In response, Microsoft's nine-person board, including chairman and co-founder Bill Gates, is supporting Ballmer, Reuters reporting, citing a single source. "Bill Gates is a ruthless capitalist," one fund manager tells Reuters. "If he wanted to, he'd walk Ballmer to the door himself." Safe as CEO or not, there's still a general perception among investors that Microsoft's stock has suffered under Ballmer, and that he's failing to compete in increasingly key areas like mobile and tablet computing. How much more patience Gates and the rest of the board is unknown.