Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to retire in 12 months' time

Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer will be retiring within 12 months, the company has confirmed.

Microsoft's larger than life CEO Steve Ballmer will be retiring within the next 12 months, the software giant has today confirmed.

A new leader has not yet been found, although in a statement on its website, Microsoft explained that Ballmer will continue to helm the firm until a replacement is on board. Neither Microsoft nor Ballmer himself have given reasons as to why he is to retire now.

"There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time," Ballmer stated in an internal email, "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.

"This is an emotional and difficult thing for me to do. I take this step in the best interests of the company I love; it is the thing outside of my family and closest friends that matters to me most.

"Microsoft has all its best days ahead. Know you are part of the best team in the industry and have the right technology assets. We cannot and will not miss a beat in these transitions. I am focused and driving hard and know I can count on all of you to do the same. Let's do ourselves proud." The full email can be read on Microsoft's site.

A board of directors including none other than Bill Gates has apparently been appointed to select the new boss. Whether they choose someone with such interesting taste in jumpers or who has such skill in saying "developers" remains to be seen. Some names being unofficially discussed include Nokia CEO Stephen Elop and former Windows chief Steven Sinofsky, although no names have been mentioned by Microsoft.

"As a member of the succession planning committee, I'll work closely with the other members of the board to identify a great new CEO," Bill Gates stated on the Microsoft website. "We're fortunate to have Steve in his role until the new CEO assumes these duties."

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