It’s been nearly four months now since Steve Ballmer announced his intention to step down as Microsoft’s second-ever CEO, with plans to wrap things up over the following year. Even with plenty of time to make that transition, we heard claims since then that Microsoft really wanted to get on top of this, and would make its decision on new leadership before the year’s out. Well, as should be painfully obvious by now, 2013 is on its last legs, and in just a fortnight the year will be behind us; is that enough time for Microsoft to choose a new CEO? Don’t count on it, as the company just posted an update about its search process that makes it clear that we won’t be getting our answer this month.
Board of directors member John W. Thompson reports that work continues on researching and evaluating candidates, even with that list as pared-down as it’s become over the last few months, and that a decision is expected to be ready by “the early part of 2014.”
All this time has give us plenty of opportunities to look at the possible candidates ourselves, and while the chances for some (like Nokia’s beloved Stephen Elop) seem to be dwindling, others (like Ford’s Alan Mulally) have been feeling like stronger contenders than ever. Still, with Microsoft giving as much attention to this selection process as it is, we could easily find ourselves surprised; it’s very difficult for outsiders like us to appreciate just which qualities matter the most to the company. In any case, here’s hoping that “early 2014” is a bit more like January than March.