Microsoft co-founder and former CEO Bill Gates has officially stepped down from the board of directors of the software giant.

Microsoft announced the decision on Friday 13 March, when it said the co-founder and technology advisor was stepping down to “dedicate more time to his philanthropic priorities including global health, development, education, and his increasing engagement in tackling climate change.”

Last November Gates had claimed that Microsoft as a company, got distracted from building a dominant mobile operating system, because of the antitrust probe from the US Justice Department in the late 90s and early 2000s. He said it was just a three month period that saw Windows Mobile (the predecessor to Windows Phone) miss out of being the dominant mobile OS, and not Android.

Board member

Bill Gates was the CEO of Microsoft from 1975 to 2008, when he stepped down (but he remained as chairman of the board and chief software architect until February 2014).

Microsoft said that despite Gates stepping down from the board, he will continue to serve as Technology Advisor to CEO Satya Nadella and other leaders in the company.

“It’s been a tremendous honour and privilege to have worked with and learned from Bill over the years,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. “Bill founded our company with a belief in the democratizing force of software and a passion to solve society’s most pressing challenges. And Microsoft and the world are better for it.”

“The board has benefited from Bill’s leadership and vision,” said Nadella. “And Microsoft will continue to benefit from Bill’s ongoing technical passion and advice to drive our products and services forward.”

“I am grateful for Bill’s friendship and look forward to continuing to work alongside him to realise our mission to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more,” said Nadella.

The current chairman of the Microsoft board, John W. Thompson, also expressed “my deep appreciation to Bill for all his contributions to Microsoft.”

Force for good

Bill Gates is one of the world’s richest men, but he is using his fortune to do a lot of good in the world.

Indeed, his fortune has allowed Gates to fully engage with a strong philanthropic drive, and he often makes largest donations to charity.

In June 2017 Gates donated 64 million Microsoft shares, worth $4.6 billion (£3.6bn), to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which Gates set up in 2000 with $5 billion funding to tackle global healthcare and poverty.

Gates’ friend and fellow billionaire Warren Buffett had in 2010 created the Giving Pledge in an effort to encourage other billionaires to give at least half of their wealth to charity.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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