Earlier this year outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced that he would retire within 12 months. Since then the board’s special committee has been looking at a number of possible candidates, both internal and external. It was rumored that Microsoft wants to make an announcement by the end of this year, but apparently it won’t be able to. Microsoft board member John Thompson reveals in a blog post that the new Microsoft CEO won’t be announced until early 2014.

While he didn’t specify frontrunners, Thompson said that the committee has done “deeper research and investigation,” including the full board, and its moving ahead well. He believes that they will be able to complete their work in “the early part of 2014.” Over the past few months there has been endless speculation about who will become Microsoft’s third CEO. Several names have floated around, including those of Ford CEO Alan Mulally, outgoing Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, and internal Microsoft candidates Satya Nadella and Tony Bates. The special committee certainly has a titanic task on its hands and it would obviously not rush into such a big decision. While all candidates are said to be on the shortlist, it has been rumored that Elop might not be picked up. Mulally’s chances are reportedly much better, but we can’t be absolutely sure until an official announcement is made.

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