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Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer to retire within a year

Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer has announced he'd step down as the company's CEO within the next 12 months. He spoke of a deep restructuring of the firm that needed longer-term supervision and management.

Steve Ballmer said the company was looking for a successor at the helm of the US tech giant.

"There's never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time," Ballmer said in a statement Friday explaining his decision to leave within a year.

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

Mixed outlook

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Microsoft's problems with Windows 8 sales

In June of this year, Microsoft presented an earnings report which reflected the company's difficulties in adapting to a technology market ruled by mobile devices and smartphones. Financial Officer Amy Hood had to announce an almost $900 million (674 million euro) writedown on the value of unsold Surface tablets.

She admitted that it would take a long time for Microsoft's position in tablets to make up for the shrinking PC market. With more than 80 percent of the firm's revenues coming from Windows-related business, the steady decline of the PC sector has had some analysts predicting a gloomy future for the company.

But Microsoft still has $77 billion in cash reserves, and an imminent update to Windows 8 is expected to address many of the concerns that hampered uptake of the firm's latest operating system.

hg/dr (AFP, dpa)

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