There has been endless speculation about possible candidates who’ll get the top job at Microsoft ever since Steve Ballmer announced back in August that he is going to retire within 12 months. A number of names have surfaced again and again over the past few months, including that of Nokia CEO Stephen Elop and Ford CEO Alan Mulally. According to Reuters, both of them have made Microsoft’s shortlist which includes three internal and a few external candidates, down from the original 40 names that the company’s search committee started off with.


Despite the fact that it has created a shortlist, it may take a few months before a final selection is made. It has already been rumored that a number of influential investors are pushing the company to go with a turnaround expert like Mulally, who is credited with turning around Ford after he took over as its CEO back in 2006. He initially agreed to serve the car manufacturer until 2014, though if another opportunity opens up, he can make the switch. Mulally previously denied that he was interested in moving to Microsoft, but he has now apparently warmed up to the idea. Stephen Elop is another external candidate who left the company back in 2010 to head Nokia. He’ll be returning to Microsoft next year as the company’s acquisition of the Finnish manufacturer’s phone business closes in Q1, 2014. Internal candidates for the top slot include Tony Bates, former Skype CEO, and Satya Nadella who is the head of the company’s business development.

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