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Steve Ballmer with Alan Mulally
Steve Ballmer with Alan Mulally

Microsoft has one less CEO candidate to consider.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally tells The Associated Press today that he plans to stay at the auto giant through 2014, noting in the report that he wanted to end speculation about him being in the running for the Microsoft job. Mulally, the former Boeing executive who repositioned Ford, declined to say whether he had talked to Microsoft about the job.

He had been rumored as one of two front runners for the Microsoft CEO post, following Steve Ballmer’s surprise retirement announcement in August. In November, Bloomberg reported that Ford was the top external candidate.

However, last month, Ford board member Edsel Ford II said that Mulally would stay with the company through 2014.

“Frankly, he has told us that his plan is to stay with Ford through the end of 2014,” Ford said at the time. Now, it appears as if Mulally is backing up that statement — choosing cars over software.

Now, what’s next for Microsoft? It may turn to an internal candidate, including Satya Nadella, the head of Microsoft’s cloud services division, or Tony Bates, the former CEO of Skype and the head of Microsoft’s business division.

This much is certain: Microsoft appears to be spinning its tires as it looks for its next CEO.

This past weekend, The Wall Street Journal reported that Microsoft had hoped to choose a CEO by now. One potential roadblock is the involvement of both Ballmer and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates on the board, with Journal noting that the potential for boardroom clashes and second guessing remains high with those two men actively involved. In fact, Ballmer and Gates have said that they plan to continue to execute on the “One Microsoft” strategy that Ballmer laid out in July, one month before announcing his resignation.

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