According to a report over on AllThingsD, the departure of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is more sudden than what was portrayed by the company's announcement. Ballmer will be retiring within the next year in a planned transition with a replacement to be found. The board of directors will be working with executive recruiting firm Heidrick & Struggles International to get the best name for the job.
The decision to retire would have been down to Ballmer, but interviews with folk both inside and outside Microsoft state that the CEO had not planned to leave at this point in time, especially so soon after the recent restructuring of the company, which Ballmer played a major part in. It's believed Ballmer, along with the board and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates all agreed that it would be best if he left sooner than later.
Bill Gates has been a big supporter of the current Microsoft CEO, previously rejecting suggestions from outside for Ballmer to be replaced. It's not all fun and games as AllThingsD’s John Paczkowski wrote in an interesting piece last week: "Here’s one metric by which Ballmer will be judged harshly. On the last day of 1999, the day before he took over as CEO, Microsoft’s market capitalization was $600 billion. On the day before he announced his intention to retire, it was less than $270 billion."
While there's speculation in the AllThingsD report, it's certainly worth checking out for the full read. Whatever the reason may be for Ballmer stepping down, we're sure a fresh breathe of life at the top of the company can't be a bad thing. There are also reports surfacing on other publications that Ballmer had indeed planned retirement and all is going according to plan.
It'll be interesting to see how this story develops and who will be selected as the next CEO - possibly Stephen Elop? That said, reasoning doesn't particularly matter to consumers - Ballmer's still leaving Microsoft, regardless to what conclusion we come to.