A special committee composed of several Microsoft board members is conducting the CEO search. Headed by John Thompson, the board's lead independent director, the committee also includes Bill Gates, the company's co-founder and chairman of the board.
Microsoft has said virtually nothing about its search for a new leader other than to maintain that the process continues. Nor has it set a deadline more specific than the 12 months that Ballmer noted when he announced he would retire.
Many analysts believe that the company's long search span, or the fact it had no immediate replacement for Ballmer in August, showed it lacked a clear succession plan, and that contrary to its assertions, Ballmer's exit was not only unexpected but also probably forced upon him to some degree.
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