Bill Gates Stepping Down in 2008Microsoft has just announced plans for a July 2008 transition for Bill Gates, Chairman and Chief Software Architect. Effective July 2008 Gates will "transition out of a day-to-day role in the company to spend more time on his global health and education work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation." According to MS, a two-year transition process has been implemented to ensure that there is a smooth and orderly transfer of Gates daily responsibilities. Although Gates may not be as active with the company on a daily basis after July 2008 he will, however, continue to serve as the companys chairman and an advisor on key development projects. Taking over for Gates will be Chief Technical Officer Ray Ozzie, who will immediately assume the title of chief software architect and begin working side by side with Gates on all technical architecture and product oversight responsibilities. Furthermore, Chief Technical Officer Craig Mundie will immediately take the new title of chief research and strategy officer and will also work closely with Gates to assume his responsibility for the companys research and incubation efforts, Microsoft said. Mundie will partner with general counsel Brad Smith to guide Microsofts intellectual property and technology policy efforts as well. Microsoft said that Ozzie and Mundie will continue to report to Gates, but that at "an appropriate time" during the transition period, they will shift to reporting to Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer. "Our business and technical leadership has never been stronger, and Microsoft is well-positioned for success in the years ahead. I feel very fortunate to have such great technical leaders like Ray and Craig at the company," commented Gates, who founded Microsoft in 1975 with childhood friend Paul Allen. "I remain fully committed and full time at Microsoft through June 2008 and will be working side by side with Ray and Craig to ensure that a smooth transition occurs." He continued, "This was a hard decision for me. Im very lucky to have two passions that I feel are so important and so challenging. As I prepare for this change, I firmly believe the road ahead for Microsoft is as bright as ever." Added Steve Ballmer, "Bill and I are confident weve got a great team that can step up to fill his shoes and drive Microsoft innovation forward without missing a beat. We will continue to hire the worlds best technical talent and give them the tools to do their best work, and we will continue to tackle the biggest challenges and opportunities for our customers by investing for the long term." Although todays announcement may come as a surprise to many, Ballmer and Gates pointed out that the company "has been steadily expanding its senior leadership in recent years, and that todays announcement continues a transition process that has been underway for several years."