Microsoft’s new CEO search has continued into 2014, but a new rumor suggests that outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer is planning to step down from Microsoft’s board of directors. Citing "people familiar with the situation," Recode reports that Ballmer won’t be directly involved with Microsoft’s board once a suitable CEO replacement is found. While Ford’s Alan Mulally ruled himself out of the position earlier this month, recent reports suggest Microsoft is also considering Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg as a potential Ballmer successor.

If Recode’s report is accurate, and Ballmer is planning to step away from Microsoft entirely, then it marks an even bigger shift for the 57-year-old who has spent the majority of his life at the software giant. As an "outsider," Ballmer would still hold around 4 percent of all Microsoft stock — similar to Bill Gates’ own holdings — but he wouldn’t be directly involved in board decisions as the company looks to transform and focus on devices and services. It would also mean Ballmer wouldn't be directly involved in any potential board discussions around changes to his "One Microsoft" strategy under a new CEO.

Bill Gates may become more active at Microsoft

Recode also reports that Microsoft chairman Bill Gates is likely to remain more active at the company, depending on the new CEO choice. Gates has reportedly maintained a more active presence at Microsoft’s campus in Seattle, and that may continue if he's allowed to guide the new CEO forward over the coming months. It’s still not clear when Microsoft plans to name its future CEO, or who will be picked for the top job. Current speculation continues to center around Microsoft cloud and enterprise boss Satya Nadella and former Skype president Tony Bates, as well as former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop.