Bill Gates to return as Microsoft's white knight?

Could and should Bill Gates return to day-to-day responsibilities at Microsoft? Fortune is reporting there's a rumor to that effect.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Fortune reported on December 8 that there's talk Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates might be mulling a comeback, largely to help boost Microsoft's stagnant stock price and employee morale.

I have to say I am very, very, very skeptical on this one.

First, it seems this is a single-sourced report. Fortune says: "One prominent chief executive told Fortune he'd heard from someone close to Gates that he might be considering such a move." There are no other sources cited in their story.

Gates has his hands full running the Gates Foundation right now. It's obvious he is thoroughly engaged in what he's doing. Gates denied, as recently as July 2011, that he planned to make a return to the company he started and from which he resigned his day-to-day duties back in 2008.

Sure, some current and former Softies long for the days when projects and technologies were allowed to percolate seemingly endlessly without having to become money makers. They preferred the Gates culture where geeks had more power than suits.

Gates supposedly still plays an active role as a part-timer at Microsoft. But returning as CEO and/or Chief Software Architect (a role vacated by Ray Ozzie earlier this year and subsequently abolished)? I just don't see it -- though I still do think Microsoft could use someone equipped to strategize across all of its business divisions and silos.

A couple of my Twitter chums chimed in with their opinions that Microsoft is more in need of new blood and fresh eyes than the return of its largest shareholder and chairman as CEO. I have to say I agree.

What's your take? Could and should Gates return as Microsoft's white knight?

(Thanks to News.com's Jay Greene for the pointer to the Fortune piece on Gates.)

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