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Multiple reports this afternoon quote influential and controversial hedge fund manager David Einhorn, a longtime Microsoft shareholder, saying that it’s time for CEO Steve Ballmer to step aside and give someone else an opportunity to lead the company.

Einhorn, speaking at an investment conference in New York, said that Ballmer’s “continued presence is the biggest overhang on Microsoft’s stock,” according to a Reuters report. He called the Microsoft CEO “stuck in the past,” adds the New York Times, which offered this summary of Einhorn’s concluding remarks …

Mr. Einhorn concluded his speech by recalling his time as a student at Cornell University, playing a game of football. He said other students suggested that because of his height, he should play quarterback. But it quickly became clear he should stop, he said, and he appreciated the way the older students broke it to him.

They told him he’d had a chance, they had seen what he could do, and it was time to give someone else a try, he said.

He suggested the board of Microsoft offer the same directive to Mr. Ballmer.

Microsoft’s board, led by Ballmer’s longtime friend Bill Gates as chairman, hasn’t proven receptive to such suggestions in the past, to say the least. And Einhorn’s statements, at the Ira Sohn Conference, may further be undercut by a new study of fund managers’ 2010 recommendations at the conference that found him to be “the biggest loser by far,” according to one report.

The statement comes a day after Microsoft unveiled a plans for the next version of Windows Phone, due out this fall, its latest attempt to regain traction in the pivotal mobile market.

No comment from Microsoft.

UPDATE: Microsoft board backs Ballmer after hedge fund manager calls for CEO’s resignation

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