Bill Gates has stepped down as head of Microsoft, what’s next?.

July 9, 2008

The world’s most famous geek, Bill Gates has recently stepped down from his post as commander-in-chief of the world’s biggest software company – Microsoft.

The man who once claimed he wanted to put a computer on the desk of every home has decided to take a step back from the amazing expansion seen in the computing industry over the past 30 or so years.  He plans to devote more time to his family and to his charitable organisation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, while still remaining Chairman of the company and keeping some influence over special projects such as future versions of Windows.

Bill Gates originally started his career by creating the programming language BASIC with his old school friend, Paul Allen, for the Altair 8800, one of the world’s first “Personal Computers”.  Eventually he registered Microsoft as a trademark in 1976 out of this work and brought together a collection of computer hobbyists and enthusiasts to become his first employees.  By 1980, Gates and Microsoft agreed to produce an operating system for the PC being developed by IBM, otherwise known as MS-DOS.  What followed was a massive expansion in their employee base and turnover, which in turn produced the first version of Windows by 1985, Microsoft Office by 1989 and by 1995, Gates was declared the richest man in the world.  At present, Microsoft now employees over 90,000 workers.

Just what does Gates’ departure mean for the future of Microsoft?  Well you would probably be suprised to hear – not much.  Two people have taken over Bill Gates’ role – Ray Ozzie and Steve Ballmer, but in the large part no one will know the difference as Bill Gates will always be considered as ‘Mr Microsoft’ long into the future.  I suspect the work at management level and the key decisions that are made will remain much the same.

I think that the next big task for Microsoft is to really brush up on the quality control side of things.  It’s fair to say there have been a few shambles over the past few years in all branches of the companies products – from the faulty X-Boxes, to the completely unfinished Vista, to the shambles over Office 2007 document formats and backwards compatibility and the uproar over Outlook 2007’s email rendering it’s been a pretty fiery time for Microsoft recently.

It’s not all bad though as on the plus side it really does seem they are keeping on top of the ball in the future of touch screen technology, releasing Windows on next-gen phones and attempting to make multi-billion dollar takeovers of major rival companies.

What the future really holds for Microsoft, that remains to be seen.  One thing for sure is that there will always be Microsoft haters and hard-core devotees – that will never change.