Ballmer sets a new (and potentially much later) retirement date

Based on remarks from Microsoft's company meeting yesterday, CEO Steve Ballmer may be sticking around a lot longer than many are thinking, or, in some cases, hoping

Last time CEO Steve Ballmer offered a tentative timeframe as to when he might retire from Microsoft, he put the date at ten years or so from now (around the time his youngest goes to college).

But now there's a new date. And Ballmer may be sticking around a lot longer than many are thinking, or, in some cases, hoping.

According to scuttlebutt from Microsoft's annual employee meeting, which was held in Seattle on September 18, Ballmer told attendees that he is going to stay on at Microsoft until Microsoft's search share exceeds Google's. Ballmer's retirement reference is in the comments section of a new blog post on the company meeting by Mini-Microsoft.

(I verified with someone in the know that Ballmer did, indeed, say this when discussing the company's search strategy during Thursday's Safeco field festivities.)

Whether Ballmer was kidding around or not, ComScore numbers from this week show that Live Search and Yahoo are continuing to lose share to Google. In August, Google's U.S. search share rose 1.1 percent over the previous month's. Yahoo's dropped .9 percent to 20.5 percent and Microsoft's dropped .6 percent, to 8.9 percent.

Unless Microsoft can somehow reverse this trend, Ballmer may be around a long, long time....

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