Gates, many believe, dominates the board, which is largely composed of executives from non-tech industries. His status as co-founder also carries serious weight on the board. That dominance has been criticized recently, too; analysts and pundits have argued that Gates, who drove the development of Microsoft's biggest OS flog so far, 2007's Vista, made plenty of other mistakes in his 30 years.
But the investors' demands have little chance. "In truth, the only way that this happens is if the downsides for Gates and Ballmer are higher than the upsides," Gold added. "And how that happens is only if there's a stockholders' revolt, led by these investors."
Gold thought that unlikely in the short term. But stranger things have happened.
"If you eliminate the existing chair and limit the influence of Ballmer on the selection process, you're more likely to get someone that can take Microsoft in a needed new direction, which would be the best outcome," said Gold.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+, or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. See more articles by Gregg Keizer.
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