Microsoft announces that Bill Gates is relinquishing his day-to-day duties in July 2008, and will work with Ray Ozzie and Craig Mundie over the next two years to hand over the reigns of sofware power. It sounds like big news, but this transition has been going on for months. After seeing Gates recently at the "D" conference, I got the feeling that he was dialed back, his intensity less fearsome and his reliance on Ozzie, in particular, and others to carry the big burden of fighting the global software battle with Google, the open source world, Sony, etc. was clear.
What was funny is this quote in the Microsoft press release announcing the transition. Apparently PR people think they need a Harvard Ph.D. (and Microsoft board member) to validate the move, calling it "very sensible."
“This is a very sensible and thorough approach. A two-year transition will ensure that the company has a smooth transfer of strategy and knowledge from Bill to the next generation of leaders,” said James I. Cash, Ph.D., member of the Microsoft board of directors and former James E. Robison Professor, Harvard Business School. “Steve and his management team are very impressive, and I’m confident the company will not miss a step.”
Men of Microsoft: Bill Gates, Craig Mundie, Ray Ozzie, Steve Ballmer
I don't think this move will do much to salve Wall Street's concerns about Microsoft's stock, although the Professor Cash said Steve and team are "very impressive." Despite his dialing back, Gates can still dunk when he needs to. And, it is sensible, given he has already dialed back, from my impression, and will continue as Chairman past 2008. He can certainly do a lot more for the world as a philanthropist than as a chief software architect who lately has spent a lot of time talking up the company and defending its honor.