REDMOND - The following is an edited transcript of memos sent by Microsoft CEO Bill Gates and president Steve Ballmer to staff worldwide and obtained by ARN.
Gates: In the past 18 months, Steve and I have made many changes at Microsoft, with the goal of building on this great company's strengths far into the future.
These changes began with Steve becoming president in July 1998 and taking over the day-to-day running of the company, and continued last year when we announced our reinvention and new vision: to empower people through great software - any time, any place and on any device.
To best execute on our strategy in a very competitive environment, Steve and I decided that now is the time to intensely focus our resources and talents on this challenge. So I have made the decision to create a new role for myself - chairman and chief software architect - that will let me spend 100 per cent of my time working on our product breakthroughs.
Steve Ballmer - my long-term partner in building this great company, and a great business leader - will become Chief Executive Officer. This is a natural evolution of our unique partnership.
Going forward, I'll be a member of the core team that will enable Microsoft to create even more opportunities for our partners, pioneer great new technologies for our customers, and build an even more incredible company for our employees and shareholders.
I've been the CEO of Microsoft for 25 years. In the technology business, as well as in other industries, that's quite unusual. I've enjoyed the mix of business, technical and other challenges that were part of that job. During the past two years I have talked with the Board about changing how I spend my time, and we're fortunate to have Steve to step into the CEO role.
Our industry is in the early stages of a revolution, one that offers incredible opportunities for everyone. I think of the next decade as the `Software Decade'. The magic of software will change the way business is done, the way people communicate and even the way they are entertained. At the same time the nature of software itself is changing. I am sending a separate piece of mail to talk about all the opportunities.
I'm as optimistic about this great company as I've always been - we have terrific people, a management team that is stronger than ever, a vast array of incredible technologies and limitless opportunities. So if some of you are wondering if today's announcement means I'll spend less time at Microsoft, that couldn't be further from the truth.
I'm committed to giving us the technological leadership to succeed in the digital age, and to partnering with Steve to ensure that we remain America's most successful company long into the 21st century.
Ballmer: This announcement is driven by a huge opportunity that Bill and I see to capitalise on something that no other company is capable of doing today: building the first Internet-based platform of Next Generation Windows Services (NGWS), which will power new products and services and include a new user interface, natural language capabilities, developer tools and resources, schema and a new file system. The goal of NGWS is to create a revolutionary new Internet User Experience - one in which software and technology closely connect people, businesses, devices, and information.
Bill will continue to serve as Microsoft's chairman, but he will devote 100 per cent of his time and energy to the NGWS vision and effort.
Eighteen months ago, when Bill appointed me president of Microsoft, I assumed responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the company. The main reason we made that change was to enable Bill to focus more on the technology vision that is so crucial to Microsoft's ability to stay competitive in an increasingly competitive industry. Today's announcement is a natural progression of that organisational direction.
At a time when fundamental research is disappearing at universities and companies around the world, Bill has led Microsoft in the opposite direction - establishing a world-class research group with more than 600 of the smartest people in the world; people who are thinking about everything from the basic architecture of computing, to speech recognition, to stuff nearly in the realm of science fiction.
Gates: Microsoft was founded on the belief that software would be a key element in transforming the world. Although we have come a long way down this path, the coming decade is when the magic of software will change the way business is done, the way people communicate and even the way they are entertained.
Microsoft will lead the way in developing the platform and some of the key services. And we will evangelise the opportunities to literally thousands of customers and partners. Make no mistake, the opportunities for third parties are incredible.
Like our commitment to the GUI, our commitment to making the Internet user experience a reality will consist of creating a revolutionary platform, the Next Generation Windows Services (NGWS) platform, as well as a set of key services for our customers that build on that platform. Only by succeeding in both of these tasks will we create the virtuous cycle necessary for both us and our partners to succeed.