged as a result of this news; one of those “I have some good news and I have some bad news” sort of things.

  6. Yeah, keeping Ballmer around certainly helps Apple and other tech companies. I wonder how it will impact the MS/Apple relationship. Given their long history I’m sure Gates & Jobs were able to call each other and talk about stuff. I can’t see Jobs having the same type of conversation with Ballmer throwing chairs while sweating onto the speaker phone.

  7. When you think of all the bad karma Bill Gates has spread with his half baked OS’s, he will have to spread billions more dollars around to the world’s unfortunate just to break even.

    Hell, he hasn’t even made up for Windows ME yet.

  8. Although I’m not a Microsoft fan, I think this is a big change. This marks a new change for Microsoft to not have Billy there. I wish them luck.

    And kudos to him for working on something so important.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.