Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

Microsoft announced that CEO Steve Ballmer will retire from the software company within 12 months, pending the installment of a successor. Its shares opened almost 9% higher following the news.

That investors saw hope in the departure of Microsoft’s CEO just underscores how embattled the company is these days, as it works to contain the damage from the perceived missteps of Windows 8, the missed opportunity of cloud computing and the basement market share for Windows Phone devices. There could be hints of that struggle in Ballmer’s prepared statement to the press.

‘There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time,’ Ballmer said. ‘We have embarked on a new strategy with a new organization and we have an amazing Senior Leadership Team. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our company’s transformation to a devices and services company. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction.’

Microsoft’s board of directors has selected a special committee to find the company’s next CEO. Ballmer will retire once his successor is named. It’s not clear if he’ll continue in another role within the company, as Bill Gates did when he initially stepped down from the CEO role.