I am not a Microsoft shareholder but I think shareholders should welcome the announcement that he will retire in 2008 from daily operations.
Microsoft stock is down 61% from its 1999 high and it has been dead money for years. If Gates has confidence in Ray Ozzie, he could become the next CEO. Whether he can break up and rejuvenate the rather moribund IT conglomerate which is Microsoft, I don't know.
But I do know that Gates's oversight of the company has not helped shareholders much in this millennium. The one concern shareholders should have is that Gates may accelerate the rate at which he sells his Microsoft shares as he phases out of the company.
Moreover, unless his sidekick Steve Ballmer gets a vote of confidence from the board, he too could be gone. And with two major shareholders seeking to diversify their holdings, smaller shareholders could suffer.
There is a tinge of sadness that comes with the knowledge that the world's richest man -- and a fairly popular punching bag within the industry -- won't be running the company he created.
But his recent record for stockholders has not been great. So the future for Microsoft shareholders could be superb if the right leader takes over.