When I read this first in PCWorld.com, my initial reaction was “WHAAAT??”. It really made me shocked. But anyway, I don’t if this is a good news or sad news but it’s official already. In 2008, Bill Gates will retire from his day job as chief software architect of Microsoft, the company he founded more than three decades ago.
Gates said he is leaving gradually in order to smooth the transition of his duties to the two men who will assume them–chief technical officers Ray Ozzie and Craig Mundie, who have been named chief software architect and chief research and strategy officer, respectively, effective immediately.
“Except for a little vacation this summer that’s longer than normal, I’ll be working as hard as I ever have over the next two years,” Gates told a news conference at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington.
However Gates will likely be spending less time at the company, especially after Ozzie and Mundie begin reporting to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer next year.
Gates emphasized that he has no plans to ever give up his position as chairman of Microsoft’s board of directors. “I don’t see a time in the future when I won’t be chairman of this company,” he said. “I see myself as always being the largest shareholder in Microsoft. Steve is the second largest, and I think we both take a lot of pride in that.”
Gates said he plans to devote more and more time to his role as chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which he says “will have grown” significantly. The foundation is devoted to promoting innovation in global health and education.
Gates admitted he has no real sense of what it will be like to leave Microsoft after so many years. “I don’t know what it will feel like not to come in here every day and work for 10 hours,” he said. “It’s a little bit of an unknown there.” But he has two years to prepare, he added, so “I’ll see what that’s like when I get there.”
Even as he announced his retirement plans, Gates sounded as enthusiastic about Microsoft’s future as he has since he became an international icon for the age of personal computing. “The shape of computing and how software will change entertainment and business–we really are just at the beginning of that,” he said.