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Ford CEO Mulally in lead for Microsoft CEO job?

Unnamed sources tell AllThingsD that, despite his initial claims to the contrary, Ford CEO Alan Mulally has warmed up to the idea of succeeding Steve Ballmer and is now a front-runner candidate.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally next to an electronically augmented S-Max concept car at the IFA show in Berlin
Ford CEO Alan Mulally next to an electronically augmented S-Max concept car this month at the IFA show in Berlin. Ford Motor Co.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally's name has already been bandied about the candidate pool for replacing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who announced his retirement last month. And it seemed the lively executive wasn't too interested in the post -- at least initially -- vowing to remain with his company in the upcoming year.

But All Things Digital is reporting Mulally may have had a change of heart. Citing unnamed sources "close to the situation," AllThingsD's Kara Swisher said Mulally "has become more amenable to the idea in recent weeks." Mulally, who has been CEO of Ford for seven years and has earned kudos for a restructuring plan that helped return the carmaker to profitability, has yet to respond to Swisher's request for comment.

Alan Mulally took over Ford in 2006. CBS News

Ballmer said he plans to retire within 12 months, once a replacement is found who will carry out Microsoft's new vision of offering devices and services, not just software. The company's board has formed a special committee to seek out potential candidates. Meeting with Microsoft's shareholders, the committee has been narrowing down its list of possible successors from an initial 40 people, both internal and external.

Soon after Ballmer's announcement, Microsoft bought Nokia for $7.2 billion, which made its chief executive, Stephen Elop, a top contender for CEO of the software giant.

Among others rumored to be leading the list of candidates are Microsoft Executive VP Tony Bates, who had previously been CEO of Skype, Computer Sciences CEO Mike Lawrie, former Windows Chief Steven Sinofsky, and former Juniper Networks CEO Kevin Johnson.