Microsoft is working to name a new CEO before the end of this year. According to a Bloomberg report, the company is currently mulling over a shortlist of candidates, which includes Ford CEO Alan Mulally and former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, two names we’ve heard mentioned in discussions before. Elop in particular seems like a strong candidate, as he worked closely with Microsoft after Nokia agreed to use Windows Phone exclusively on its Lumia devices.

People close to Microsoft’s plans said announcing Ballmer’s successor will depend on factors like compensation and other details; if it’s a candidate currently employed at an external company, it’ll depend on how quickly that person can depart from their current company. While names like Mulally and Elop have repeatedly been linked, others, such as eBay CEO John Donahoe, have declined to be considered at all despite Microsoft’s advances.

Throughout Microsoft’s 38-year history, the Redmond company has only had two CEOs: co-founder Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. Filling the shoes of Ballmer, who was such an enigmatic and thunderous figure, will be no easy feat, especially with Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 still failing to gain any significant traction; WP in particular hasn’t put up much of a fight compared to iOS and Android.

Ballmer recently held his final employee meeting for Microsoft late last month, closing a long chapter in the company’s history. With only a few months of 2013 to go, Microsoft’s board is reportedly moving quick to secure a successor; whether it’s Elop or Mulally, or even another candidate, remains to be seen. Whoever steps in, that person will certainly have some extremely enthusiastic shoes to fill.