Ballmer Out, Gates Back In at Microsoft (April Fools' 2011)

This was the April Fools' story we published on April 1, 2011:

In an unscheduled conference call with Microsoft's board of directors this morning, company CEO Steve Ballmer announced he will be stepping down after previous CEO and founder Bill Gates expressed interest in returning.

"While I've enjoyed my tenure and the growth I've overseen for Microsoft, I must step aside to the legend that initially put the Microsoft name on the map," said Ballmer during the call. 

Bill Gates will be returning to the head of Microsoft after leaving in 2006 to work full-time for his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which focuses on research and aid to battle poverty and disease in third-world countries. During the call, he expressed his pride in the work the couple had done, but bemoaned the lack of air conditioning in parts of the world.

"Frankly, I feel a little defeated after not being able to eradicate every last malaria-carrying mosquito and I want to return to a venue where I have a little more control over the bugs," Gates said. "Also, while Ballmer's shirts may beg to differ, Microsoft has a pretty kick-ass air conditioning unit."

While the topic of Gates returning has been brought up in the past, one issue of concern has been Gates' lack of focus on the technology sector and his inability to keep up on modern trends since his departure almost five years ago. However, Gates assured the board that he has many new ideas to help propel the company for the future.

"Microsoft needs to reinvent itself for the coming decade. And that will be shifting some of our focus from the enterprise to the consumer market. When I was departing, we had this little product called the Zune that we thought would be the iPod killer. I have no idea why that project was shelved, but I would like to revisit that. Maybe even tack on some sort of farming simulator in it. I heard those are pretty popular."

Gates also argued that Ballmer's "all-in" the cloud push may not be the position that benefits the company. Although he basically understands the concept, he expressed concern in what would happen if the cloud couldn't store any more data.

"I don't want to invest in a technology, just to have it completely filled up with funny cat videos and people's music playlists. What happens when we hit the cap, and an enterprise-level user can't save his or her PowerPoint presentation? Most people want to know their data is secured and readily available. And only physical media can provide you with that. That's why I want to invest in the sort of technology that propelled the zip drive to prominence. With the latest breakthroughs, we should be able to put twice as much data on a zip disk, without increasing its size."

While there was no Q&A portion of the call, and the board wasn't able to express its thoughts on the change in leadership, the sound of one individual slowly clapping in a sarcastic fashion could be heard as the call ended.

As for Ballmer, he immediately released a statement saying he had taken a VP position with Once released, Microsoft security ushered Ballmer off the campus, but not before performing a full body search for any Microsoft documentation. Afterwards, Ballmer, chest gleaming and long, blond hair flowing in the wind, was heard chanting "DEVELOPERS," as he flew off into our dreams.

Happy April Fools' day! We're tracking all the tech-related April Fools jokes on the Web today -- drop us a line at [email protected] and let us know what other ones you find.

About the Author

Chris Paoli is the site producer for and


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