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Terry Myerson

Operating systems

PRO: A young entrepreneur whose web software company was bought by Microsoft in the late 1990s, he might bring a start-up mentality to the top job. Recently selected by Ballmer to run the full range of operating systems - which are still the heart of Microsoft - ranging across Windows PCs, tablets, phones and the Xbox game console.

CON: His last assignment was running the Windows Phone unit, which won praise for its clean, stylish software but has not come close to making Microsoft a big player in the smartphone market.

Candidates for Microsoft's Next CEO

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: