Candidates for Microsoft's Next CEO

Yahoo Finance
Eric Rudder

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Microsoft Corp has a stable of senior executives who could be contenders to succeed Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, even though outsiders have sparked the most discussion so far.

After Ballmer's surprise announcement on Friday that he would retire within a year, the board's lead independent director John Thompson, who heads the search for the new CEO, said the planned transformation of the software giant into a fast-moving 'devices and services' company is still on track.

But insiders would face scepticism from those who want a clean break from Ballmer's personal legacy, as well as other obstacles.

The following is a list of potential internal candidates, with pros and cons, based on conversations with analysts and insiders:

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