REDMOND, Wash. (AP) -- Microsoft expects to finish its search for CEO Steve Ballmer's replacement by early next year.
Board director John Thompson, who heads the company's executive search committee, said so in a blog post Tuesday.
Ballmer said in August he would retire within 12 months.
Thompson said the committee initially identified over 100 candidates, spoke with several dozen, whittled the group to 20 and then narrowed the list further. He said the company's full board has also been involved in the discussion.
He re-iterated Chairman Bill Gates' comments at the company's November shareholders meeting, saying the job involves running a complex business and requires someone to lead a "highly technical organization and work with top technical talent."