Ford CEO Alan Mulally has been floated as a leading candidate to succeed Steve Ballmer as Microsoft's chief executive. But Ford board member Edsel Ford II says Mulally will be sticking with the company through the end of 2014. That would seem to disqualify him from taking the reins at Microsoft, since the tech stalwart is looking to find a new CEO inside of a year. "Alan is staying through the end of 2014 and that’s all I know," said Ford II, who is the great-grandson of founder Henry Ford. Speaking to Bloomberg TV, he reiterated the point again later. “Frankly, he has told us that his plan is to stay with Ford through the end of 2014." Mulally himself has said the same though, though he's generally sidestepped questions on his future. Some have theorized that, if hired, Mulally would essentially serve as a "caretaker" CEO, tasked with getting Microsoft back on the right track before stepping aside for another, longer-term replacement.

Mulally, 68, has led Ford since 2006, and is credited with turning the company's fortunes around through the mid- to late-2000s as other American automakers were struggling to survive. He and departing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer share a close relationship, according to The Wall Street Journal. Ballmer reportedly sought Mulally's advice as he mapped out Microsoft's ambitious reorganization that the company announced over the summer.

We can't yet say that Mulally is out of the running for sure, but other top contenders include Microsoft executives Satya Nadella (vice president of Microsoft's Cloud and Enterprise group), Tony Bates (who formerly led Skype and is the preferred pick among Silicon Valley insiders, according to All Things D), and of course Stephen Elop, who is due to return to Microsoft as part of the Nokia acquisition.