Ballmer to retire -- around 2017

In a wide ranging speech to graduate students at Stanford's business school, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer addressed a number of topics, including when he plans to step down from the software maker.

Ballmer said his current plan is to retire after his three sons are all out of high school, in about 12 years. Ballmer has spoken to crowds within Microsoft about these plans in the past, so the fact he has given his 624-week notice won't come as a big shock.

The Microsoft CEO made many references to the fact that the Xbox successor is being unveiled tonight, but refused to divulge any new details, instead encouraging the crowd to take a night off of studying and watch the MTV special at 6:30 PT tonight.

In the question and answer session, Ballmer was also quizzed on what he would most likely be doing if he were not at Microsoft. Probably selling auto insurance, said Ballmer, who said he admired Progressive Auto Insurance, a company that had heavily recruited him both during his undergraduate years and while he was a student at the Stanford business school.

Ballmer eventually left the business school after the first year to join Microsoft, an issue that was the subject of many jokes during the hourlong chat.

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    During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried has changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley. These days, most of her attention is focused on Microsoft. E-mail Ina.

     

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