Alan Mulally, FordFord

Microsoft CEO watch continues: Mulally commits to Ford, not Microsoft

Ford chief executive Alan Mulally appears to have pulled himself out of the running—yet again—to replace Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Ford director Edsel Ford II said that Mulally plans to remain at the automaker through the end of 2014. “Frankly, he has told us that his plan is to stay with Ford through the end of 2014,” Ford told Bloomberg.

Mulally has consistently declined to talk about leaving the company, even through reports have placed him at the top of or near the top of the list to replace Ballmer, who will probably have departed the company by next summer. Ford representatives have downplayed Mulally leaving.

Ballmer, meanwhile, has been on a farewell tour of sorts, saying goodbye at analyst and employee meetings, and in major publications as well.

The shortlist to replace Ballmer has been said to include Skype chief Tony Bates, Microsoft cloud guru Satya Nadella, and Stephen Elop, who is set to return to Microsoft early next year when the Microsoft-Nokia acquisition wraps up. Elop has privately indicated that he could make drastic changes, such as selling the Bing and Xbox divisions, which many have possibly pushed him aside in the CEO race.

If Elop and Mulally are on the sidelines, does that clear the way for Nadella and Bates? Or are other candidates rising to the top? We’ll probably find out after the holidays, as the vetting process continues. Maybe Microsoft should just formally inaugurate the process as a reality show. It practically is, anyways.

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