Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced his retirement from Microsoft on Friday. The transition from the executive who oversaw the launch of Xbox and Xbox 360 will happen over the next year with the new CEO to lead the software company's transition to a devices and services focus.
Ballmer will continue his role as Microsoft's chief executive while the company's board of directors chooses his successor.
In an internal memo to employees, Ballmer said, "There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our transformation to a devices and services company focused on empowering customers in the activities they value most. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction."
"The board is committed to the effective transformation of Microsoft to a successful devices and services company," committee chairman John Thompson wrote in a separate statement. "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."
Microsoft underwent an organizational shakeup in July that saw the Xbox One and Xbox 360 put in a new Devices group along with Surface tablets plus Xbox Music and Xbox Video services. Then Xbox head Don Mattrick stepped down to take over the CEO role at Zynga with Julie Larson-Green coming in to lead the new group.
Sales of the Surface tablet which launched late in 2012 were highly disappointing for Microsoft as the company was forced to write off more than $900 million due to an over abundance of Surface RT inventory. The launch of Windows 8 has received mixed reviews as well and has not revitalized a PC industry that is being chipped away at by smartphones and tablets like Microsoft had hoped.
The introduction of the Xbox One was full of controversy too as gamers balked at the always online nature of the console combined with DRM and a required Kinect device. All of those policies have since been rolled back to bring it to parity with offerings from the PS4.
Ballmer, who has been CEO since 2000, unveiled the new company's strategy in July as "rallying behind a single strategy as one company -- not a collection of divisional strategies."
"Although we will deliver multiple devices and services to execute and monetize the strategy, the single core strategy will drive us to set shared goals for everything we do. We will see our product line holistically, not as a set of islands."
How Ballmer's strategy plays out and how it will affect the family of Xbox, Surface tablets and Windows Phone smartphones will have to continue without him.
You can follow Scott via Facebook, Twitter, RSS feed or email alerts for all the latest game news and deals as well as the weekly Furious Fourcast podcast/videocast. All game news on Examiner can be followed at the Game On Facebook page and Twitter feed.