Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer Hasn’t Survived the Second Windows Flop

Windows 8’s poor sales performance is one of the reasons why Ballmer retired

Steve Ballmer will soon leave from Microsoft in a surprising move that leaves the Redmond-based tech giant in the middle of a major restructuring process supposed to get it closer to devices and services.

While no clear reasons for this departure have been provided, AllThingsD is reporting that the company’s nine-member board has actually sped up the retirement process.

Ballmer has even hinted in the retirement letter he sent to Microsoft employees on Friday that his retirement wasn’t supposed to happen so soon.

“My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our transformation to a devices and services company focused on empowering customers in the activities they value most,” he explained.

Even though Bill Gates, a close friend of Ballmer, has always supported the CEO, sources from within the company revealed that the Microsoft co-founder has quickly agreed with the retirement decision.

“Did Gates instigate it? No,” an insider was quoted as saying by the aforementioned source. “But was he as supportive of Ballmer as he had been in the past? Maybe not.”

Ballmer hasn’t publicly admitted it, but it appears that the early retirement came under the pressure of ValueAct Capital, the newest investor that was trying to get a seat in the company’s board. The CEO initially said that he wanted to stay at Microsoft until at least 2017, but the decision to leave appeared almost overnight.

“He was definitely not leaving and then he suddenly was. Even if today’s Steve made the choice, it was a choice yesterday’s Steve did not want to,” a person familiar with the matter continued.

One of the reasons behind Ballmer’s departure appears to be the slow adoption of Windows 8, as Microsoft has invested big to make the operating system successful after the October 2012 launch.

Ballmer has already managed to survive one OS flop, the disappointing Windows Vista, but following the poor market response to Windows 8 has convinced the board that it’s time for the company to get a new CEO.

There are no confirmed details on who’s going to replace Ballmer at the helm of the company, but Microsoft revealed in a press statement that both external and internal candidates are under consideration.

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