Nathan Myhrvold, the controversial chief technology officer at Microsoft Corporation, has officially begun a yearlong leave of absence so that he can explore other interests. While Myhrvold has many detractors at Microsoft, he has the only support he truly needs: That of CEO Bill Gates.

"Nathan has been an invaluable contributor to Microsoft, the technology industry and to me personally over the past 13 years," said Gates. "Frankly, I would rather he continue his work at Microsoft, but I support his decision to take a much needed break and explore his passion for science. Nathan has been involved in many aspects of product strategy and technology development, and he was instrumental in convincing the company to establish a research laboratory."

Myhrvold, who among other things will spend some of his time off hunting for dinosaur bones in Montana, says that he has the best job in the world. Rick Rashid, Microsoft's vice president of research, will assume Myhrvold's day-to-day responsibilities in his absence