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Microsoft narrows CEO search to two candidates, sources claim

Microsoft's search for its next CEO has been reduced to just two candidates, according to recent reports.

Citing people familiar with the matter, business news site Bloomberg has claimed that Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Microsoft Cloud boss Satya Nadella are the front-running contenders for Microsoft's top spot.

The hunt for Microsoft's next CEO has so far drawn in many high profile names, including former Skype president Tony Bates and former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop. However, Bloomberg's anonymous sources believe that they are no longer favoured by the company.

The ideal candidate for the position, as defined by the board for the CEO search, is expected to have an "extensive track record in managing complex, global organizations within a fast-paced and highly competitive market sector; track record of delivering top and bottom line results. Proven ability to lead a multi-billion dollar organization and large employee base."

Such criteria may favour Ford's current CEO, though Ford has declined to comment on any developments.

A spokesperson for Ford said in a statement: "There is no change from what we announced last November. Alan remains completely focused on executing our One Ford plan. We do not engage in speculation."

Current CEO Steve Ballmer announced his plans to step down in August, following 33 years at Microsoft. In an internal email to staff, Ballmer wrote: "There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time.

"My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our transformation to a devices and services company focused on empowering customers in the activities they value most. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction."

It is believed that Microsoft is keen to reveal his replacement before the end of the year.