Microsoft eyes list of 40 candidates to replace Ballmer: report

Who will replace outgoing Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer? Some investors want Ford's Alan Mulally or Computer Sciences' Mike Lawrie.

Photos courtesy Microsoft, Ford, CSC

Speculation on who Microsoft will choose to replace outgoing chief executive Steve Ballmer has already reached a fever pitch, but that's not stopping the company's own investors from making their preferences known.

Reuters reports today that "at least three of the top 20 investors" in the company "want a turnaround expert to succeed Steve Ballmer as chief executive."

Their suggestions? Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally and Computer Sciences Corp. CEO Mike Lawrie.

Mulally, 68, is known for turning around the U.S. automaker in the face of the recent global economic downturn. He has indicated that he plans to stay at Ford through 2014. Prior to Ford, Mulally served at Seattle-based Boeing for four decades.

Lawrie, 59, is a life-long information technologist who most recently served at U.K.-based Misys, a global IT solutions provider to the financial services industry. You may know him better as the former CEO of Siebel Systems, the software and solutions company. Before that, he spent almost three decades at IBM.

One, a high-profile manager with little software experience; the other, the very opposite.

Coincidentally, Gates Foundation CEO Jeff Raikes announced this morning that he would be stepping down from that role. The 55-year-old was formerly head of Microsoft's business division.

Reuters' Nadia Damouni, Bill Rigby and Deepa Seetharaman report that Microsoft's special search committee to replace Ballmer has a list "of about 40 people, including internal and external candidates," and is currently working to narrow it down.

Microsoft "could name a CEO as soon as the end of this year," Damouni reports.

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