It's rare that a single event is good news both for millions of dying children in poor countries and for millions of computer users in rich ones, but I think Bill Gates's announcement that he'll be abdicating his day-to-day role at Microsoft in favor of his charity work qualifies.

Michael Specter's October New Yorker piece implied that Gates is turning his genius for systems logic to philanthropic ends, and that this has the potential to make philanthropy as a whole both more internationally focussed and more thoroughly results-oriented. So if Gates is going to spend more time on those endeavors, that's a positive.

But it's also a positive that he's going to spend less time at Microsoft. That's not because Microsoft is dependent Gates's smartness -- there are lots of smart people still there. (And the stock market agrees with me.) It's because Gates is clearly leaving Microsoft because Microsoft is not a fun place to be. Unable to ship its flagship product, lurching embarrassingly after competitors that threaten to upend its entire business model, incapable of generating excitement among investors -- this is a company in decline. And Gates's departure is a symptom of this collapse, not a cause. He's the canary in the coal mine, except that in this case the canary happens to own the mining company.

Since Microsoft under Gates has exploited its monopoly position to pollute the software environment for everyone who uses a computer, signs of its decline go straight into the good-news file.