Friday, June 27, 2008

Microsoft's founder and head Bill Gates steps down

The founder and head of Microsoft, the world's largest software company Bill Gates steps down on Friday.

One of the richest men in the world, Gates will now work full time for his charitable organization The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The 52-year-old will continue to be chairman though, but will only retain a nominal role in the software empire.

He is still is the biggest shareholder of the company and his 8.7 per cent stake in Microsoft is worth about 23 billion dollars.

Gates authored the personal computer revolution three decades ago when he founded Microsoft along with his friend Paul Allen.

It is almost unthinkable that any one human could pick up where BillGates leaves off when he ends his full-time tenure Friday as Microsoft's leader.

But as Gates bones up on epidemiology at his charitable foundation, the software company he built with a mix of visionary manifestos and extreme hands-on management must still wake up Monday to face hard problems even he could not solve. Among them: beating Google Inc. on the Web while fending off its attacks on desktop computing.

When Microsoft Corp. announced in 2006 that Gates planned to go part-time as board chairman, so he could spend more time on his global health charity, it named two senior executives to guide the company's overall technical direction.

Gates' recent remarks, however, indicate Microsoft is looking to a much larger group of employees for big-picture guidance and long-term planning. But it's not yet clear whether the company can replicate his thinking with more traditional corporate processes or whether it should even be trying.

From Microsoft's start in 1975, Gates has been the company's genius programmer, its technology guru, its primary decision maker and its ruthless and competitive leader.

He would famously disappear into the solitude of a country cabin to digest employee-written papers and ponder the future of the industry, then emerge with manifestos, including the 1995 ''Internet Tidal Wave'' memo, that could shift the focus of the entire company.

He is credited by analysts and academics for the emergence of software as a moneymaking industry; previously it had been a pastime for hobbyists or a subset of the hardware sector. He is revered by many engineers, despite his propensity to fling expletives at underlings whose ideas he scorned. And he has built Microsoft into a hugely successful monopoly that has only grown stronger despite major losses in antitrust trials in the US and Europe. More on IBN News ;-)

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