Microsoft looking to replace CEO Ballmer by the end of 2013

Steve Ballmer head shot

Microsoft hopes to have the successor to CEO Steve Ballmer in place by the end of the year, with preliminary interviews reportedly underway.

Ballmer announced he was quitting as Microsoft's chief at the end of August, 13 years after first taking over the company reins.

At the time, it was said he would stand down once a suitable successor was found within the next 12 months.

However, according to Bloomberg sources, Ballmer could be heading for the exit doors sooner, as the hunt for a new CEO has reportedly begun in earnest.

The aim is to have a new CEO in charge by the end of 2013, although that could be harder to achieve if an external candidate is chosen for the role.

The sources claim the Microsoft board is narrowing its field of candidates, as some potential applicants have already declined, including eBay CEO John Donahoe.

Other names in the frame include Ford Motor Company's CEO Alan Mulally, and Stephen Elop, who coincidentally is set to rejoin Microsoft in the coming months, once its $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia is finalised.

Microsoft declined to comment on the story.

Ballmer was the 30th employee hired at Microsoft by Bill Gates, and progressed up the ranks to be appointed CEO in 2000.

His retirement announcement comes at a turbulent time for Microsoft, having recently undergone one of the largest staffing re-organisations in the company's history.

Windows 8, the first latest desktop operating system has been mauled by users and critics, prompting the firm to release an update for it, in the form of Windows 8.1, later this month.

Furthermore, its first foray into making its own tablet devices resulted in the firm having to swallow a $900 million write down after failing to shift enough Surface RT units.

In light of that, it's perhaps unsurprising Microsoft wants to have a new CEO installed as soon as possible.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.