06:53 AM

Leaving Microsoft: First Robert Scoble then Bill Gates...what's going on!?

Bill Gates' gradual departure from Microsoft over the next two years comes at a time when the company is facing its largest challenges. It is way behind Google and other companies in transitioning to the online era, and it faces large problems with staff morale.

Scoble_Flies_Off.jpgJust a few days ago, Robert Scoble, a hugely important and popular Microsoft evangelist left the company. And it has lost other key people. This makes it doubly hard for it to recruit its next generation of leaders.

Mr Gates' departure might be a way to bow out before the company's problems come home to roost. A company of MSFT's size has plenty of business to carry it through the next few years. And it can remain very profitable if it cuts its losing business groups. But its long term future is anything but bright, as Mr Gates claimed at the press conference today: "The road ahead for Microsoft is as bright as ever."

Microsoft must make some very hard decisions and reinvent itself as a company. The power of the founder to make such changes within an organization can be very significant.

Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer, returned to the company when it was facing huge challenges and he managed to remake the company he co-founded. Bill Gates could also bring that type of capability to Microsoft during a time of huge challenges.

Clearly, Mr Gates is no Steve Jobs.

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From Cnet: Gates stepping down from full-time Microsoft role

Bill Gates announced that over the next two years he will gradually step away from his daily responsibilities, handing the reins to CTOs Ray Ozzie and Craig Mundie.

Bottom line:

Analysts are speculating on how critical the loss of Microsoft's chief architect will be as it fights to stay competitive in the changing software-industry landscape.