Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to retire in the next 12 months

"DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS!"

Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer will retire within the next 12 months, according to a press release from the company. Leading the search for a successor, while Ballmer spends his last months at the helm of the tech giant, are big names in Microsoft's board of directors such as Chair John Thompson and Bill Gates.

The news will surely have a large affect on Microsoft, as the company will now begin looking for a replacement to Ballmer. With the company coming out of a major transition, the new CEO will have many hurdles to climb to make sure Microsoft stays ahead of the technology wave. This has become immediately evident as Microsoft's stock reacted quickly, up 6.7% in pre-market trading.

Ballmer made a statement on his leave in the press release, calling out the rapid changes in strategy we have seen from Microsoft since Ballmer became CEO in January 2000:

There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time. We have embarked on a new strategy with a new organization and we have an amazing Senior Leadership Team. 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.

In a separate open letter published by Microsoft, he expressed his devotion to Microsoft:

Microsoft is an amazing place. I love this company. I love the way we helped invent and popularize computing and the PC. I love the bigness and boldness of our bets. I love our people and their talent and our willingness to accept and embrace their range of capabilities, including their quirks. I love the way we embrace and work with other companies to change the world and succeed together. I love the breadth and diversity of our customers, from consumer to enterprise, across industries, countries, and people of all backgrounds and age groups.

Fans and analysts have all been surprised by this news, but many seem relieved that Microsoft will receive a fresh pair of eyes to watch over operations, and perhaps boost the status of their products. In addition, the question arises to whether Ballmer chose to retire on his own will, or was asked to.

Ballmer joined Microsoft in June 1980 as Microsoft's 30th employee and a business manager. He would slowly rise to head a variety of divisions under Bill Gates, leading development of a variety of services such as the .NET Framework.

Source: Microsoft | Image: Microsoft

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Nokia: Instagram coming to Windows Phone (maybe)

Next Story

Microsoft stock surges after Ballmer announces retirement plans

84 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

Going by how Microsoft has been referencing time and release windows recently, I'm going to assume this means his last day will be in 11 months and 29 days around 4:59PM.

Thank **** for that. Hopefully Microsoft can start making decent products again. This guy has been ****ing useless.

I don't like the guy either but under his reign we had good versions of Windows, the developer division is doing quite good (open source of .NET web stack, a lot of involvement in open source software) and Azure is good as a cloud solution.

I liked Gates a lot as CEO but frankly Microsoft did good also under Ballmer.

I like Ballmer. But this is probably good for him and the company. While Microsoft's profits are high their image since the iPhone came out has taken repeated beatings. Fresh blood to shake things up a bit will be good I think. Of course it could go the other way but lets try not to think about that!

No CEO retires with a definitive schedule unless they already have a successor and a hand over plan. It's also highly unusual for a CEO to start a re-org and announce leaving a month later.
I believe what's happened here is that some talent scouting of an external talent has lead to this opportunity arising and the successor will already be known and signed up.
I doubt it's Elop. To make this surprise announcement means its a hurried opportunity that they had to take.
It will either be Sinofsky (after learning a lesson of either his or the companies making - his new position was just announced so opportunity rife) or someone from a highly dynamic tech company who has made a big impression.
My bet is on a Sinofsky and MS needed to act now to secure the deal.

londan said,
My bet is on a Sinofsky and MS needed to act now to secure the deal.

Oh man I love it.... Kill that 'Start Button' !!! Dump that desktop ;-) Touch me, feel me, Tell Me... Sinofsky

If you start thinking in the future the Xbox is your home PC, your windows 8 tablet is your primary interface and our windows 8 phone is your mobile alternative.

It's the way forward and it works better then sitting on a desktop in your house. I'm halfway there using an HDMI cable for my tablet. Just need that PC functionality form my TV to achieve the rest.

