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Gates Stepping Down, Names Ballmer CEO of Microsoft

Bill Gates announced January 13 that he is stepping down as CEO of Microsoft and named Steve Ballmer to fill that post. Ballmer will also become a director of the company, effective January 27, 2000. Gates acquires a new title, chief software architect, and will continue as chairman of the board of directors. Gates said that his new position will have two effects on the company and his own role: “It gives me time to think about the future of the company,” he said and added that his new title reflects the direction Microsoft will take over the coming months and years. Gates and Ballmer both stated that Microsoft will begin emphasizing software development and delivery, with Ballmer emphasizing the Internet experience as the target of much of the new software planning. Gates added that small businesses will be another target market for the expanded software development efforts. When asked whether the new direction and new executive roles will work if the company suffered a breakup, rumored to be under discussion as a settlement of the Department of Justice (DOJ) suit, Ballmer responded heatedly, “it would be reckless and totally irresponsible to break up Microsoft.” Gates said that he was excited about his new title and its responsibilities, adding “I have no regrets at all. It’s been a great 25 years.” He said that he’s looking forward to working with the product groups and joked that he might threaten to write code. Gates mentioned the development of a new generation of the interface but didn’t elaborate. Ballmer said that some of the effects of the new direction would be seen at the Professional Developers Conference (PDC) this summer.

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