Report – Microsoft shortlists CEO candidates, Mullally and Elop still in the books image

According to people that have knowledge of the matter, Microsoft has weighed down its list of external candidates to replace Chief Executive Steve Ballmer to just five people, including Ford’s Alan Mulally and former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop.

The world’s biggest software maker also has at least three internal candidates on its shortlist, including former Skype CEO Tony Bates, who is now responsible for Microsoft’s business development, and Satya Nadella, the company’s cloud and enterprise boss, the sources said.

Ford spokesman Jay Cooney said: “There is no change from what we announced last November. Alan remains fully focused on continuing to make progress on our One Ford plan. We do not engage in speculation.”

Investors have asked Microsoft’s board lately to look for a turnaround expert, such as Mulally or Computer Sciences Corp CEO Mike Lawrie, to take Ballmer’s position. Some investors have also suggested to the board that co-founder Bill Gates should retire from his role as chairman, as he apparently stands in the way of radical reform at Microsoft.

It remains unclear when Mulally will retire from Ford, which he has led since 2006. He has repeatedly said he plans to stick to his agreement to keep the job at Ford until the end of 2014. But people familiar with the matter have previously hinted that Mulally is pursuing other opportunities and may leave Ford earlier if another job offer appears.

Via Reuters