REDMOND, Wash., Jan. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Accelerating the company's major strategy initiative, Microsoft Corp. today announced that its co-founder, Bill Gates, has created a new role for himself -- Chairman and Chief Software Architect -- so that he can dedicate all of his time to helping drive the next generation Windows Internet platform and services. Microsoft announced that Steve Ballmer becomes president and CEO, and takes over management of the company. These changes were announced following the release of Microsoft(R) Windows(R) 2000, which the company said is a crucial building block of its strategy to focus on software services - a major technology shift that will transform the industry in the way the Graphical User Interface (GUI) and the Internet did. Driving this major shift is the need for a better Internet User Experience to enable businesses, consumers and developers to better personalize and tailor the services they use, and to store and share the information they need - any time, any place and on any device. At the core of this strategy are Microsoft's plans, announced today, to assemble the first Internet-based platform of Next Generation Windows Services (NGWS), which will power new products and services and incorporate such features and capabilities as a new user interface, natural language processing, application development approach, schema and new file system - all of which have been in development. As part of this platform, Microsoft said that a key set of NGWS will be hosted on the Internet and will be infused into future versions of Windows. The NGWS platform will create a host of new opportunities for other businesses, and is the foundation of the company's software services strategy, first articulated in September of last year at Microsoft's developer strategy day and described in further detail during Bill Gates' November 1999 Comdex speech. "It is a great pleasure for me to announce that Steve Ballmer -- my long-term partner in building Microsoft and a great business leader -- is being named CEO," said Gates. "These are dramatic times in our industry. As we look ahead to what it will take to do an amazing job executing against our new strategic direction of building next-generation services for our customers, we recognize that we must refocus and reallocate our resources and talents against our key priorities and challenges." "I'm returning to what I love most -- focusing on technologies for the future. This was a personal decision, one I have discussed with Steve and our board of directors for some time. Although I've been able to spend more time on our technical strategy since naming Steve as president in July 1998, I felt that the opportunities for Microsoft were incredible, yet our structure wasn't optimal to really take advantage of them to the degree that we should. Steve's promotion will allow me to dedicate myself full-time to my passion -- building great software and strategizing on the future, and nurturing and collaborating with the core team helping Steve run the company." Gates also indicated that Ballmer would become a member of the Microsoft Corp. Board of Directors effective January 27. "I am very excited and very honored," said Ballmer. "These are amazing times full of remarkable opportunities. Microsoft has all of the right stuff -- great people and great technology -- to dramatically take action on a new strategy that builds on the company's heritage of applying software know-how to the new world of software services -- a world we will pioneer along with our partners. "Software is the key to the future. It will drive and accelerate innovations in hardware, wireless, broadband, e-commerce and other fields. Our vision is to create a new services platform that will ignite new opportunities for literally thousands of partners and customers around the world," Ballmer said. Setting Priorities: Microsoft Next Generation Windows Services (NGWS) Ballmer today outlined his core priorities and announced plans for a major strategy day this Spring, when the company will outline details of the Internet User Experience vision and strategy. "With the release of Windows 2000 and Office 2000 and the impending release of Exchange 2000, SQL 2000 and other tools, we are focusing on helping customers take advantage of the enormous benefits and richness of this generation of products, while fully galvanizing our technical teams around building the new platform and services." said Ballmer. Ballmer said Bill Gates and Microsoft's four technical group vice presidents, including Paul Maritz, Jim Allchin, Bob Muglia, and Rick Belluzzo, will drive developing the technologies and user scenarios that are key to the success of the Internet User Experience and Next Generation Windows Services. About Microsoft Founded in 1975, Microsoft is the worldwide leader in software for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software -- any time, any place and on any device.
SOURCE Microsoft Corp.