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Steve Ballmer Will Retire From Microsoft In 2014 (MSFT)

Steve Ballmer Will Retire From Microsoft In 2014 MSFT

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer will retire in the next 12 months.

The announcement, which was made just 30 minutes before the market open Friday morning, came more than a year after Ballmer reportedly told his colleagues when he planned to retire. At the time, no one knew when he would leave Microsoft.

In 2008, Ballmer indicated that he would step down within 10 years. Many believed that the chief executive would not retire before 2017 or 2018 after he stated that he would stay until his youngest kid was in college.

"There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time," said Ballmer, as quoted in a company release. "We have embarked on a new strategy with a new organization and we have an amazing Senior Leadership Team. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our company's transformation to a devices and services company. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction."

Related: Steve Ballmer Says that Microsoft is "Rallying Behind a Single Strategy as One Company"

Ballmer's exact retirement date has not yet been set. He will remain as CEO while a special committee (appointed by the Board of Directors) searches for an appropriate successor.

"The board is committed to the effective transformation of Microsoft to a successful devices and services company," said committee chair John Thompson, who was also quoted in the company release. "As this work continues, we are focused on selecting a new CEO to work with the company's senior leadership team to chart the company's course and execute on it in a highly competitive industry."

Under Ballmer's leadership, Microsoft sold more than 100 million Windows 8 licenses.

The company unveiled its third video game console, Xbox One, earlier this year. Though it was initially plagued by a number of restrictions and requirements that led to a plethora of complaints, Microsoft ultimately reversed its policies and tweaked the console's power.

Xbox One quickly rebounded, and is poised to eclipse the plummeting sales of Nintendo's (OTC: NTDOY) Wii U after it is released in November.

Sony's (NYSE: SNE) PlayStation 4 may still lead the industry, however. This week Sony announced that it has already taken more than one million pre-orders.

Year-to-date, Microsoft is up more than 17 percent. The stock is currently up more than seven percent.

Disclosure: At the time of this writing, Louis Bedigian had no position in the equities mentioned in this report.

Louis Bedigian is the Senior Tech Analyst and Features Writer of Benzinga. You can reach him at 248-636-1322 or louis(at)benzingapro(dot)com. Follow him @LouisBedigianBZ


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