Microsoft’s annual meeting of shareholders in Bellevue this morning opened with a surprise — Bill Gates, Microsoft’s chairman, who has been largely silent at these meetings in recent years, took the stage at the outset to address the shareholders on topics including Microsoft’s future prospects and its CEO search.

“We’re pleased with the progress,” Gates said of the hunt for a new CEO. “In fact, we met last night and talked a lot about where we are.”

Gates called it a “complex global business” that the new CEO will lead, as the person takes Microsoft through a period of transition and faces competitive challenges while trying to leverage its positions of strength. He said the person has to be comfortable working with Microsoft’s technical teams, as well.

“We’re looking at a number of candidates, and I’m not going to give a timeline today, but we’re pleased with our progress and feel that by going through the process we’ll get the best person for the job.”

He spoke about Steve Ballmer’s tenure in the role, and the challenges of the Microsoft CEO’s position. He paused and started to choke up for just a moment, before he concluded. He said of Ballmer and himself, “We share a commitment that Microsoft will succeed as a company that makes the world a better place.”

Follow-upIn final shareholder speech, Ballmer defends Bing and Xbox as key parts of Microsoft

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  • Bob

    As Carl Icahn said yesterday, one of the board’s main roles is to keep the CEO accountable. MS’s board, dominated by Gates, didn’t do that until very recently and only then because they were being forced to by outside investors. It’s a little late for Gates to now pretend he’s focused on the company. He effectively ignored it for a decade as its competitive position was systematically undermined by the CEO he personally selected and kept in power despite calls for removal dating back more than half a decade. Ballmer deserves a tremendous amount of blame for what has transpired, but ultimately the board and particularly Gates deserve even more. They were in charge, not Ballmer.

    • SilverSee

      It’s all so simple from the armchair…

  • fteoOpty64

    “We share a commitment that Microsoft will succeed as a company that makes the world a better place.”

    This is not the answer to the question. It means neither Balmer nor himself can handle the running of MS as it is today. Alan is the person they needed!. All other candidates will see too many problems and have no clear direction. Alan will steer the ship in the right direction and then progress from there. Almost the same instance when Sculley took over Apple. Need a fresh start with a totally fresh CEO. Same when Barksdale took over Netscape during their period of growth!.

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