”This was a hard decision for me,” Gates added. “I’m very lucky to have two passions that I feel are so important and so challenging. As I prepare for this change, I firmly believe the road ahead for Microsoft is as bright as ever.”
Gates job must be a lot more complicated than it would seem on paper, as they've planned out a 2-year transition period for others to assimilate his duties. Will this impact Microsoft in the long run? Probably not, and it does seem that Ballmer has already been spearheading many of Microsoft's endeavors. You can read the full press release at Microsof't site.