Microsoft's board is expected to render its decision in early 2014.
In a blog post on Tuesday, John W. Thompson, a member of Microsoft’s board of directors, said that the search committee, which he chairs, won't choose a candidate until next year. Still, he said he was "pleased" with the committee's progress – and said that the search included both outsiders and current Microsoft employees.
"We identified over 100 possible candidates, talked with several dozen, and then focused our energy intensely on a group of about 20 individuals, all extremely impressive in their own right," Mr. Thompson wrote. "As you would expect, as this group has narrowed, we’ve done deeper research and investigation, including with the full board. We’re moving ahead well, and I expect we’ll complete our work in the early part of 2014."
Mr. Ballmer announced he was stepping down earlier this year. "There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time," Ballmer said in August. Since then, rumors have swirled about his possible replacement. Some analysts have mentioned Stephen Elop, currently the CEO of Nokia, which Microsoft is in the process of acquiring; others have speculated it could be Ford CEO Alan Mulally.
In related news, last week, the tech site The Verge reported that Nokia was working on an Android-powered smart phone code-named "Normandy." The device would allegedly replace the Asha line of Nokia phones in some developing markets. Nokia did not comment. But within the Finnish company, "there is a sense that Redmond" – i.e. Microsoft – "may be willing to pursue the project," writes Ina Fried of All Things D.