After replacing Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates for more than a decade, Steve Ballmer announced his retirement as company chief executive officer in late August. Aiming to have a replacement as soon as next month, Microsoft Corp's board will meet Monday to whittle the roster of CEO candidates to three to five people. 

"Microsoft directors are probably focused more on candidates' strategic vision and capacity to lead a complex global company and less on industry specific experience," said search committee advisory firm McCool Group President Joseph McCool. "A critical filter is whether a candidate can immediately inspire confidence among both shareholders and employees." 

Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally, former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop are external choices, said people knowledgable of the development. According to board documents seen by some, candidates for the Windows maker's CEO position has an "extensive track record in managing complex, global organizations within a fast-paced and highly competitive market sector; track record of delivering top and bottom line results. Proven ability to lead a multi-billion dollar organization and large employee base."

Speaking to The Streetbank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Kash Rangan said that if Mulally is chosen, stock prices could boost as high as 10 percent and certain businesses like Xbox could be sold off and Bing could be shut down. Called by the business publication as a "radical of all the in-house candidates," its been speculated that Elop could release a more featured version of Office for Apple's iOS and Google's Android operating system.

Also considered in the running are three internal candidates, including business development and evangelism chief Tony Bates and cloud and enterprise business overseer Satya Nadella. 

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