Will Gates' departure be followed by Ballmer's?

After Bill Gates, who announced his decision yesterday to step slowly down from his main duties at Microsoft, current CEO Steve Ballmer may be next in line for departure. In a short article, CNN Money explains why Ballmer might leave and looks at who could succeed him at the helm of Microsoft's operations. Ballmer's six-year reign has so far seen the company flourish, but he has also been blamed for a series of blunders and a shrinking stock price, the article says. According to an analyst who's followed Microsoft closely for a couple of decades, Ballmer is likely to step down as CEO in just "two to five years," shortly after Gates' departure in 2008.

The CNN writer believes current COO and recent Wal-Mart carry-over Kevin Turner has the biggest chance to assume the CEO role. His small amount of experience at Microsoft may secure the place for Platform and Services Division Co-President Kevin Johnson, however, whose career has been more similar to Ballmer's.

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