- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 15, 2006

REDMOND, Wash. (AP) — Bill Gates plans to withdraw from day-to-day duties at Microsoft Corp. so he can focus on his charitable foundation while others run the company he co-founded and guided to industry dominance.

Mr. Gates, 50, said yesterday he will remain the company’s chairman after transferring his daily responsibilities over a two-year period.

“This was a hard decision for me,” said Mr. Gates, who founded the world’s largest software company with childhood friend Paul Allen. “I’m very lucky to have two passions that I feel are so important and so challenging. As I prepare for this change, I firmly believe the road ahead for Microsoft is as bright as ever.

“I’m not leaving Microsoft,” he said.

Mr. Gates also said he had no plans to give up the distinction of being the company’s largest shareholder.

“I’m proud of that,” he said.

Microsoft’s Chief Technical Officer Ray Ozzie will immediately assume Mr. Gate’s title as chief software architect and begin working with Mr. Gates on overseeing all software technical design.

Craig Mundie, chief technical officer for advanced strategies and policy, will immediately take the new title of chief research and strategy officer and will work with Mr. Gates in those areas. Mr. Mundie also will partner with general counsel Brad Smith to guide Microsoft’s intellectual property and technology policy efforts.

Mr. Gates is ranked by Forbes magazine as the world’s richest man, with an estimated worth of $50 billion. That great wealth, he said, also brings great responsibility, and he repeated his often-spoken desire to give away the bulk of his fortune to charity.

Mr. Gates said he didn’t realize when he started the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000 what potential there was for addressing some of the world’s greatest problems, such as global health and education. The foundation is now the world’s largest philanthropy, with assets totaling $29.1 billion.

“Just as Microsoft has taken off in ways I never expected, so has the work of the foundation,” he said.

Mr. Gates and Mr. Allen started Microsoft in 1975. They took Microsoft public in 1986, and Mr. Gates was the company’s chairman and chief executive officer until 2000, when he assumed the role of chief software architect and Steve Ballmer took over the role of chief executive officer. Mr. Ballmer will remain responsible for all day-to-day operations and the company’s business strategy.

The world “has had a tendency to focus a disproportionate amount of attention on me,” Mr. Gates said, when in reality, Microsoft is a company with an extraordinary depth and breadth of talent.

“Bill and I are confident we’ve got a great team that can step up to fill his shoes and drive Microsoft innovation forward without missing a beat,” Mr. Ballmer said.

For the past six years, Mr. Gates has focused on Microsoft’s software development as the company’s chairman and chief software architect.

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