SEATTLE (CBS Seattle) – Three of Microsoft’s top investors are telling the board it’s time for Bill Gates to step down as chairman of the company, according to Reuters.

Sources tell Reuters the three investors, who collectively hold more than 5 percent of Microsoft stock, worry that Gates’ wields too much power on the board. And that his outsized presence would cast a shadow over Microsoft’s search for a new CEO.

Steve Ballmer has announced he will retire as chief executive next summer. He had been under pressure for years to improve the company’s performance.

Ballmer was focused on making devices, such as the Surface tablet and XBox gaming console and he wanted to turn key software into services provided over the Internet.

Some investors feel a new chief should not be bound by that strategy, the sources say.

The three investors worry that as long as Gates stays on the board, any new CEO would feel pressure not to pursue different business models.

They also see his charity work as a distraction that prevents him from focusing on the software giant he co-founded 38 years ago.

Gates lowered his profile at Microsoft after he handed the CEO role to Ballmer in 2000. He gave up day-to-day work in 2008 to focus on the $38 billion Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

While Microsoft is still one of the world’s most valuable technology companies its core Windows operating systems and Office software suite are under pressure from the declining us personal computers as consumers turn increasingly to smart phones and tablets.

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