June 15, 2006

Bill Gates Says He Will Reduce Role at Microsoft

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp. said on Thursday that chairman Bill Gates will stop taking a day-to-day role in the software giant he founded in order to do more work with his charitable foundation.

Gates said that by July 2008 he will work full-time for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation he started to promote health and education projects around the world.

"Obviously, this decision was a very hard one for me to make," Gates told a news conference. "The change we're seeing today is not a retirement, it's a reordering of my priorities."

Ray Ozzie, one of Microsoft's chief technical officers, will immediately replace Gates as chief software architect, while Craig Mundie, another chief technical officer, will take the new title of chief research and strategy officer, Gates said.

Microsoft's Windows operating system runs an estimated 90 percent of the world's personal computers.

Shares in Microsoft rose 0.9 percent to close at $22.07 on the Nasdaq. The stock was virtually unchanged in extended trading after the news was announced.