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Reality Check: 3 Big-Name Ballmer Replacement Candidates

Gates, Elop and Sinofsky have all been floated out as possibilities. We look at why they might or might not happen.

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Ballmer185Longtime CEO Steve Ballmer is retiring from Microsoft (MSFT), and while there’s plenty to be said about the timing, what it means for MSFT’s future and what Ballmer’s legacy ultimately will be, the more immediate question is “Who’s next?”

Microsoft’s board has its work cut out for it, and has a number of questions to ask. Insider or outsider? PC expert or mobile visionary? Marketing guru who can channel Ballmer’s infamous fist-pumping style to fire up the faithful, or a methodical, reserved engineer/operations person like Apple’s Tim Cook?

The list of candidates keeps growing, but since we’re still firmly in the territory of speculation here, let’s look at three marquee names that would represent the kind of drama that makes tech analysts and investors alike drool.

All are former Microsoft executives, but that’s about all the trio has in common:

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