Steve Ballmer is to retire as Microsoft’s CEO within the next 12 months, as the tech behemoth works to transform itself from a software provider to a devices and services company.
Ballmer, who is expected to retire when his successor is chosen, said he had been thinking about calling it a day in the midst of Microsoft changing its focus.
"We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction," Ballmer said.
"There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time. We have embarked on a new strategy with a new organisation and we have an amazing senior leadership team."
Microsoft’s board of directors has appointed a special committee to lead the search for Ballmer’s successor. The group is working with Heidrick & Struggles International Inc, an executive recruiting firm, and will consider both external and internal candidates.
John Thompson, chairman of the board, said the board members 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".