REDMOND, WASHINGTON - Microsoft co-founder/chairman Bill Gates is to progressively move from his daily role at the company to spend more time on global health and education work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

There will be a two-year transitional period to ensure a smooth transfer of his daily responsibilities. Chief technical officer Ray Ozzie will immediately assume the title of chief software architect and begin working with Gates on all technical and product oversight responsibilities.

Although by July 2008 Gates will have shed his day-to-day duties at Microsoft, he will continue to serve as the company's chairman and as an adviser on key development projects.

Declares the guru: "This was a hard decision for me. 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."