Gates to leave day-to-day operations at Microsoft

Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates announced Thursday that he will transition from day-to-day responsibilities at the company he co-founded to concentrate on the charitable work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Gates will continue on as the company's chairman after transferring his duties over a two-year period.

"This was a hard decision for me," said Gates, who founded the world's largest software company with childhood friend Paul Allen. "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."

Microsoft's Chief Technical Officer Ray Ozzie will immediately assume Gate's title as chief software architect and begin working side by side with Gates on overseeing all software technical design, reports AP.

Mr. Gates, 50 years old, started Microsoft in 1975 with childhood friend Paul Allen. Mr. Gates served as chairman and CEO until 2000, when Mr. Ballmer took over as CEO. In 2000, with his wife, he formed the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, whose assets now are $29.1 billion, informs Raw Story.

"I want to spend more time on foundation efforts in the future," Gates explained. "After careful consideration, Steve and I have agreed to announce a two year transition plan...We have a great team of people and I believe we can make this transition."

Microsoft's Craig Mundie will become Chief Research and Strategy Officer, and will assume Gates' role with Microsoft Research. "Craig will also manage Microsoft's intellectual property and policy issues," Gates said.

"Obviously this decision was very hard for me to make....Even as I prepare to shift my focus in July 2008, I know Microsoft is well positioned for success in the years ahead." Gates said that he will "miss working for Steve every day as I have over the past 26 years."

"Bill may reduce his time here but his imprint on the company will never diminish," said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. "We will continue his tradition of thinking big and executing even bigger."

In the near term, Gates will be taking a 7 week vacation -- the longest he says he has been away from Microsoft -- in Africa and "enjoying the Seattle summer." Ballmer noted the vacation was earned long ago, and is unrelated to the career transition announcement, reports BetaNews.