A few weeks back it was announced that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is going to retire within 12 months. The company’s board is currently exploring various external and internal candidates. There were rumors circulating last week about Stephen Elop, who held the top spot at Nokia, being tapped for the job. However, a recent report claims that he probably won’t be Microsoft’s new CEO. Reuters reports today that at least three of the top 20 Microsoft investors want the company to hire a “turnaround expert” as its new CEO. They’re apparently urging Microsoft to put Ford co-CEO Alan Mulally and Computer Sciences Crop CEO Mike Lawrie on the shortlist.

The board’s committee is trimming down a list of 40 possible candidates, it is being said. Names of the people on that list haven’t leaked out as yet. It is not known right now if Microsoft is considering Mulally or Lawrie, or has even reached out to them. Mulally is knowing for turning around Ford during its tough times, however as per the company’s succession plan, he is expected to hold on to the reins until at least 2014. Lawrie is currently executing a multiyear turnaround plan at Computer Sciences, he has previously worked at Misys Plc and IBM. The appointment of Microsoft’s new CEO is one of the most closely watched developments in the technology industry, since it will have a direct impact on the direction Microsoft takes in the future.

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