Bill Gates has provided a firm delivery date for the next version of the Microsoft company.
The date is July 2008 and the deliverable will be Bill stepping out of the day-to-day operations of the company he co-founded.
He intends to shift his more active attentions to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is engaged in worldwide health and education issues.
Gates stepping back from the daily activities of Microsoft isnt a huge surprise. He had taken on the role of chief software architect after handing the CEO title to Steve Ballmer.
His activities outside of Microsoft, which range from the foundation activities to bridge tournaments, seemed to be taking an increasing amount of his time, which was probably the way he intended.
Ballmer has been under pressure to get the companys stock price out of a long-term rut and get the companys major product rollouts, including the Vista operating system, back on track.
The increasing role of Ray Ozzie was apparent in the Microsoft announcement regarding Gates reduced role at Microsoft. Ozzie, the architect of Lotus Notes and the most visible force in Microsofts role of transitioning its software to "Live" online, hosted versions of its products, is assuming a even greater voice at Microsoft.
The Microsoft press release states: "The company announced that Chief Technical Officer Ray Ozzie will immediately assume the title of chief software architect and begin working side by side with Gates on all technical architecture and product oversight responsibilities, to ensure a smooth transition.
"Similarly, Chief Technical Officer Craig Mundie will immediately take the new title of chief research and strategy officer and will work closely with Gates to assume his responsibility for the companys research and incubation efforts; Mundie also will partner with general counsel Brad Smith to guide Microsofts intellectual property and technology policy efforts."