Nearly six months ago, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced that within the coming year, he would be stepping down from his position after 13 years at the head of one of the largest tech companies in the world. Ever since it was confirmed that Ballmer would be leaving, the search has been on for his replacement. Now a new report suggests that Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg is in the running.

Vestberg is reportedly among a handful of candidates that Microsoft is seriously considering, according to sources speaking with Bloomberg. Since late 2013, the list of candidates has not gone through any significant changes, yet this is the first time that Vestberg's name has been thrown into the pool of potential CEOs.

Another Option

There are aspects of Vestberg that may make him a viable option, since he does have a lot of knowledge when it comes to the smartphone industry. However, many analysts still feel that Microsoft will end up looking internally for its next CEO instead of trying to take someone away from another large company.

Vestberg has been working for Ericsson for 25 years and has been CEO of the Sweden-based company since 2010. During that time, he spearheaded the end of the 10-year-long partnership with Sony under the Sony Ericsson brand. Sony Ericsson had focused on hardware in the smartphone industry but after the joint venture ended, Ericsson turned its attention to providing services for other phone companies.

An Important Search

Choosing a new CEO is not something that Microsoft can do without carefully examining every aspect of a candidate's background, and in a time where its primary software business Relevant Products/Services is struggling, Microsoft needs someone that can turn the company around.

We reached out to Microsoft to see what it had to say about Hans Vestberg as a potential CEO, but little information was provided. "Out of respect for the process and the potential candidates, we don’t comment on individual names.” said a Microsoft spokesperson. So far, industry observers say Microsoft cloud Relevant Products/Services-computing chief Satya Nadella remains near the top of the candidate list.

Outside of Nadella, the talk is that Ford CEO Alan Mulally remains on the list despite Ford's statements suggesting that Mulally has no plans to leave the company. Microsoft has already confirmed that the list, which started with nearly 100 candidates, has been whittled down to just a few, but it has refused to release the names of any of the candidates.

Microsoft’s lead independent director John Thompson has been placed in charge of the CEO search and according to a December blog post, the company is set to choose a replacement for Ballmer in the “early part of 2014.”