The change is the latest acknowledgement of the role Nadella has played in revitalizing the tech giant. During his seven-year tenure as CEO, Microsoft has witnessed sharp growth in its Azure cloud computing, productivity and gaming divisions. Nadella has also overseen several successful acquisitions including Minecraft, LinkedIn, GitHub and, more recently, gaming behemoth ZeniMax.
Today, Microsoft is the world's second-most valuable company behind Apple with a market value above $1.9 trillion.
“In this role, Nadella will lead the work to set the agenda for the board, leveraging his deep understanding of the business to elevate the right strategic opportunities and identify key risks and mitigation approaches for the board’s review,” Microsoft said in its announcement.
As part of the shuffle, former chair John W. Thompson will return to his role as lead independent director. The move comes a year after Gates stepped down from Microsoft's board amid an investigation into his relationship with a female Microsoft employee, though he still serves as an advisor to Nadella.
According to the Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal, the company's board has represented the change as a natural extension of Nadella's leadership, and a move that has been informally discussed since late last year.