Bates, a native of England, has a proven track record as both a technologist and business leader controlling a multibillion dollar budget. Currently, he leads Microsoft's business development, strategy, and evangelism -- which involves the important job of keeping the company's many partners happy. Prior, he served as chief executive of Skype, the online calling service, and as a top executive at Cisco Systems (Fortune 500). His experience with both consumer and enterprise products would be an attractive combination. ,
Investors cheered news that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will retire, but there is no obvious successor in line.