Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will retire in the next 12 months, the company has announced.
The computing firm said that Ballmer will officially retire once a replacement has been found.
He will continue in his role as CEO in the meantime and will be leading Microsoft’s transition to a company focused on devices and services.
“There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time,” said Ballmer.
“We have embarked on a new strategy with a new organization and we have an amazing senior leadership team. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our company’s transformation to a devices and services company. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction.”
The board of directors has appointed a special committee that includes chairman of the board Bill Gates, Chuck Noski and independent director John Thompson to search for Ballmer's successor.
“As a member of the succession planning committee, I’ll work closely with the other members of the board to identify a great new CEO,” said Gates.
“We’re fortunate to have Steve in his role until the new CEO assumes these duties.”
The announcement of Ballmer's imminent departure comes shortly after Microsoft announced a major company-wide restructuring of its operations.
Following Xbox boss Don Mattrick's exit, Windows chief Julie Larson-Green was appointed to head up the firn's hardware and studios engineering group, responsible for studios experiences including games, music, video and 'other entertainment'.
As part of the move, MS also put an end to its entertainment and devices division, putting a focus on 'functions', areas such as engineering, marketing, finance and research.
Other movers at the company include Terry Myerson, who now leads the operating systems engineering group, Qi Lu who heads up applications and services and the appointment of Tami Reller as marketing head. Kevin Turner meanwhile is COO and Kevin Bates is in charge of business development.