Three of Microsoft's largest investors, owning a combined 5% of the company's shares, have told reporters from Reuters that they would like Bill Gates to step down from the board of Microsoft. They are especially troubled that Bill Gates is sitting on the committee that is responsible for hiring Ballmer's successor.

According to Reuters:

The three investors are concerned that Gates' presence on the board effectively blocks the adoption of new strategies and would limit the power of a new chief executive to make substantial changes. In particular, they point to Gates' role on the special committee searching for Ballmer's successor.

They are also worried that Gates - who spends most of his time on his philanthropic foundation - wields power out of proportion to his declining shareholding.

Gates, who owned 49 percent of Microsoft before it went public in 1986, sells about 80 million Microsoft shares a year under a pre-set plan, which if continued would leave him with no financial stake in the company by 2018.

The investors are particularly concerned that Bill Gates will get to choose Microsoft's new CEO because he is in charge of the board committee responsible for choosing the new CEO. The investors believe a new CEO should feel free to go in a different direction without the oversight and veto power of Bill Gates, whom picked the current board of directors.

What are your thoughts?