billgatesReuters is making waves tonight with a report that three of Microsoft’s top investors want Bill Gates to step down as chairman — saying that he “effectively blocks the adoption of new strategies and would limit the power of a new chief executive to make substantial changes.”

Microsoft isn’t commenting on the report. The news service cites anonymous sources and doesn’t name the three investors. There’s no indication that Gates would actually step down. But just the existence of this report illustrates how much has changed at Microsoft in recent months.

The story, by reporters Nadia Damouni and Bill Rigby, says the investors want Gates to step down as chairman, specifically. But presuming he would remain a “regular” board member in this scenario, Bill Gates would still be Bill Gates. It’s hard to imagine the Microsoft co-founder and largest individual shareholder not maintaining his significant influence in any board position he might hold.

Despite all the change at Microsoft lately, the changes haven’t created the clean slate that some shareholders might want.

For example, even though Steve Ballmer is stepping down as CEO within 12 months, the company’s executives have said that they’re pushing forward with the massive “One Microsoft” reorganization that Ballmer has put in place to support the company’s new devices and services strategy.

In other words, the assumption is that the new CEO will be working within the framework that Ballmer and his existing executive team have created. That’s one of the issues that frustrates shareholders who want Ballmer’s replacement to be able to take a completely fresh look at the company.

Bottom line, it’s a stretch to think that Gates will step down anytime soon. Then again, everyone would have said that about Ballmer a couple months ago, as well.

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  • Ron Spins

    Bill Gates is not the problem !

    Fix Win 8

    • Guest

      the problems started long before Win8.

  • Guest

    Awesome! Nice to see accountability for MS’s “lost decade” finally being delivered to those most responsible. It’s just a shame it had to be done by investors and only after MS’s fall from dominance. But better late than never, I guess. This would also appear to confirm what many already suspected, myself included, namely that Ballmer was forced out. Having succeeded with that, these investors are now focusing on the logical next step: removing or sidelining Gates so he can’t continue to be an impediment to the kinds of substantive changes required.

  • Guest

    Makes a lot of sense. By the way, now that Mulally has formally indicated he’s not going to Redmond, are you guys going to update your previous ATD-sourced article? Or do they get another free pass on publishing false and misleading stories attributed to suspect “sources with knowledge of the situation”?

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