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Ballmer Becomes CEO

Apparently Bill Gates is happy with the job Steve Ballmer has done as Microsoft Corp.'s president since appointing him to the position in July of 1998. Gates today promoted Ballmer to CEO. In turn, Gates, who was CEO, created a new position for himself: Chief Software Architect. He will also continue as the company's chairman.

"We need to continue to evolve the management structure at Microsoft," Gates said.

Gates plans to dedicate his time to the next generation of Windows platforms and services. "I'll take on a new role that will allow me to spend almost 100 percent of my time on new software technologies," he says.

Although Gates joked about threatening to actually write code, his new chores will primarily consist of strategizing with the product groups.

"It's a milestone to look forward and say 'What can software, and in particular Microsoft software, do to make things a lot better in the 10 years to come?'"

Ballmer, on the other hand, will manage the company and become a member of the Microsoft board of directors by the end of this month.

In the news conference announcing the change, Ballmer foreshadowed Microsoft's ideas for the future.

"Our plan is to create a new software platform that will ignite literally thousands of opportunities for our partners and customers around the world," he says.

Ballmer referred to this new vision loosely as the next generation Windows Services Platform. The entire road map extends over a 3-year period. For starters, the company will lay out a set of initiatives and deliverables in more detail this spring at an event called Forum 2000.

"At the Professional Developer's Conference this summer, we'll start issuing some of the deliverables, real tangible software that people will work with and think of as part of this next generation's opportunity," he says.

When asked if the changing of the guard was a response to the rumors that the DOJ was planning to suggest that Microsoft be broken up, Ballmer chose to answer that a breakup remedy would be a mistake.

"I think it would be absolutely reckless and irresponsible for anyone to try and break up this company. I think it would be unprecedented, and I think it would be the single greatest disservice that anybody could do to consumers in this country -- it would be reckless beyond belief." -Thomas Sullivan

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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