Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer is stepping down and the maker of the world’s most popular operating system is going to have a new leader some time in the next twelve months. The price of the company’s shares rose by a significant percentage on today’s market, not the best compliment Ballmer could have received but an indication that investors are excited about the company’s future.


It’s a little early to make sweeping proclamations about who is set to take the reigns at Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), but it’s not too early to have a look at the field. The Microsoft CEO is either going to be a promising candidate from inside the company or a fairly high profile tech executive; that narrows the field to a decent pool.

Microsoft’s list:

Qi Lu

This is the software pick. Lu has spent most of his time doing what he could to improve the Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) search engine Bing, but now he’s in charge of Microsoft Office, and many other parts of the company’s lucrative software business. If the new Microsoft is going to concentrate on big software offerings, Lu is a likely candidate.

Julie Larson-Green

Once given the head engineer’s post in the most important part of Microsoft, the Windows division, Larson-Green is currently in charge of the Surface tablet division that is so important to Microsoft’s future. Larson-Green is likely to become a more and more important part of Microsoft as it evolves in the next twelve months—she could be a great pick to head up the company.

Kevin Turner

Turner has served as the Chief Operations Officer at Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) for years. He’s good at his job, and his position as a stable number two is important to the company. He’s unlikely to end up at the head of the company. If Turner is the pick, shareholders are likely to be angry as the pick would show little evolution in the company’s future, and little ability to change going ahead.

Satya Nadella

In the hours since the search started in the media, Nadella has risen to the top of many lists. He has been in charge of much of Microsoft’s business in the enterprise sector, one of the company’s key growth areas. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has served consumers as an extension of its enterprise business for year, and enterprise is still the heart of the company.