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Steve Ballmer with Alan Mulally
Steve Ballmer with Alan Mulally

It has been more than three months since Steve Ballmer announced his plans to retire as CEO of Microsoft, setting off a wave of speculation about who could fill his shoes. Could the board finally be nearing a decision?

Bloomberg reporters Dina Bass and Carol Hymowitz — citing “people familiar with the matter” — report today that Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Microsoft executive Satya Nadella are currently the frontrunners preferred by the board.

Other top candidates such as Tony Bates, the former Skype CEO who now serves as vice president of Microsoft’s Business Development and Evangelism group, and Stephen Elop, the former Nokia CEO who plans to join Microsoft in an executive role after the deal is completed, are “less likely to be offered the job,” Bloomberg reports.

The report also notes that situation remains “fluid” and other people are still being considered, though no other names were given.

Former Boeing executive Mulally, as we’ve noted in the past, would be a surprising yet bold choice. Mulally is largely credited with repositioning Ford, and he’s a longtime friend and confidant of Ballmer. But at age 68, he’s probably not a long-term CEO for the software giant.

Satya Nadella
Satya Nadella

Analyst Rick Sherlund last month suggested that Mulally and former Microsoft exec Paul Maritz should be brought in together.

“Mr. Mulally could mind the store and manage changes in the business while the exciting development work is managed by Mr. Maritz. We think that this is a match that could work, and that investors would obviously be thrilled if it came about,” Sherlund wrote.

Nadella, who joined Microsoft in 1992 after a stint at Sun Microsystems, was born in 1969 and now runs Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group. Nadella was born in Hyderabad, India, and received a Master of Science in computer science from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Chicago.

Earlier this month, Reuters reported that Microsoft’s board had narrowed their field of choices to about five candidates. Now, has that field been narrowed to two?

Stay tuned, as Bloomberg also reports that the company is hoping to have its candidate chosen this year.

Previously on GeekWire: Bill Gates explains what Microsoft needs in a new CEO

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