Gates promotes Ballmer to CEO, moves to software role

Microsoft Corporation announced Thursday that co-founder Bill Gates is moving into a new position as chairman and "Chief Software Architect" as president Steve Ballmer is promoted to president and CEO. Gates says he wishes to spend the majority of his time helping the software development teams at Microsoft deliver the next generation of Windows and Windows services. Ballmer, meanwhile, will take over the management of the company; he took over the day-to-day business operations of Microsoft a year ago.

"It is a great pleasure for me to announce that Steve Ballmer, my long-term partner in building Microsoft and a great business leader, is being named CEO," said Gates. "These are dramatic times in our industry. As we look ahead to what it will take to do an amazing job executing against our new strategic direction of building next-generation services for our customers, we recognize that we must refocus and reallocate our resources and talents against our key priorities and challenges."

With the release of Windows 2000, Gates feels that its time for him to once again assume the mantle of software architect. The new vision for the company calls for new generations of consumer Windows software every year for the foreseeable future while a set of Next Generation Windows Services (NGWS) will power new products and services that will benefit consumers and business users alike. Key releases this year such as SQL Server 2000, Exchange Server 2000, and a new version of Visual Studio will flesh out the strategy, Ballmer says, while an April developers forum will provide a more formal look at the company's plans.

"Software is the key to the future," says Microsoft CEO and president Steve Ballmer. "It will drive and accelerate innovations in hardware, wireless, broadband, e-commerce and other fields. Our vision is to create a new services platform that will ignite new opportunities for literally thousands of partners and customers around the world."

Speculation has arisen that the management change is a foreshadowing of an eventual breakup of the company. However, both Ballmer and Gates strongly denied that Microsoft was open to such an option

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