Bill Gates will retire this year, he told the audience during his keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last night.
He has opened the popular show 10 times, but told delegates he won't be around next year as he plans to devote more of his time to philanthropy, making Microsoft a part-time job.
This year will be the first time since he was 17 years old, he says, that he hasn't had a full-time job with Microsoft.
Gates also used the platform to reveal his vision for the next decade of computing, saying that connectivity, user interfaces and high-definition video would drive the consumer market.
He believes the keyboard and mouse interface will soon disappear, as users interact with their PCs using hand gestures.
Building on Microsoft table computer, unveiled last year, Gates says more computers will be built into furniture and will be much easier to use.
He also believes that software is becoming more important than ever in the move to consumer electronics, with all media and entertainment set to be driven by software.
Pervasive computing is not a new theme, but one Gates says is imminent, with computers soon to be found everywhere – not just one users' desks – while the 3D virtual environment will also become a reality.
He took the opportunity to demonstrate an early prototype of "visual recognition", which will be available on mobile phones and which will let users simply point their handset at an object to have it identified, with relevant information about it being displayed.