Ballmer bids farewell as Microsoft prepares for change
Retiring Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer took to the stage with an emotional speech last week, as the company continues its search for his successor.
The 57-year-old, who announced the decision to step down last month, broke down in tears and danced to Michael Jackson's Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' in front of 13,000 employees in Seattle.
He told onlookers: "We will deliver the next big thing, we will change the world again. You work for the greatest company in the world, soak it in."
Mr Ballmer, who replaced Bill Gates as CEO in 2000, will continue in his role until the Microsoft board installs his replacement.
Reaction to the news was largely positive, as shares jumped 22 per cent in the wake of the announcement. While Ballmer oversaw successful projects such as the Xbox 360 and Windows XP, critics lay the blame at his door for a number of missed opportunities during his tenure.
Microsoft missed chances to compete strongly with both the iPod and iPad, with the company still to make any money on its Surface tablets. Meanwhile, it rejected the chance to buy Overture, whose patents were eventually taken up by Google and incorporated successfully into AdWords.
Crucially, Microsoft has slipped from the world's most valuable company to nearly half its peak market value.
Analysts suggest outsider could be Microsoft's best bet
Naturally, there has been a lot of speculation as to who might be brought in to replace Ballmer. Gates appears to have ruled out a return to the hot seat, but other Microsoft people linked to the post include Cloud and Servers chief Satya Nadella and Bing search team leader Qi Lu.
However, many have suggested that the best way to revive Microsoft's fortunes would be to bring in someone from outside the company to put a fresh perspective on things.
Daniel Nolan, managing director at theEword, said: "Of course it will be very interesting to see who Microsoft appoint to replace Steve Ballmer, and whoever it is will need to revive their fortunes. However, Ballmer clearly loves the company, so it was nice to see him receive a decent send-off from staff."