Microsoft wants to start 2014 with a new CEO in place

In August, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer started the clock by saying that he would be retiring within a year. Now, it appears that Microsoft is hoping to have him replaced in less than half a year with the end of 2013 being a target date.

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)’s board is working toward having the successor to Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer in place by the end of this year and is winnowing a list of candidates, said people with knowledge of the discussions.

The board is narrowing its choices amid preliminary interviews, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. Some candidates have declined to be considered, including EBay Inc. (EBAY) CEO John Donahoe, said two people. The board has also solicited advice from Silicon Valley veterans such as Charles Giancarlo, a former Cisco Systems Inc. executive and now a managing director at private-equity firm Silver Lake, said other people with knowledge of the matter.

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