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Microsoft’s CEO search has lead to plenty of speculation over who will take over the software giant when Steve Ballmer steps down. Until now, the company hadn’t made a single public statement on the subject since Ballmer announced his plans to resign, but today board member John Thompson shared an update on Microsoft’s ongoing search for its next leader, stating he expects the decision to be finalized “in the early part of 2014.”

Thompson, who served as chair of the CEO search committee, describes the process so far, revealing that over 100 possible candidates were initially picked out across a variety of industries. Next the group met with dozens of those people, before narrowing the search down to a about 20 potential choices. It’s unclear if the search committee has moved beyond this group of 20 candidates, though Thompson seems confident that they’ll reach a final decision in the near future.

With no news coming out of Microsoft, speculation over the company’s CEO search has run rampant with various reports pointing to former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, Ford CEO Alan Mullally and current Microsoft COO Kevin Turner as the current frontrunner at a given time. With 20 candidates still in the race it’s likely still anyone’s game to win, though we won’t know anything for sure until next year.

Source Microsoft