As the software market continues to experience a major upheaval, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has decided to move on from the company. From Read Write Web:

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.

Microsoft’s board of directors have started the process of naming a new CEO. At ZDNet, Mary Jo Foley lists the execs she sees at lead contenders, including some picks from outside the company.