Report says Microsoft has divided CEO list into possibles and probables

And Stephen Elop's not a probable

Steve Ballmer

Microsoft's search for a CEO has reportedly whittled down its list of candidates to just two, says Bloomberg.

The usual “people familiar with the matter” say that formed Nokia CEO Stephen Elop is on the possibles list, alongside former Skype CEO Tony Bates.

On the probables is Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Microsoft's cloudy commander Satya Nadella.

If correct, the report suggests Microsoft is considering two paths. Mullally has form managing massive and complex enterprises at Boeing and Ford, both of which did rather better once he took the reins. He's decently geeky, thanks to aeronautics qualifications, but not a software guy. If he got the gig it would likely be seen as a sign that Microsoft wants a new broom.

Nadella's track record in the servers and tools division is one of unbroken growth over years. Microsoft's misses in the consumer space aren't his problem. Should he get the chance to replace Steve Ballmer's butt groove with his own, it could be taken as a sign that he'll focus on cementing Microsoft as an enterprise powerhouse and perhaps make the consumer and online businesses someone else's problem.

Whatever happens, it looks like Messrs Elop and Bates can have an extra drink or three on Thanksgiving. ®

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