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Gates Giving Up His Management Role At Microsoft By 2008

Bill Gates, 50, the world's richest man, said today that he will step down as Microsoft's chief software architect, handing over that role to Ray Ozzie, currently Microsoft chief technical officer.

The two will work side by side at Microsoft over the next two years. Then in July 2008, Gates will relinquish his day-to-day responsibilities to put more effort into the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Steve Ballmer will remain as CEO, a post he has held for six years. And Gates said he will remain as chairman.

"I am not leaving Microsoft. I remain chairman and will spend meaningful time here. Over the next two years, I will be working as hard as I ever have," Gates said. But at the same time, he added, it was necessary to signal clearly to the world that his days as a hands-on manager were numbered.

"With great wealth comes great responsibility. Many years ago I made it clear that almost all my wealth would be returned to society," Gates said in an afternoon press conference in Redmond, Wash.

During the press conference, Gates pointed to a "common thread" between the world of computer technology that ignited his passion as a young man and the research into health and education in developing countries that will soon take up an ever greater chunk of his time. "It's about using technology not just for the privileged few, but for everyone," said Gates. "Just as Microsoft took off in ways I never expected, so has the foundation."

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