After Microsoft trimmed down its list of next would-be top executive to replace outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer, a veteran industry analyst foresee an announcement this December. Rick Sherlund of Nomura Securities predicted that the software company will most likely name Alan Mulally of Ford as its new CEO.

Sherlund disclosed that based on his conversations with people on the know, the top three front-runners for Microsoft's top position are Ford CEO and former Boeing top man Alan Mulally; James McNerney, who is CEO and chairman of Boeing; and Edward Breen, who is the current chairman and former CEO of Tyco. The analyst does not think that an insider is being considered for Ballmer's position, not even Nokia's Stephen Elop, who will formally return to Microsoft upon the completion of the acquisition of the handset business of the Finnish company.

While Sherlund thinks that Mulally is the guy for the job, he still believes that sharing the position with a co-chief executive that has more experience and vision will benefit the company. The analyst sees Paul Maritz, CEO of Pivotal, as a good fit.

" is probably too much to expect Mr. Maritz to engage in such a big fix undertaking at this point in his long and successful career when he may enjoy more building fresh new generation cloud products," Sherlund wrote in a statement to investors Wednesday.

Sherlund forecast that Bill Gates might have a temporary but active role in product perspective. The analyst also added that Microsoft might decide to buy back the four percent share worth $12 billion held by Ballmer.

According to Sherlund, the current CEO might be scrutinized by the board of the company for the strategies he implemented.

"I think it's reasonable to expect that he would not likely want to remain on the board if his track record is going to be scrutinized and questioned on a very intensive basis. I think that would not be a fun process to go through for Ballmer, when he's accustomed to being the authority and now his decisions would be overturned," stated Sherlund.

The analyst also pointed out that the new Microsoft CEO might also mull the strategy shift of the company. He said that it might benefit if Microsoft drops the Bing and Xbox business. The company's search engine business has resulted in $17 billion in losses in the last decade and throws $1.5 billion out of the window every year. The gaming console is also irrelevant at the moment since it is no longer about who controls the living room with all the second screens such as smartphones and tablets that have the attention of consumers.  

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