Microsoft announced that company founder Bill Gates is resuming his former role as CEO effective immediately. The fate of his successor and now predecessor Steve Ballmer remains unclear; for the time being, he will be on "a temporary leave of absence," according to a statement from Microsoft.
"I intend to pick up where I left off when I stepped down as CEO in 2000," said Gates at a press conference at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Wash. "We have the talent and expertise here at Microsoft to be the top software company in the world, not just on PCs and servers but on smartphones and on tablets and in the cloud."
Gates said that Ballmer has done a "commendable job" as CEO in recent years during a time when the economy has struggled and the software industry has undergone tremendous change. "Windows 7 has been a huge success, and [Steve Ballmer] deserves a lot of the credit for that," said Gates.
"The foundation will continue doing its vital work under [Foundation CEO Jeff Raikes] and Melinda," Gates said. "I'm not at all concerned about the leadership we have in place there."
The stock market reacted favorably to the announcement, with Microsoft shares jumping 8 percent in early trading.