Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer unveiled his plan to transform the software maker into a devices and services company during his shareholder letter last year, but this year's final address is more about reflection, execution, and a future with a new Microsoft CEO. Ballmer is planning to retire from Microsoft within the next 12 months, and he says he's writing his last shareholder letter "as the CEO of the company I love." That love was demonstrated clearly recently when he bid a tearful farewell to Microsoft during his final company meeting speech.

Ballmer's final shareholder letter notes that Microsoft is still in the "early days" of its transformation into a promise of a family of devices and services. After launching Windows 8, a familiar UI across PCs, tablets, Xbox, and phones, Ballmer says he's proud of what the company has accomplished over the previous year. Moving forwards, Ballmer sees "high-value activities" as the target for Microsoft, things like communicating with family members or meetings with colleagues over multiple locations. "Microsoft will enable these types of high-value activities with a family of devices — from both Microsoft and our partners — as well as with our services," explains Ballmer.

Nokia deal is the 'signature' event for Microsoft's transformation

The promise is essentially the same "One Microsoft" approach that Ballmer outlined earlier this year. Microsoft is in the middle of a giant reorg, and the company will soon have to integrate Nokia's Devices and Services business into the mix. "This is a signature event in our transformation and will bring together the best mobile device work of Microsoft and Nokia," explains Ballmer. There are still questions over how Microsoft plans to deal with the Nokia transition, and the company has remained quiet ever since its announcement last month.

"As I think about what’s ahead, I’m incredibly optimistic about what Microsoft will deliver," says Ballmer, noting new Windows 8.1 devices, Surface 2, Xbox One, future Windows Phones, and enterprise services. Ballmer ends his note by looking to the future in a similar way he promised Microsoft will "deliver the next big thing" during his final company meeting speech. "Working at Microsoft has been a thrilling experience — we’ve changed the world and delivered record-setting success — and I know our best days are still ahead."