Microsoft has announced that Steve Ballmer will retire as CEO within the next 12 months. The company issued the statement this morning, adding that Ballmer will remain in post through its “transformation to a devices and services company that empowers people for the activities they value most.” Ballmer says: “There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time. We have embarked on a new strategy with a new organization and we have an amazing Senior Leadership Team. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our company’s transformation to a devices and services company. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction.” Ballmer joined Microsoft back in 1980, serving as the company’s thirtieth employee – he was actually the first business manager hired by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who Ballmer succeeded as CEO in 2000.