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New Microsoft CEO: Elop's tip-top, bookies say. Sandberg? Long shot

The lads at Ladbrokes have announced the odds for who might be the new Microsoft CEO. Nokia's CEO is favorite. Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg is 40-1.

Steve Ballmer and Stephen Elop at Microsoft-Nokia event in New York, 9/5/12
Steve Ballmer and Stephen Elop share a happy moment at a Microsoft-Nokia event in New York in September 2012.
Sarah Tew/CNET

It's all very well to speculate who might be the next CEO of Microsoft, but there are people who have an inside track.

No, not the Microsoft board. Its members haven't seemed entirely sure what they've been doing for years.

Whenever you really want to know whether the wind is blowing north, south or merely out of mouth, you talk to a bookie.

A bookie's algorithms are more finely tuned than a first violinist's Strad. Moreover, so many large-pocketed people pass before bookies' eyes -- and get tipsy while doing it -- that they offer up all sorts of honest information.

I am, therefore, delirious at being in possession of Ladbrokes' official odds in the race to run Redmond.

It's tight. Very tight. Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

The favorite, perhaps unsurprisingly, is former Softie and now Nokia CEO Stephen Elop at 5-1. There are many who believe that his very familiarity with Microsoft, and especially Windows Phone, makes him the ideal candidate.

Running him very close is current Softie COO Kevin Turner at 6-1, with recent Softie Steve Sinokfsy at 8-1.

Your eyes, though, might go aflutter at some of the other names a little lower down the list.

Lookie, there's Netflix CEO (and former Microsoft board member) Reed Hastings at 16-1. He must know where at least some of the corpses are hidden.

Google's overtly self-confident Vic Gundotra lurks at 25-1. Former Steve Jobs wunderkind Scott Forstall is at 33-1.

And there at 40-1 drifts Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. What a political (in so many senses of the word) triumph it would be to see the profile-building Sandberg sneak along the rails and take over in Redmond.

Yahoo and Marissa Mayer have proved that a surprise choice gets people excited. Somehow, Wall Street loves excitement -- any kind of excitement. That's just one of the reasons Snapchat is so popular there.

Many might wonder whether Sandberg might be an appropriate selection, or whether she'd even be interested. Would she truly have a revolutionary vision? Would she have the heft to lean in on such a vast organization?

Some might also wonder whether Ladbrokes' computers have suffered a little in the desperate search for the appropriate odds.

For, to Ladbrokes, she is "Cheryl Sandberg."

Oh, and Tim Cook's 100-1, in case you wondered.