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Ballmer bids tearful farewell to Microsoft, promises it will 'deliver the next big thing'

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Steve Ballmer
Steve Ballmer

Microsoft's Steve Ballmer bid farewell to employees today at his final company meeting as CEO. After announcing his intentions to retire within the next 12 months, Ballmer's speech today was clearly an emotional moment for him personally. According to sources familiar with the meeting, Ballmer told employees "we will deliver the next big thing... we will change the world again." During his hourlong speech, Ballmer discussed the Nokia deal and him passing over the CEO role to a new leader.

Ballmer left in tears throughout his speech

At one point during the meeting, Ballmer chose to play the song he used back at his first company meeting in 1983: Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin.'" He then proceeded to jump and dance around the stage screaming at the top of his voice "the sound of Microsoft!" After the song ended, an emotional Ballmer paused to "enjoy this for a minute," with tears visibly streaming down his face. "You work for the greatest company in the world, soak it in."

Ballmer also thanked the thousands of Microsoft employees who had queued to see his final speech. "I want to say thank you…this isn't about any one person. It's about a company that's important, that's forward thinking, that's innovative." Ballmer ended his emotional speech with Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes' "I've had The Time of My Life" playing in the background before he screamed "I've had the time of my life" and continued to dance and run around the stage. Microsoft employees in the audience shook hands with Ballmer and screamed "we love you" as they cheered and clapped throughout his final speech.

Although Ballmer is still in charge of Microsoft as CEO, the company is currently searching for a future leader to take on a new devices and services strategy. Ballmer is expected to step down as soon as a suitable replacement is found, with current speculation centering around Ford's Alan Mulally and former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop.

Update: The Verge has obtained exclusive video of Ballmer's final company meeting.

Read more: Exclusive video: Steve Ballmer's intense, tearful goodbye to Microsoft