Gates said he will, ceding the chief software architect title immediately, while remaining a full-time employee for the next two years. In July 2008, he will remain as a part-time employee and chairman.
Microsoft's chief technical officer, Ray Ozzie, will immediately assume the title of chief software architect, Gates said. In addition, Craig Mundie, CTO for advanced strategies and policy, will immediately take the new title of chief research and strategy officer and will assume Gates' responsibilities for the company's research and incubation efforts.
Gates' announcement comes as his company battles pressures on all fronts: a sagging stock price, competition from Google and nagging delays in the rollout of the Vista operating system.
Analysts and observers couldn't help but.
"This is probably a once-in-a-generation guy," said John Reimer, an analyst with Forrester Research. Said Umesh Ramakrishnan, vice chairman of executive search firm Christian and Timbers, "Bill Gates is bigger than life. He has led what for this generation has been the most storied technology firm."
Gates said he is a man with no regrets. After 30 years of leading Microsoft's software strategy, he said there is little he would do differently. Following the big news, Gates and CEO Steve Ballmerfor both Gates and the company he founded.
CNET News.com readers greeted the news with a mix of adoration and relief, with some criticizing his professional track record and the value of his philanthropy. And some came to his defense.
"You can hate the man for his company's business practices, but he gives back big-time," to News.com's TalkBack forum. "Keep that in mind when vilifying him."
Turning up the heat
Microsoft and Apple Computer were both in the hot seat this week, but they will soon be working side by side.
Millions of Windows users mayfor an unfinished Microsoft antipiracy tool. The software maker has been delivering a prerelease version of Windows Genuine Advantage Notifications software to PCs as a "high priority" item in the built-in update feature in Windows. The tool, also known as WGA Notifications, is used to validate the authenticity of Windows software installed on a PC.