Microsoft has issued a press release stating that its CEO, Steve Ballmer, will retire "within the next 12 months", remaining in his position until a suitable successor is found. The precise reasons for Ballmer's departure were not given, though he was quoted as saying: The stock market reacted positively to the news, with Microsoft's share price opening 8% higher than the previous day's closing. (Image courtesy of Mashable)Ballmer joined Microsoft in June 1980 and became the company's 35th employee, having been a business manager recruited by Bill Gates, the former chief executive and chairman of the company. Ballmer was named CEO in January 2000, and throughout his tenure was responsible for some key changes in Microsoft as a company, including the shift towards cloud computing, key business acquisitions such as that of Skype in May 2011 and the release of Microsoft's first consumer tablet device, the Surface, back in June 2012. However, Ballmer's tenure has not been without criticism. Microsoft's share price has remained fairly stagnant under his leadership and the disappointing sales of the Surface have further sprinkled salt into the wound. He was also criticized concerning his remarks about Apple at a press conference back in 2009, where he described the company's products as, "$500 more to get a logo". Microsoft's Board of Directors has appointed a special committee to direct the process of replacing Ballmer as CEO. The committee, which includes Bill Gates as one of its members, will be working with an executive recruiting firm, Heidrick & Struggles, to find a replacement. The press release also stated that Microsoft, "will consider both external and internal candidates", although no official job announcement has been made as of yet. Article Link: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to Retire 'Within 12 Months'