Ford boss edging out Elop in race to replace Ballmer, report says

New reports suggest Ford's Alan Mulally and Microsoft exec Satya Nadella are ahead of rivals including Nokia boss Stephen Elop in the race to replace Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

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Ford boss Alan Mulally has edged ahead of Nokia boss Stephen Elop in the race for the top job at Microsoft, according to new reports.

Bloomberg reports that Microsoft's board is leaning toward Ford Motor Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally or the current executive vice president of Microsoft's Cloud and Enterprise group, Satya Nadella, over other candidates for the position.

Outgoing Nokia CEO Elop and current Microsoft business development head Tony Bates are reported to be "in the mix" but "less likely" to be offered the position.

Elop left Microsoft to take charge of Finnish phone maker Nokia, presiding over a period in which the two companies became closely intertwined as Nokia adopted Microsoft's Windows Phone software. That close relationship culminated in Microsoft's decision to buy Nokia's mobile phone division in a $7.3 billion deal.

Microsoft is seeking a replacement for long-time boss Steve Ballmer, who announced in August that he would be stepping down. The company is set to waste no time in replacing the departing CEO, potentially naming a new boss before Christmas. Fingers crossed the new top dog is as colorful as Ballmer.

At the time of writing, Microsoft has not responded to request for comment.