The announcement by Steve Ballmer that he will retire from his post as Chief Executive Officer for Microsoft, within the next year, has created a huge response. For some people, Ballmer represents all that is wrong with Microsoft. Others prefer to remember what he has achieved, rather than the perceived mistakes.

No matter what anyone thinks they know about Ballmer, one thing is certain; the IT industry will be losing one of its most colorful characters. In this commentary article we take a look at his career, successes, missed opportunities, who might succeed him and what the future might hold for Microsoft and its customers.