Extremus writes: "One prominent chief executive told Fortune he'd heard from someone close to Gates that he might be considering such a move. Aside from an unexpected and bold final act for Gates, what could Microsoft (MSFT) gain from such a move? The company's stock price has been a thorn in Ballmer's side for a decade. At the end of 1999, Microsoft's best year for market price, shares were at almost $60. When Ballmer took over as chief executive in January 2000, the stock was still over $50. With the burst of the tech bubble, Microsoft's stock dropped steeply and hovered around $25 area through much of the decade, excepting a short rally above $35 in late-2007 and a dip under $20 during the 2008 financial crisis. Ballmer dumped much of his stock during the decade and Bill Gates gradually left daily operations. (Gates' last full day was in June 2008.) During that time, the stock stayed flat as competitors such as Oracle (ORCL) and Apple (AAPL) saw huge gains in their share price."