Microsoft will announce its new CEO in the early part of 2014, the company has announced, paring down 100 possible candidates for what will be only the firm's third ever chief executive. From that 100, Microsoft "talked with several dozen" and then focused on around twenty, board member John W. Thomspon reveals, with the process "moving ahead well."
"I expect we'll complete our work in the early part of 2014" Thompson concludes, pointing back to Bill Gates - original CEO and currently chairman of the Microsoft board - comments at the November shareholder meeting around the job search. Then, the former chief exec highlighted the complexities of running Microsoft, and cautioned investors to be patient as the hunt was ongoing.
Steve Ballmer's surprise announcement in August that he would step down from the CEO position prompted widespread speculation as to who might next hold the role. Several names, from a broad range of industries, have been suggested - including former Nokia CEO and Microsoft alumni Stephen Elop - but Microsoft has declined to comment on who might be under considerations.
The search has led to shuffling in other companies, however. Ford CEO Alan Mulally was widely tipped to be a strong possibility, especially considering he has previously confirmed his intentions to leave the car company, but Ford has insisted that he will be sticking around longer than Ballmer's departure.
Meanwhile, Steve Mollenkopf of Qualcomm was also suggested as a strong possibility, leading the chip firm to name him as its own future CEO in what some have seen as a pre-emptive strike for stability.
Microsoft's position in the consumer electronics market has been a fast-evolving one in recent years. The company has launched a new console, the Xbox One to a generally positive reception, though the Surface range of tablets have been less warmly welcomed. Meanwhile, Windows and Windows Phone have gone through several iterations already to refine what was initially lukewarm feedback.