As soon as Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer announced his exit plans, there have been widespread speculations over who will be the next chief executive of the world’s largest software company. There is a long list of candidates who may replace the notorious chief of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT). The software giant’s shares are down 38% since Steve Ballmer took the helm in 2000. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is looking for a leader who can revive its business in consumer, search, gaming, mobile and personal computing businesses.

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Stephen Elop to head Microsoft?

There is a long list of possible candidates who could replace Steve Ballmer when he retires after 12 months. However, bookies believe that Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) (BIT:NOK1V) (HEL:NOK1V) chief Stephen Elop will be the next Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) CEO, according to Alex Sherman and Scott Moritz of Bloomberg. Similarly, the British gambling website Ladbrokes.com bookies say Stephen Elop has 5-1 odds to replace Ballmer. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has already indicated that it is open to consider internal as well as external candidates.

Before joining Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) (BIT:NOK1V) (HEL:NOK1V) in 2010, Stephen Elop was the head of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s business division. After joining the Finnish mobile phone maker, Elop announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) to use a Windows Phone operating system in Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) (BIT:NOK1V) (HEL:NOK1V)’s smartphones. Stephen Elop is yet to deliver strong signs of Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) (BIT:NOK1V) (HEL:NOK1V)’s revival. The Finnish company’s stock has declined 62% since he joined the company.

Other top contenders for Microsoft CEO post

Other top contenders are internal candidates including chief operating officer Kevin Turner and Windows chief Julie Larson-Green. Odds for Turner are 6-to-1, with 8-1 for Julie Larson-Green. Other leading choices are Qi Lu (10-1), executive vice-president Tony Bates (10-1), Terry Myerson (12-1) and Satya Nadella (14-1). Despite weaker odds, Nadella is considered a strong contender because he heads the company’s cloud and enterprise operations. Microsoft Corporation hasn’t been so strong on consumer turf amid smartphone revolution, as iOS and Android became the go-to operating systems for tablets and smartphones. The company wants to strengthen its position in enterprise and cloud business.

Some surprising candidates are Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) COO Sheryl Sandberg with a 40-1 shot, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) co-founder and favorite choice Bill Gates at 50-1 odds. The dark horse is Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) CEO Tim Cook with odds at 100-1.

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) shares jumped 1.57% to $33.54 at 11:41 AM EDT.