26th August 2013 Microsoft Investors buoyed by Ballmer exit

Steve Ballmer's self-esteem must have taken a blow on Friday when shares in Microsoft (MSFT) surged on news he will step down as CEO in the next year.

Ballmer's decade at the helm of Microsoft has seen the company's share price almost halve as it failed to compete against Google's (GOOG) search engine and a resurgent Apple's (AAPL) dominance of the smart phone and devices market. Investors approved strongly of his announcement on Friday that he would step down as soon as a successor was found sometime in the next year, pushing up shares by 7% to $34.75.

The committee drawn up to find Ballmer's replacement, which includes Bill Gates, will have to decide if they want someone to push on with reforms to turn Microsoft into a services and devices company or keep it firmly grounded around its Windows operating system as well as business software such as Office. Ballmer's vision of creating devices to compete with those of Apple produced many costly failures with the X-box series being a rare success. Through Bing the company has lost almost $1 billion a year for the last 3 years trying to compete with Google who also dominate the smartphone operating systems market, an area Microsoft had early access to.