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Bill Gates in transition

He won't be spending nearly as much time with Microsoft as he used to, but Fortune points out he still has company business to attend to.

With Bill Gates just days away from his semi-retirement from Microsoft, look for a tidal wave of reminiscences and glossy magazine spreads.

Yes, we do indeed have our own in the works; more on that in a sec. But one of the first to arrive is Fortune magazine's package, "Microsoft Without Gates," published online Friday.

Bill Gates bench-presses
Even after he steps down from his day-to-day role at Microsoft, Bill Gates still plans to do some heavy lifting--for the company, for the Gates Foundation, and in his own personal pursuits. Corinne Schulze/CNET

Fortune, known for its rankings of the rich and the companies they've built up, lauds the 52-year-old who former Microsoftie Nathan Myhrvold describes as "one of the greatest business minds of all time" and lays out how "Bill Gates 2.0" will divide his time among three offices, at Microsoft, at the Gates Foundation, and at a personal workspace.

It also tells how as a teen he got his hands on a used Teletype machine to hone his mainframe programming skills.

One unfinished-business tidbit is worth noting in light of Microsoft's failure to acquire all or a portion of Yahoo.

The one concrete commitment Gates has made to (CEO Steve) Ballmer, other than continuing to chair board meetings, is that he will keep working with the search and advertising team. He's promised he'll spend two and a half hours on it each week.

Fortune also talks about how the company plans to revive a reputation that's been singed by a number of factors, not least of them Apple's ongoing Mac vs. Vista ad campaign, as it heads toward the Windows 7 era.

The new marketing campaign, which is supposed to run for three years beginning later this year, is an urgent attempt at triage for both Windows and the larger Microsoft brand. The expensive, aggressive, long-overdue rejoinder to Apple will be unprecedented at the company in its scope...

...In the next 18 months Microsoft will launch three separate "Windows" products, more or less in tandem. Aside from the flagship Windows 7, which will succeed Vista for PCs, the company will launch a new version of Windows Mobile as well as a new version of the services known as Windows Live. For the first time, they're going to be promoted as aspects of the same thing.

As noted, CNET next week will have its own package looking at Bill Gates' accomplishments, and at what lies ahead both for the man and for Microsoft. As I write this,'s Ina Fried is in Redmond after some face time with the Microsoft chairman, and she promises she'll have some good stories to share.