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Steve Ballmer replacement Microsoft CEO not expected until 2014

Those of you hoping to close 2013 with a new Microsoft CEO will be disappointed. Redmond said today that Steve Ballmer's successor probably won't be selected until "the early part of 2014."

In a blog post, board member John W. Thompson said that Microsoft initially identified more than 100 qualified CEO candidates, and spoke to several dozen. That list was whittled down to about 20 people, and has been reduced since.

The board is "moving ahead well" with its search, he continued, with members focused on "finding the best possible person to lead the company."

He stressed that the next CEO of Microsoft will have a "complex role to fill." He or she must be able to "lead a highly technical organization and work with top technical talent."

"Microsoft has had only two CEOs in its 38-year history. As a Board, we are determined and confident that the company's third CEO will lead Microsoft to renewed and continued success," Thompson continued. "We're looking forward to 2014 and the opportunities and decisions that lie ahead."

Ballmer announced in August that he would step down as CEO within the next year. In the months since, a number of names have been floated as his replacement, including former Nokia chief Stephen Elop and Ford CEO Alan Mulally.

When Microsoft announced plans to acquire Nokia's handset business in September, Elop stepped aside as Nokia president and CEO to become executive vice president of devices and services at Microsoft. Other internal candidates reportedly under consideration for the CEO gig are former Skype CEO Tony Bates, currently executive vice president of Microsoft's Business Development and Evangelism group, and Satya Nadella, executive vice president of Microsoft's Cloud and Enterprise group.

More recently, there were also rumblings about Steve Mollenkopf, but just this week he was named CEO of Qualcomm.