Microsoft chairman and co-founder Bill Gates has announced that he will begin to phase out his day-to-day responsibilities at the company, in order to concentrate on the charitable work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Microsoft's chief technical officer Ray Ozzie will immediately assume Gate's title as chief software architect and begin working alongside Gates on overseeing all software technical design. Chief technical officer Craig Mundie will take the new title of chief research and strategy officer and will also partner with general counsel Brad Smith to oversee Microsoft's intellectual property and technology policy efforts.
Gates will continue on as the company's chairman, after transferring his duties over a two-year period. The effects of his departure on the Xbox division are likely to be minimal, as Gates has never been seen to have any very direct input on the interactive entertainment side of the company's business.
He also had a more limited profile during the launch of the Xbox 360, compared to the original Xbox, although he did make his first personal appearance at the Xbox pre-E3 media briefing this year, to introduce the Live Anywhere service.
"This was a hard decision for me," said Gates. "I'm very lucky to have two passions that I feel are so important and so challenging. As I prepare for this change, I firmly believe the road ahead for Microsoft is as bright as ever."
Following some disquiet within the business world given the delays of Windows Vista and falling stock prices, the market appeared to react equivocally to the news, with shares up marginally during trading yesterday, and down slightly $21.88 in pre-market trading today.