MS transformation falls to Ballmer
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MS transformation falls to Ballmer

"I've really been running the company for six and a half years so I don't really anticipate any change internally," CEO, Microsoft.

india Updated: Jun 16, 2006 12:20 IST

As Microsoft Corp Chairman Bill Gates prepares to step back from the company he founded, the task of finding new sources of growth for the world's largest software company falls to Chief Executive Steve Ballmer.

In the face of competition from aggressive Internet rivals and a series of important new product launches, Ballmer said on Thursday he is firmly in control of Microsoft and plans to remain in charge for a "very long time."

"The company's got a big and very broad mission. I am excited about that mission. I think we'll surprise people with how successful we are going to be," Ballmer, 50, said in an interview with Reuters at Microsoft's headquarters.

"There was a time when we did surprise people," he said.

Investor concerns about Microsoft's strategy and ability to fend off challenges from rivals such as Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc. continue to plague the company's stock price, which has underperformed every major U.S. equity index since 2002.

Microsoft said on Thursday Gates will step back from a day-to-day role at the software giant starting July 2008 and promoted a number of executives to assume some of his responsibilities. Gates said he plans to remain the company's chairman indefinitely.

The company's software services guru, Ray Ozzie, will immediately assume Gates' title of chief software architect, while Craig Mundie takes on a new role as chief research and strategy officer, handling some of Gates' tasks.

However, Ballmer emphasized there will be no power struggle after Gates takes a reduced role at Microsoft.

"I've really been running the company for six and a half years so I don't really anticipate any change internally," Ballmer said. "People understand that the kinds of things that I am deep in are different from the kinds of things Bill is deep in."

Gates, who was also at the interview, interjected: "The authority is still the same."

Thinking back to the company's modest beginnings, Gates said he never imagined that Microsoft would grow to be a software company employing 63,000 people in more than 100 countries with sales of more than $40 billion.

"It's interesting that we had such a good vision of the importance of software ... and yet we thought we'd have this modest-sized company," said Gates, 50.

"When we had 100 people, we thought when we have 200 people we can write all the software the world will need."

First Published: Jun 16, 2006 11:54 IST