This morning Microsoft has made an announcement suggesting CEO Steve Ballmer will be stepping down within the next 12 months. Saying that there's "never a perfect time for this type of transition", Ballmer made clear that this was his intention all along, and that the company needs "a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction." This "new direction" he speaks of refers to the company "transforming" into a devices and services company rather than strictly a software company, this change-over being made with devices like the Microsoft Surface tablets and the variety of services included with Windows 8.
It's not immediately clear when Ballmer will be trading off with a new CEO over the next 12 months, but it has been affirmed that he will stay on as CEO until such a transfer can be made. Microsoft will continue through the "next steps of its transformation to a devices and services company that empowers people for the activities they value most" while the Board of Directors works with a special committee to direct the process of picking a new Chief Executive Officer.
This special committee includes Chairman of the Board Bill Gates, Chairman of the Compensation Committee Steve Luczo, Chairman of the Audit Committee Chuck Noski, and is chaired be none other than John Thompson, the board's lead independent director. This committee will also be working with a "leading executive recruiting firm" by the name of Heidrick & Struggles International Inc.
"The board is committed to the effective transformation of Microsoft to a successful devices and services company. As this work continues, we are focused on selecting a new CEO to work with the company's senior leadership team to chart the company's course and execute on it in a highly competitive industry." - John Thompson
This committee has suggested that they'll be considering both internal and external candidates.
"There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time. 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." - Steve Ballmer
Ballmer has appeared as a high-powered speaker and face of Microsoft since being named CEO in January of 2000. He's been with Microsoft since June 11th, 1980 (the 20th employee of the company, in fact) and will likely stay on with the company in some capacity after this change-over.