There are at least five external candidates and three internal candidates left

The search for Microsoft's next CEO seems to be moving right along as the list of potential candidates shrinks. 

According to a new report from Reuters, Microsoft has narrowed its list of potential CEOs down to about five external candidates, and is looking at at least three internal possibilities as well. 

The only known external candidates are Ford CEO Alan Mulally, former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop and Computer Sciences Corp. CEO Mike Lawrie. The names of the others could not be disclosed at this time.

As far as internal candidates go, former Skype CEO Tony Bates (who is now head of Microsoft's business development) and Satya Nadella (Microsoft's cloud and enterprise chief) are just a couple of potentials up for the part.

Microsoft started with a list of about 40 potential CEOs, so the list has dwindled considerably. However, it could take a few more months for the company to make a decision. 

A few of the candidates: Mulally (left), Elop (center) and Bates (right)

The hunt for a new CEO all started when current Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced his plan to retire back in August. More specifically, he said he'd retire sometime in the following 12 months. 

Even though Ballmer is a longtime employee at Microsoft (he joined the company on June 11, 1980 as the company's 30th employee and the first business manager hired by Microsoft Chairman and Co-Founder Bill Gates), the Board wants a new CEO to lead its latest restructuring plan, which will unify devices like Windows Phone, PC and Xbox One. Many believe Ballmer was pushed into retirement to allow someone new to turn the company around.

Ballmer gave an emotional goodbye in late September at his final Microsoft meeting in Seattle's KeyArena. About 13,000 Microsoft employees attended. 

Microsoft is still doing well in terms of finances, having beat Wall Street expectations last month when it comes to quarterly profit and revenue (it reported revenue of $18.53 billion and earnings per share of $0.62 compared to Wall Street's predictions of $17.8 billion in revenue and earnings per share of $0.54), but there are bigger problems that need to be addressed. For instance, market share for Windows smartphones and tablets lags far behind that of Apple and Android-powered mobile devices. Earlier this year, Microsoft took a $900 million write-down on the value of unsold Surface tablets.

Beyond that, Microsoft's online and mobile computing efforts do not make money, and its Bing search engine and other online businesses have lost almost $3 billion in the last two years alone. It also had an Xbox One hiccup when it tried to establish used game restrictions and an always-on requirement. This was a big deal when competitor Sony revealed the PlayStation 4, which didn't have either feature and was also faster and cheaper. 

Source: Reuters

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