Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) shareholders have urged the company to include Alan Mulally and Mike Lawrie to its list of shortlisted candidates for the next CEO. According to Nadia Damouni of Reuters, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) investors want a turnaround expert to lead the software giant. Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that the special committee that is conducting a CEO search met shareholders after Steve Ballmer announced his retirement. The CEO search committee could name a chief executive by the end of this year.

 Microsoft

Microsoft evaluating 40 potential candidates

Sources said that Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has a list of about 40 candidates. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) isn’t in a dire state, but the company is facing stiff challenges from Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), whose operating systems dominate the smartphone and tablet landscape. Despite spending billions of dollars, Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS hasn’t been able to challenge the iOS and Android. Last quarter, the Seattle-based software giant wrote-down $900 million on unsold Surface tablets. Most of the company’s profits come from PC operating systems. But PC sales, too, continue to decline.

Investors have lost confidence in Steve Ballmer. Microsoft shares jumped 7 percent after he announced his retirement. Stephen Elop is back to Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) after the software maker acquired Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) (BIT:NOK1V) (HEL:NOK1V) for $7.1 billion. He, too, could be a strong candidate for the top post.

Microsoft investors’ choice

Last week, there were reports that Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) CEO Alan Mulally could quit the automaker before his planned retirement at the end of 2014. AllThingsD also reported that Mulally could join the software maker. Later, Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) and Alan Mulally both denied speculations saying that Mulally is “committed to serving Ford.”

He is known to have successfully revived Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F), an ailing automaker at the time. Mulally joined Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) in 2006 when the company posted $12.7 billion in annual losses. He restructured the product development process under the “One Ford” strategy and re-established Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) as a profitable business.

Another choice of investors, Mike Lawrie, is a long-time IT veteran. Before joining Computer Sciences Corporation (NYSE:CSC) last year, he revived the British financial software company Misys Plc. Lawrie is currently leading a turnaround plan for Computer Sciences Corporation (NYSE:CSC). More importantly, he has also worked as a general partner with ValueAct Capital, the activist hedge fund that pushed Ballmer to exit.

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) shares were up 1.72% to $32.20 at 10:30 AM EDT.