Microsoft is set to choose and name its new CEO in early 2014 after narrowing down its list of candidates.
Microsoft board member John Thompson revealed the computing giant had talked with over 100 possible candidates for the role, and had spoken with several dozen of them.
The group of potential new CEOs has now been reduced to 20. Thompson said he expects the board and search committee to choose the new Microsoft CEO in the early part of 2014.
Leading contenders for the role are thought to include ex-Sky CTO Tony Bates, former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop and Microsoft cloud and enterprise boss Satya Nadella.
Microsoft has been on the hunt for a new person to lead the company after Steve Ballmer announced his decision to retire earlier this year.
In its 38-year history, the company has only had two CEOs.