Steve Ballmer's planned departure from Microsoft reportedly more sudden than depicted

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.

Source: AllThingsD

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • Well, I think he did an OK job nonetheless. But someone else has to take control of Microsoft, because they are too slow right now.
  • But i think that was the point of the restructuring (which was his idea wasn't it?). Perhaps the board wanted the restructuring which included Balmer being replaced
  • Kinda tend to disagree with this sentiment, he presided over windows vista (possibly the worst release of an OS in Microsoft history even though I personally didn't think it was that bad) he missed the train on mobile systems in 2007-2008 which is why Microsoft is fighting an uphill battle for market share now. There are some really good things he has done and that they are now moving towards but apple and google have stolen the dominant positions in multiple markets under his watch. The next CEO is going to have their work cut out for them imho.
  • First off, I do think some change will be good, that Microsoft under Ballmer should have done a better job anticipating the mobile revolution, and that they should not have just rested on their laurels with Windows Mobile and the tablet edition of Windows. From an operating system side, Microsoft should have been driving the mobile revolution much earlier.
    Having said that, I read this "letter" (link below) this morning and I thought it had some good points.  The author lost me a little when he misquoted Ballmer about Vista, but otherwise, I thought it was a great perspective.  To be clear, Ballmer didn't say Vista was a mistake; he said his mistake was the time spent on Longhorn before shifting focus to Vista. That time spent on features that never shipped led to the incompleteness of Vista when it shipped.  As we all know, SP1 fixed up a lot of those issues and made Vista a respectable OS.  Windows 7 just smoothed out the remaining rough edges and gave hardware vendors time to catch up with good drivers.
  • Ballmer also was in charge for Windows XP and Windows 7, the two most successful and popular versions (in fact the most successful desktop OSes in history).
    I think the speculation that he was booted out because of the Surface RT performance is clearly nonsense. A company like Microsoft is not so short-sighted. It's definitely Balmers fault that Microsoft were slow to mobile - people within the business wanted to do Windows Phone (or some kind of cosumer focused phone with music playback) back in ~2005/2006, but Ballmer went with the Zune instead.
    I like Ballmer, and all my favourite Microsoft products have been made on his watch. But I think 'new blood' will be good. Microsoft needs to transition to a consumer-based company, and Ballmer was better suited to the enterprise. Maybe a shake-up will get Microsoft moving more swiftly and prevent some of the rampant stupidity that sometimes marrs their products (e.g. the built-in Windows 8 apps...terrible, the lack of marketing and international availability of many products and services).
  • Really!
  • Well I think he shuld leave soon for more,innovative leaders to take upon the future of microsoft!!!
  • 12 months is a Big time, handover shouldn't take much time :P At this point of time, Microsoft needs to be fast and consistent. I'm sure with Elop being the CEO will be a Great step in Microsoft history, although, he was in Microsoft earlier :)
  • That change in capitalization is insanely bad. But then Vista happened at the same time so yeah...
  • Also .com bubble to post-recession...
    P/E in 2000 was 42.47. It's 13.24 now. At equivalent P/E, it would be $866bn. The issue isn't that Ballmer's been bad at growing the company, it's that the stock was massively overvalued when Gates left. Just like the dive in AAPL's stock price isn't about Cook, it's about the loss of the Jobs halo.
  • +1.1 billion!
  • What does it take to be the CEO
  • Big brassy ones!!!
  • In depth knowledge of the tech industry and vision. Vision is the hard part. A decision maker that moves income by 0.1% is inherently worth $22mn per year at MSFT. It doesn't take that much at the CEO position to make a 0.1% difference; miss an opportunity, make a great call targeting a specific market, etc.
  • In my opinion, he's done a great job, and this just opens up the door for someone else to come in and do something much more... Excited to see what comes out in the future from MS.
  • The 600 to 270 billion is a pointless number because we were in the dot com boom when he came in
  • Is there some cross promotion going on with AllThingsD? Why am I being made aware of and directed to read another sites' story?
  • He missed the boat on Cloud, Mobile and touch. In all MS had the lead, dropped/fumbled it, and is slowly playing catch up. He allowed the Vista disaster and sullied MS name, which was still being rejuvenated after Me.
    MS marketing is ineffective in creating a positive public perception of the Company and its non-business products. Another big failure that is holding it back. Sorry, Balmer has been a spectacular failure who wouldn't have been allowed to fumble damn near everything I'd he hadn't been Gate's close personal friend.
  • MS did not miss the cloud...
  • AWS was running for a few years before Azure arrived.  So they responded to the market but missed the start.
    In a way WP and RT is similar.  They responded late to the market.  Time will tell if it works out as well as the cloud.
  • Don't forget search! That's a few billion lost. And spending $8 billion on Skype.
    Yeah, this guy's a business genius. Just riding the wave of entrenched Windows users and doing nothing good with the money.
