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Microsoft has just announced this morning its current CEO will retire as CEO of the company within the next 12 months. Steve Ballmer joined Microsoft in 1980 and took over the position of CEO at the company while Bill Gates remained as chairman in January 2000.

According to a letter Ballmer sent to employees about his plans to retire, he says: “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. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction.”

Meanwhile, Bill Gates said the following: “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. We’re fortunate to have Steve in his role until the new CEO assumes these duties.”

Now the search begins for Microsoft’s new CEO.

[Sources]: Microsoft: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to retire within 12 months []; Microsoft: Ballmer – Moving Forward [].

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