REDMOND, Wash. -- Steve Ballmer, the Microsoft executive widely seen as the future successor to chairman Bill Gates, today was named president of the giant software company.
The appointment gives Ballmer, a long-time friend of Gates who had headed Microsoft's sales and marketing, day-to-day management responsibilities for the company.
The move appears to solidify Ballmer's future at Microsoft at a time when the company faces unprecedented challenges from government regulators. He will handle more government issues, including the Justice Department's investigation of Microsoft's business practices.
Ballmer, known for his fierce competitiveness, loyalty and intelligence, is the man Gates often has turned to for carrying out the company's aggressive marketing tactics that have come under mounting criticism.
Microsoft has been without a president since Jon Shirley resigned in 1990 after seven years in the position. Since Shirley's departure, those duties have been performed by an executive committee.
Gates will continue as chairman and chief executive officer and will concentrate on the long-term future of the company and new product development.
Microsoft shares were up $1.06 1/4 a share at $118.06 1/4 in midday trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market.