Love or hate Ballmer, he kept Microsoft as one of the wealthiest tech companies in the world for over a decade. Even managed a few years of record profits as well. That's a track record that's going to be hard to beat. Despite all the failures and missed opportunities he kept Microsoft rolling strong. Never afraid to cut off a limb if it made the tree stronger. Plus, the dude must be one smooth talker because he's locked down some amazing deals over the years. Can you imagine where Windows Phone would be if Microsoft didn't secure Nokia? Or how much farther behind Microsoft would be if they didn't already have a music and video service with Zune? Windows now runs on ARM and the Xbox One looks posed to usher in a new era of home entertainment. And Office 365 which is apparently just printing money now. It's been a wild ride but an exciting one. Now that Microsoft has completed their reorganization it should be leaner, meaner and ready for the future. Whoever takes over is going to have some pretty big shoes to fill and hopefully his (or hers) commitment and belief in Microsoft is just as strong as Ballmer's.

But if there is one major knock I would give to Ballmer it's that he waited too long to get rid of that useless marketing department. lol

So, and after all, he was forced to quit.

Good by, we won't miss you!.

Anyways, i hope that the new CEO will kill the Metro nonsense.

Brony said,
So, and after all, he was forced to quit.

Good by, we won't miss you!.

Anyways, i hope that the new CEO will kill the Metro nonsense.

Nice trolling. Nowhere does it say he was forced out. And why would they kill metro? That makes no sense.

Dot Matrix said,

Nice trolling. Nowhere does it say he was forced out. And why would they kill metro? That makes no sense.


First and foremost: would you really expect him to say "I was forced to leave" if it was true?
Said that something is going on.... You do not leave a company in the middle of a radical reorganization, transformation or whatever you prefer to call it unless something, unexpected I would add, happened.
We will know in due time....

Fritzly said,

First and foremost: would you really expect him to say "I was forced to leave" if it was true?
Said that something is going on.... You do not leave a company in the middle of a radical reorganization, transformation or whatever you prefer to call it unless something, unexpected I would add, happened.
We will know in due time....

Middle? Microsoft has already completed their transformation.

Dot Matrix said,

Middle? Microsoft has already completed their transformation.


On paper? Yes it did but the difficult part, which is fine tuning and adjustments is all ahead....

Dot Matrix said,

Nice trolling. Nowhere does it say he was forced out. And why would they kill metro? That makes no sense.

Do you know what incentive to some people, like Ballmer to work every day?, money? incentive to do the right?, boredom? Of course not, it is power!. So if he is quitting is because he was forced to do that (or he has some other issues).

Brony, you don't know Steve Ballmer personally, do you? Then please don't spout off what you think his incentive for working there is. Again, you need to leave forums like this if all you're going to do is troll.

Honestly shocked to see this news today. I think it's a good move, it's good to change CEO's. Especially after the re-org he's just done. That's going to need to some long term support.

As much as people would like to see Bill Gates return, won't happen. I think Bill made the right call - build a company and make your fortune, get out and do what you really want in life. I think MS is in his blood but over the years it's evident he has other passions where he can utilize his well-earned fortune.

WAT? That came out of left field. I can't say that its a bad thing...though I suppose who they pick to replace him with will determine that. It would be good to bring in a younger, full-of-ideas type (think Bill Gates circa 1988).
Too bad I didn't buy some MS stock yesterday...

Eh not a big surprise.. pushing 60, supposedly worth about 15 billion... sounds like a good time to buy an island somewhere and enjoy it while he can.

Let's get real technical since you want to.

He got the position January 2000. So my original comment should be:

For stock owners it's the best news in like 13.5 years

Happy now?

He will enjoy his retirement more than hearing all the negative news when staying in power...
Wonder who's the next CEO?

edit: judging from the shares, it might very well be Elop for CEO and a buyout of Nokia ;-)

Actually this may not be a bad thing. Ballmer already stated that Microsoft is transitioning to being more of a hardware company and Nokia is doing a great job with their hardware. I just wonder what he could bring to the table for Windows.

wv@gt said,
Actually this may not be a bad thing. Ballmer already stated that Microsoft is transitioning to being more of a hardware company and Nokia is doing a great job with their hardware. I just wonder what he could bring to the table for Windows.
Well, probably a good kick in the rear for WP8 since Nokia wants that to develop further and more quickly. Since the two will be more closely aligned as time goes on, perhaps that'll carry over to Windows as well.

