There has already been a lot of speculation about who is going to get the top job at Redmond. Being the CEO of one of the biggest tech companies in the world is no easy job and Microsoft will most definitely be looking for the right candidate. Microsoft co-founder and chairman Bill Gates has attended but not addressed the company’s annual shareholder meeting for the past few years, today he broke that pattern in Bellevue, Washington. Bill Gates talked about various subjects, including the company’s search for a new leader.

Gates thanked Ballmer for his service, adding that Microsoft is “quite unusual” as it has only had two CEOs in its entire 38 year history, the two CEOs being Gates himself and his successor Steve Ballmer. Outgoing CEO Ballmer announced earlier this year that he’s going to step down within the next 12 months as the board’s special committee conducts a search for his successor. Gates said today that the committee is considering several people, both internal and external candidates are being vetted, but he didn’t give any specific names. Recent rumors suggest that ex Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Microsoft COO Kevin Turner are at the top of the list. Gates didn’t say when we can expect the search to be completed, though he did mention that he and the committee are pleased with the search process so far. Gates said that the new CEO will have to lead a “complex global business,” and focus on the company’s strengths and address the areas where its weak or faces challenges.

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