Steve Ballmer is out of the game. The Microsoft CEO announced today that he'll be stepping down in the next 12 months, which as you might have guessed, is kind of a big deal.
We all have different ideas of what this move could mean for Microsoft, and who should lead the company through the next era. So the TechRadar team have pulled together their thoughts in one convenient place for you to pore over.
Patrick - UK Editor in Chief
I think you'd be hard pushed to find someone in the tech world who felt that Steve Ballmer was the best man to make Microsoft great again, so his retirement represents a truly huge opportunity for the company. Microsoft is still jam-packed with talent and innovators, it's cash-rich and one of the most trusted brands in the world. It's unlikely that we'll see Gates making a return, but there's a desperate need for someone who will put innovation and excellence at the top of the priority list.
Who should replace Ballmer? Gabe Newell
Kate - News Editor (UK)
CEOs are a strange breed. They're bold and brash, and they live and breathe their brands, for which I admire and slightly hate them. I've got a bit of a soft spot for Ballmer though - he's got that weird, slightly squeaky voice which doesn't go with his face and I find that quite endearing.
He's been in charge for some okay stuff at the 'soft too - Windows Phone is quite good, giving devices a bash is pretty brave and I admire the company's ceaseless dedication to trying to get people to use Bing. But it's not quite there, is it? It's not quite cool, not quite exciting enough, not quite top of the tree. Ballmer was, let's face it, a bit old school. Microsoft needs someone a bit more now, I reckon. A bit more Bing.
Knee-jerk successor idea: will.i.am
John - Phones and Tablets Writer (UK)
So we'll be waving bye bye to big Steve Ballmer within the next 12 months and surely that can only be a good thing? The man had some big views, an energetic - and rather sweaty - stage presence and he wasn't afraid of taking a gamble, but Ballmer never really endeared himself to the world and his position of CEO has been questioned on numerous occasions.
He was, of course, dubbed the "world's worst CEO" last year - so the only way is up for Microsoft really. My prediction: This time next year we'll all have a Windows Phone and the Xbox One will be using Kinect to scan our bodies for medical conditions.
Who should replace Ballmer? Jonney Shih
James - Reviews Editor (UK)
I like Steve Ballmer, I think he's good. Yes, okay, Microsoft has been very hit and miss in the last few years but I'd rather see a massive, sweaty Ballmer rampaging around on stage than a regular suit. I can't see Microsoft hiring a young Zuck-a-like maverick CEO to replace him - Microsoft is all about slow and steady and that works just fine for a company which makes millions of Windows dollars every day without having to do anything interesting.
Who should replace Ballmer? Gareth Bale
Gareth - Phones and Tablets Editor (UK)
Ballmer managed to be both unpopular with certain fans and yet made Microsoft a more powerful and direct force in a number of directions. He's overseen a few…erm…missteps, but the likes of Windows 8, Windows Phone and Xbox all grew under his stewardship. Let's not mention RT though, eh? Maybe he was having a bad day when he green-lit that idea…
Who should replace Ballmer? Usher
Hugh - Staff Writer (UK)
There's one thing I'll definitely miss about Steve Ballmer – the pictures of his amazing facial expressions. But it's time for the Ballmer to roll on. Apple and Google are taking big bites out of the Windows monopoly, and while it hasn't been all bad under Steve – he's helped the company go through some big changes in his time without it collapsing – we need someone to make it feel not just new again, but relevant. I'm also sad because we're now several steps back from Ballmer's Bargains ever become a reality.
Who should replace Ballmer? The Winklevoss twins
Michelle - News Editor (US)
I, like Kate, have a soft spot for Ballmer, though he's not the right person to lead Microsoft into the next phase of its long life. When I saw him at Build 2013, there was something deflated about him, a distance that was ill-fitted for the CEO of a major corporation that was introducing a heralded refresh (Windows 8.1) to its already radically new OS (Windows 8).
Perhaps he'd already started checking out, and if that's the case, then it's high time Microsoft got an injection of fresh, bold, hopped-up on Red Bull blood. Techies I've spoken with suggest Julie Larson-Green is being groomed for the position, and while the One Microsoft will likely promote from within, there's a chance they could look beyond Redmond's walls.
Who should replace Ballmer? Elon Musk
Nick – Managing Editor (AU)
Ding, dong, the Ballmer's dead! Well, he's not dead exactly, but his career at Microsoft is. All I can say is that I'm surprised it took him this long to retire. While there have been a few successes under his management, who can forget the blusters and failings? In my mind, he hasn't really been the person for the job ever since his arrogant dismissal of the iPhone and the subsequent decision by Microsoft to name its refreshed Windows Mobile offering as "Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Series". Ergh.
More recently though, the flips and backflips of the Xbox One, coupled with the disaster of Windows RT have shown that Microsoft is truly lacking a focussed decision maker at the top. Here's hoping the change will help refloat Microsoft's sinking ship.
Who should replace Ballmer? Ben Affleck