Hardware wise, you're right. Nokia has been doing a great job.

For sure. just a few years ago, it was "Within 10 years". Having said that, it reminds me of the CEO story with the envelopes (1: Blame your predecessor, 2: Blame external factors, 3: Resign) and I'm curious just how bad things are at Microsoft for him to issue a complete reorganization of the company, and then resign immediately afterwards.

greenwizard88 said,
For sure. just a few years ago, it was "Within 10 years". Having said that, it reminds me of the CEO story with the envelopes (1: Blame your predecessor, 2: Blame external factors, 3: Resign) and I'm curious just how bad things are at Microsoft for him to issue a complete reorganization of the company, and then resign immediately afterwards.

Why do things have to be bad for a CEO to retire? Within 12 months sounds like when the new reorg will be fully complete, which was his big goal. He's been at MS for so long, if Bill can up and retire so can Ballmer without it meaning anything more than them being old and wanting to do something else now.

First he never blamed anyone. Second, reorganization doesn't mean things are bad at Microsoft. It's to ensure that teams work more closely and that there is even more cross platform integration within Microsoft services and products in future. Not long ago, Apple did a similar reorganization. And last, there is a lot of difference between "resigning immediately afterwards" and retiring after 13 successful years of leading the company. I think he was a damn good CEO and I applaud him for stepping down when he did and giving others a chance.

Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer will retire at the end of this year, according to a press release from the company.

"Within the next 12 months" doesn't mean at the end of the year.
That said, the keynotes aren't going to be quite as entertaining without him.

Sszecret said,

That said, the keynotes aren't going to be quite as entertaining without him.

They have that one robot they made to mimic the "developers, developers, developers" chant, along with the orangutan gestures Steve Ballmer did.

He still owns a huge chunk of Microsoft, he could make an appearance as a paid spokesperson to yell, "Developers, developers, developers"..

good!! the horrible options like stacking has to be some of the poorest management ive seen in an organisation. Microsoft have some of the most talented people and teams in the world yet their CEO seems intend in having them fight against each other. I still can't believe there is not a close integration and branding across all of Microsoft services.

Take skydrive, why it's not the core storage for everything microsoft is unbelievable, it seems that they are only just realising how great it is and finally starting to do it, but this integration should have been done years ago, not starting with Windows 8.

Unless he gets replaced by someone who doesn't have the company performing as well. People may not like Steve Ballmer, but he's made the company very profitable and good things are happening under his watch. It's too bad it took so long for it to happen, and I have no idea if this is forced or if he's doing this of his own volition, but it could be good, but it could be not so good. Only time and a replacement will tell.

I also can't believe how Microsoft has been losing trademark law suits for brands it has pioneered and that gives them at least a cool factor (Metro, SkyDrive). I have been on the side of replacing Ballmer with a younger CEO over the last five years. I'm not biased about his age; it's just that in the tech world, the younger CEOs are really kicking butt.

Still on to start menu? Jeez Louise..

dvb2000 said,
yeah, Microsoft sees the light!. Windows 9 brings back the start menu

New CEO, New CEO, New CEO!

minster11 said,
Still on to start menu? Jeez Louise..

Well that is the worst thing ever happened in human history... this fiasco will lead to huge loses for MS.

DaveBG said,

Well that is the worst thing ever happened in human history... this fiasco will lead to huge loses for MS.

People had berated Microsoft when they added the Start menu and taskbar in Windows 95... Now look where we are.

JaykeBird said,

People had berated Microsoft when they added the Start menu and taskbar in Windows 95... Now look where we are.


You are too ignorant. It NOT about the start menu. The METRO interface is inefficient, slow and for many people UGLY.

You could say the same thing about the start menu - there were (and still are, to a lesser extent) folks that think that program manager was the pinnacle of application menu/windowing interfaces. It doesn't make it right, but it doesn't make it wrong, either - it's just an opinion.

cluberti said,
You could say the same thing about the start menu - there were (and still are, to a lesser extent) folks that think that program manager was the pinnacle of application menu/windowing interfaces. It doesn't make it right, but it doesn't make it wrong, either - it's just an opinion.

Well said.