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Microsoft eyes new course

  

AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

SAN FRANCISCO: Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer announced on Friday he would retire within 12 months, opening a new chapter for a company struggling to keep pace with the fast-changing tech sector.

Microsoft shares leapt as much as nine per cent in pre-market trade and closed up 7.3 per cent at $34.76, after surprise announcement sparked a rally in stock.

Ballmer took over as CEO in 2000 from co-founder Bill Gates, a classmate and friend from their days at Harvard University in the 1970s. When Ballmer took over, Microsoft was the undisputed tech sector leader, and the world’s largest company in market value. But in recent years it has struggled as consumers began to move from desktop and laptop PCs to mobile devices. While its Windows software is used on the vast majority of personal computers, Microsoft has had little impact in the fast-growing segments of tablets and smartphones.

Ballmer, 57, will continue in the interim as CEO and will lead Microsoft through the next steps of its transformation to a devices and services company.

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