  • if Stephen Elop gets elected to be the next CEO of Microsoft.... WATCH OUT...  some awesome things coming to WP I can assure you that.... 
  • the fact that Nokia covers more than half of all the WP devices ever produced - plus the way they implement frequent updates on Nokia applications / software etc.. this should be a monumental shift of power going to Nokia.. it would be a major game changer.
  • Someone from Nokia? Perhaps just buy Nokia before someone snaps them up. Maybe merge into super saiyan LVL 6 Microkia?
  • lol "MicroKia".. good one.
  • Ballmer said as much in the interview with Mary Jo Foley, that he decided this just a few days before it was announced, and that's why the search for a replacement is a year (or, he said, could be shorter if they find someone quicker). Don't know why this is supposed to be some revelation now.
    ---- Q: You think this CEO search is going to take a year?   Ballmer: We've (with the board) have all been working together and the board wants to be able to look, and John (Thompson, the lead director on Microsoft's board) can talk about its needs, but a year is a nice long time. And if it winds up being less, but, you know, it just means that we can do things in a very planful and orderly fashion.   Q: When did you actually decide you were going to retire? Was this a sudden decision?   Ballmer: I would say for me, yeah, I've thought about it for a long time, but the timing became more clear to me over the course of the last few months.   You know, we worked hard. We worked hard on our strategy process, our org process. And frankly I had no time to think about it during all of that.... I would say my thinking has intensified really over the last couple, two, two and a half months, something like that.   Q: So when did you finally decide?   Ballmer: Officially, a day or two ago. We had a board call. When was that, two days ago? And it was really two days ago ... I would say that we really -- I finalized and we finalized that this was the right path forward.   Q: Did Chairman Bill Gates ask you to stay or go?   Ballmer: No. Bill -- I mean, no. Bill respects my decision. I mean, it's one of these things when if it's -- you know, ultimately these kinds of things have to be one's own personal decision. ----
    No need to needlessly speculate, he laid it out there pretty truthfully it seems.  
  • I don't know why we have this need to speculate on it. There's an official record, and we overanalyze it to death just makes us stupid.
    I both like and dislike Ballmer. I think he made mistakes and had lots of successes in spite of those mistakes and issues. I'm also glad he's going to pass the reigns on to someone else. It's time for Microsoft to kick ass again.
    I don't really care WHY he's leaving, only that he is and have questions about WHO is replacing him, because I want to know that a replacement candidate is capable of replacing him successfully.
  • Who ever comes or leave is not bothering me. What i am worried now is what impact this news will have on windows phone future releases as they were already delayed previously. If they are delayed furthr then it will impact the growth of windows phone and makes the things worse. What i expect is no one should over react and just concentrate on their work. We have many important schedules and releases to come. .
  • you picked up an AllThingsD(isgusting) article AGAIN, after trying to take some "high road" over the weekend for not reporting rumors.
    ....what a joke.
  • I'm sure a 1 billion write off didn't go down great.  That after a 6 billion for that search company.  Some ways sad to see such a character go... but perhaps new blood will bring good change.
    Still, Microsoft is doing well in many markets - just not the mobile/tablet.  Things are looking up, but iOS and Android have a massive headstart.
    or not... or not.
  • Whatever. Unlike HP, where the new CEO changed the direction of the company because the old one was driving it off a cliff, Microsoft can really stay the course for the most part.
    I still think Mike Hurd (assuming he keeps his pants on) or Jon Rubenstein would make good picks. But I know Microsoft is more than likely to go with an insider.
  • I certainly would not take that article with anything but a grain of salt. Ballmer has been with MSFT since dam near the beginning of the company. He and Big Bill have a very long and good relationship. How often do you see a CEO and their right-hand person doing this:
    Also, given how much stock Ballmer owns he very well may sit on the MSFT Board.
  • I love windows phone, but taking millions from the NSA in a highly illegal manner, and setting up your company for a class action lawsuit with potential major damages is not a winning move, I think Ballmer knows the jig is up. NSA Paid Microsoft & Others to Circumvent The Courts – This is Now Criminal, note Facebook, Google, and Yahoo are also mentioned, Apple is not, but I can't see how they didn't sell out.
  • And the original:
  • Tony Bates for CEO - Nokia still needs Steven Elop
  • Can someone get the message to the WP peoiple that:
      going from WP7/7.5 to WP8 was a disaster since a lot of apps did not transfer over to the new OS. get the app developers to develop apps for the WP OS-like Sirius/Survaillance cams/Nest to name a few. The people in charge either have to pay these folks to get the apps written.  As someone who is an MSFT evangelist I find it disheartening that iOS and Google Play are advertised on products but I can't get them on MY phone.
    I own countless laptops/Surface/WP's/Servers/WS's/MAC's/etc.  Let's get the WP OS on par with useability!