Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is to retire within 12 months, according to a statement just released by the company - "upon the completion of a process to choose his successor".
In the meantime, "Ballmer will continue as CEO and will lead Microsoft through the next steps of its transformation to a devices and services company," said the company in a statement.
"There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time," Ballmer said.
"We have embarked on a new strategy with a new organization and we have an amazing Senior Leadership Team. 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."
The board of directors has appointed a "special committee" to direct the process, which will also include the company's founder Bill Gates.
This committee is chaired by John Thompson, the board's lead independent director, and in addition to chairman of the board Gates, will also comprise the chairman of the company's audit committee Chuck Noski and the chairman of the compensation committee, Steve Luczo.
The committee is working with executive recruitment company Heidrick & Struggles International to identify both external and internal candidates.
The company's statement indicates that Gates will be closely involved in the identification and selection of Ballmer's successor as CEO.
"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," said Gates. "We're fortunate to have Steve in his role until the new CEO assumes these duties."
What are your experiences of working for Microsoft under Steve Ballmer - or even working directly with Ballmer?
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