Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer has announced his decision to retire as CEO within the next 12 months, upon the completion of a process to choose his successor.

Until that time Ballmer will continue as CEO, as Microsoft continues to transform into a devices and services company.

"There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time," Ballmer said. "We have embarked on a new strategy with a new organisation and we have an amazing Senior Leadership Team.

"My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our company's transformation to a devices and services company. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction."

A special committee to direct the process of finding Ballmer's successor has been set by by The Board of Directors, chaired by John Thompson, and includes Chairman of the Board Bill Gates, Chairman of the Audit Committee Chuck Noski and Chairman of the Compensation Committee Steve Luczo.

"As a member of the succession planning committee, I'll work closely with the other members of the board to identify a great new CEO," said Gates. "We're fortunate to have Steve in his role until the new CEO assumes these duties."

Source: Press release