Steve Ballmer announces his retirement as CEO of Microsoft, the following is an excerpt from an email sent employees today:

I am writing to let you know that I will retire as CEO of Microsoft within the next 12 months, after a successor is chosen. 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. You can read the press release on Microsoft News Center.

This is a time of important transformation for Microsoft. Our new Senior Leadership team is amazing. The strategy we have generated is first class. Our new organization, which is centered on functions and engineering areas, is right for the opportunities and challenges ahead...

While the obvious decline of the PC has some people worried about the future of Microsoft it is clear that a pattern of diversification and doubling down on business and enterprise ensure that the future is very bright. This strategy is in part due to the expert leadership of Steve Ballmer, at last count Microsoft has 15 billion dollar businesses (and a few more in incubation):

  • Windows
  • Windows Azure
  • Windows Server
  • Xbox
  • Office
  • SQL Server
  • Client-access license (CAL) suites
  • Enterprise Services (including consulting)
  • Enterprise communication business (Exchange plus Lync)
  • System Center
  • SharePoint
  • Visual Studio
  • Dynamics (CRM and ERP)
  • Online Advertising
  • Office 365

So who takes over? Just a year ago everyone would have assumed Steven Sinofsky, however, it seemed he made too many enemies. Based purely on the list of senior leaders my best guess would be between Julie Larson-Green or maybe B. Kevin Turner.