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Ballmer's Microsoft swan song might not be far away

The former Microsoft chief executive and current director says that he's quieter in board meetings now and isn't sure how long he'll stay in that role.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger

Steve Ballmer James Martin/CNET
Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer may be leaving the company he once called his "child" sooner than some expected.

Ballmer, who left his role as CEO earlier this year after Microsoft appointed Satya Nadella to the post, currently sits on the company's board of directors. However, in an interview published Sunday by the Wall Street Journal, Ballmer indicated that he's unsure how much longer he'll sit on the software giants board, saying that it "depends on how I see [the] rest of my life playing out."

Ballmer has been a longtime Microsoft board member and is one of the company's largest individual shareholders, meaning his opinion carries some weight. However, he told the Journal that he didn't talk much in recent board meetings because he's no longer chief executive and that the whole feel as director is "different."

That the former CEO might be looking for the door at Microsoft would signal a significant change for a man who has dedicated his life to the software giant for decades. But it's clear now that his influence is waning at Microsoft. And with Bill Gates coming back to advise Nadella, Ballmer's role at the company is unclear.

Ballmer didn't tell the Journal when he might consider leaving Microsoft's board, let alone confirm it could even happen. So while he might be tipping the move now, there's no knowing when it may actually play out.