Bill Gates, the oft lauded, oft loathed mastermind behind Microsoft has said he is ready to step down from full-time work at his company in order to devote himself to another brainchild: the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, according to MSNBC Monday. Gates founded Microsoft and ruled the company 'with an iron fist' for 33 years. Once the richest man in the world, he is now the third wealthiest due mostly to his work with the philanthropic foundation he began with his own capital in


Bill, his wife and Warren Buffett have dedicated the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to the reduction of global poverty as well as to the improvement in available healthcare.

It has an endowment of $34.6 billion, $1.5 billion of which it donates each year.

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Before he committed himself to charity, however, Gates made his name elsewhere. His story is now well known: he dropped out of Harvard in 1975 and started Microsoft with his friend Paul Allen.

The young entrepreneur saw the potential of personal computing and of becoming a software merchant. For years, his operating system has dominated desktops and personal computers, and Gates' involvement in the quotidian aspects of his company is famous.

Perhaps because of the latter aspect of his reign, it is surprising that he has decided to leave the day-to-day operations of Microsoft.

Nevertheless, his reach and that of his company are long, and he is worth an estimated $58 billion. Admiration for the man has, MSNBC writes, been tempered by jealousy and/or resentment for what rivals have deemed his monopolization of the operating systems market.

Whatever his past actions with Microsoft have been, Gates, his wife and his fortune will now stay focused on philanthropy.