Nicholas Petreley writes: "One of the best things to happen for Microsoft customers worldwide is the retirement of Bill Gates. Criticize me if you will, and I'm sure the following opinions will be the source of much consternation among my peers and among open-source advocates, but I believe Steve Ballmer will be a positive influence overall for Microsoft and its customers. How much of a positive influence is open to debate, especially since Gates still has a great deal of influence. It's not a slam dunk; any executive decision Ballmer makes could still get vetoed by Gates. But Ballmer is in too comfortable a position to act only a puppet. It's not like Ballmer needs his job, so some of his own ideas are bound to poke through the Microsoft legacy business model."