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(Pocket-lint) - Steve Ballmer is set to retire from Microsoft in 2014 after 14 years of holding the top spot, so naturally many have wondered who could possibly replace the company's goofy chief executive officer.

Well, news has now emerged that points to Alan Mulally, CEO at Ford Motor Company. He's apparently in the lead to succeed, according to a new report by AllThingsD. The website cited several unnamed sources and emphasised that Mulally has not entered formal negotiations yet, but discussions with him at Microsoft have been "serious".


Mulally is allegedly getting used to the idea of taking over, though at first he wasn't so keen. He purportedly owns a house in Seattle, which is near to Microsoft's headquarters, as he once lived there while serving as Boeing Commercial Airplanes' CEO and has often thought about returning to the city.

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Ford's CEO also has strong and influential ties to Microsoft" he advised Ballmer on the company's recent internal restructure. But despite his qualifications, Mulally does have some competition for the gig. Nokia's Stephen Elop was once considered a possible replacement for Ballmer. He arrived at Microsoft through the multibillion-dollar acquisition of Nokia. Microsoft has also looked in-house, with executive Tony Bates's name often popping up. He was the CEO of Skype before its Microsoft acquisition.

As for the final bit of proof regarding who could be Microsoft's next CEO, all source information aside, AllThingsD's Kara Swisher noted that Mulally hasn't responded to her emails or answered questions. That's unusual, because he is one of her "favourite CEOs", as he typically gets back to her on the record.

Writing by Elyse Betters.