Two big announcements should be coming out of Microsoft over the next couple weeks: we expect to learn of the ultimate conclusion to its acquisition of Nokia’s smartphone wing, and we’re hoping to learn who might be the company’s next CEO. We’ve heard that we could expect the CEO news early this year, and sources are claiming that the decision’s already made, now just waiting to go official. Just who will take over Steve Ballmer’s duties remains to be seen, but whichever candidate gets the board’s nod, they might have a familiar face looking over their shoulder, with word that Bill Gates will be increasingly involved in Microsoft operations as this new boss takes the helm.
While early on there were rumors that Gates himself might return to the role of CEO, that idea quickly fell by the wayside. But even if Gates isn’t formally in charge, sources are now saying that he’s going to start being a lot more active in the company following the new CEO reveal, not to mention just a more visible face around Microsoft.
In one light, that sounds promising, and could help ease the company through any awkward transition period, but it also threatens to undermine the new CEO’s authority; if Gates and the new boss aren’t on the same page about everything, who’s going to get more traction with the employees, the new guy or Mr. Microsoft himself? Still, all threats of toes being stepped on aside, we’re cautiously optimistic about these rumors of the (limited) return of Bill Gates to an operational role.
Update: Gates insists that he’s not returning.