With roughly nine months to go until Microsoft's unforgettably demonstrative CEO Steve Ballmer steps down, the hunt is on for his replacement. Will it be incoming Nokia CEO Stephen Elop? Maybe Ford's Alan Mullaly? No one outside of Microsoft's board of directors knows for sure, but it apparently won't be too long before we find out. "I expect we'll complete our work in the early part of 2014," board chair John W. Thompson wrote on Microsoft's blog.

Thompson said he and his colleagues have whittled down the list from "over 100 possible candidates" to "a group of about 20 individuals" (presumably including the aforementioned exec duo). He sadly didn't offer much insight into the discussions, which we can only guess involved both a very large dart board and (at least) a few bottles of carbonated mineral water.