Microsoft founder Bill Gates has announced he is stepping down from his role at the company to devote more of his attention to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

He plans to work full-time until June 2008, and then step down to a part-time role as chairman and advisor in July.

Analysts are viewing the early announcement as a move to stave off serious rumblings in the stock market, a strategy that seems to have worked so far as the company's stock value has not really taken a hit.

Chief Technical Office Ray Ozzie will take the title of Chief Software Architect and begin working more closely with Gates, while Chief Technical Office Craig Mundie is taking the role of Chief Research and Strategy Officer.

Some analysts say that Microsoft would be lost without him as a strategist who combines business acumen with technological know-how.

The Foundation to which Gates is to devote even more of his time has about $30billion in its fund, and has given out over $10billion in grants in twelve years.

The transition could mean that future generations will remember him more for his philanthropy than for his technological innovations.