Leaving so soon?

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer stunned the market on Friday by announcing that he'll be stepping down within the next 12 months, leaving a new CEO to navigate the tech giant's likely awkward transition from being a software juggernaut to one that specializes in devices and services.

The stock opened nearly 9% higher on the news, so that tells you what the market thought about the job that Ballmer did, but it's hard to argue that a new CEO will fare any better. Microsoft will continue to be challenged in a world that's gradually becoming operating system-agnostic, and that makes being a premium software company an unpopular thing.

Briefly in the news
And now let's take a quick look at some of the other stories that shaped our week.

  • Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) surprised the market in a good way by posting a profitability increase while analysts were bracing for a sizable drop. Yes, Best Buy's comps remain negative, but CEO Hubert Joly has been able to cut costs without sacrificing brand perception.
  • Pandora (NYSE:P) is starting to lose radio market share, so it's rolling back the cap that used to limit free ad-based accounts to 40 hours a month. Bending over backwards to court people who use the service for free doesn't seem like a very bright idea.
  • VMware (NYSE:VMW) got an analyst boost, as Jefferies & Co. bumped the virtualization software speedster from "hold" to "buy." The company's new price target is $105. VMware hasn't disappointed Wall Street, beating profit targets consistently over the past year.
  • Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) checked in with the best safety rating that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has ever dished out. That's another feather in the cap for electric cars, but Tesla really has managed to transcend the niche by achieving cult status for its Model S sedan.