Who is next in line to take over Microsoft?

With CEO Ballmer set to retire within a year, the tech industry and Wall Street are contemplating candidates.

MARKETWATCHAugust 24, 2013 

The next leader of the world’s largest software company must fill the shoes of CEO Steve Ballmer, who has put his own stamp on Microsoft Corp. during his 13-year tenure. He took over the top job from co-founder and original CEO Bill Gates. The new boss will come in the midst of a corporate reorganization announced barely a month ago that is among the most-sweeping in Microsoft’s 38-year history.

“(He) has to be a software genius as well as a solid manager,” said Tim Bajarin, president of tech research firm Creative Strategies.

Bajarin said the next Microsoft CEO will have to “take them back to their roots and manage this dramatic shift to mobile in new ways that puts them on track to grow their role in the only segment of the market that is growing exponentially.”

Bajarin said the top of his list would include former Microsoft chief software architect and chief technical officer Ray Ozzie, who left the company in 2010.

Another top candidate that Bajarin says could get attention is Craig Mundie, who, until Microsoft’s July reorganization, had been the company’s chief research and strategy officer. At the time the reorganization was announced, Ballmer said Mundie would be devoting “100 percent of his time on a special project” through the end of the year, and then serving as a company consultant until the end of 2014.

Among the current Microsoft executives with high-profile positions following the reorganization are Terry Myerson, who runs the group that’s responsible for all of the company’s operating system and cloud services development; Julie Larson-Green, who’s in charge of Microsoft’s devices and studio engineering group; Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner, who oversees the company’s world-wide sale, marketing and Microsoft stores; Satya Nadella, who runs Microsoft’s cloud and enterprise engineering group, and applications and services engineering group head Qi Lu.

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