As CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer bid farewell to fellow shareholders on Monday in his final 2013 Fiscal Year annual report. He pointed out that, while the company took its first big bold step forward in a transformation into a devices and services company, it did so while also growing revenue to $77.8 billion, up 6 percent. Shareholders saw a 15 percent increase through dividends and stock repurchases, a return of $12.3 billion, he said.
"We are still in the early days of our transformation, yet we made strong progress in the past year launching devices and services that people love and businesses need," he said. "We brought Windows 8 to the world; we brought consistent user experiences to PCs, tablets, phones and Xbox; and we made important advancements to Windows Server, Windows Azure, Microsoft Dynamics and Office 365. We are proud of what we accomplished this year and continue to be passionate about delivering better devices and services more quickly."
He outlined the company's "bold steps" made over the past year including the launch of Microsoft's transformation, the upcoming purchase of Nokia's Devices and Services business, and the company's new segment-reporting framework to provide insight into Microsoft's progress in the key transformations. Looking ahead, he's "incredibly" optimistic about what the company is gearing up to deliver including the new Windows 8.1 update next week.
"We are accelerating as we bring to market Windows 8.1 PCs and tablets with our partners, Surface 2, Xbox One and new phones; advance our enterprise services including Windows Server, Windows Azure, Microsoft Dynamics and Office 365; and innovate on new high-value activities," he said.
Next spring, Microsoft is reportedly releasing the largest update to the Windows Phone 8 platform since its launch last year. The company is also expected to release the Surface Mini in that time frame, the Surface 2 4G LTE model, a big update to Windows RT and Modern UI apps for Office 2013. There have also been reports of a new storefront arriving in the spring merging Windows Phone and Windows 8.
"With the decisions we've made this year, the strategy we've put in place, the organization we've designed, the world-class talent we have, and the devices and services we are creating, we are well-positioned to deliver growth and world-changing technology long into the future," he added.
"Working at Microsoft has been a thrilling experience — we've changed the world and delivered record-setting success — and I know our best days are still ahead," Ballmer concluded. "Thank you for your support."
Even though Ballmer will step down as CEO by next August, he will still own nearly 4 percent of Microsoft. Currently, it's unknown if he will remain on the board once he's no longer filling the CEO seat.
To read the full letter, head here.