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Microsoft to expect new CEO on board in early 2014 – as Steve Ballmer announced his retirement in August

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Almost four months have passed since Steve Ballmer announced his plan to resign as Microsoft’s CEO. Ballmer isn’t scheduled to step down until August 23, 2014, but according to one of Microsoft’s board members, the company may get a new CEO before then.

Writing for the official Microsoft Blog, board member John W. Thompson says the search for a new Microsoft CEO is “moving ahead well.” More importantly, he adds, “I expect we’ll complete our work in the early part of 2014.”

Thompson is leading the four-man committee to find a new CEO, which includes co-founder and chairman Bill Gates.

“We identified over 100 possible candidates, talked with several dozen and then focused our energy intensely on a group of about 20 individuals,” said Thompson in the blog. “As this group has narrowed, we’ve done deeper research and investigation, including with the full board.”

Intense speculation has surrounded Mulally as a leading candidate. He has not denied interest in the job, but has repeatedly said he enjoys working at Ford, where he is slated to remain through 2014.

Last week it was reported that Qualcomm Inc executive Steve Mollenkopf was a leading candidate for the job, but the chip maker forestalled that by making him CEO.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer greets the audience before he delivers a speech at the 2012 Seoul Digital Forum in SeoulAlan-Mulally-fordMollenkopf

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