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Microsoft CEO candidate Stephen Elop said to consider selling Xbox business, killing Bing

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Stephen Elop and his phones
Stephen Elop and his phones

Microsoft is currently searching for a new CEO to replace Steve Ballmer, who plans to retire within the next 10 months. Recent reports suggest the company has shortlisted Ford CEO Alan Mulally and former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop as external candidates. Mulally has stated he has no intentions to leave Ford, but a Bloomberg report claims that Elop has big plans if he’s made CEO. After a brief stint as the head of Microsoft’s business division, responsible for Office and other products, Elop’s return to Microsoft in the CEO position would reportedly involve a push for Office on Android and iOS.

Elop is reportedly considering a strategy shift away from Microsoft’s tradition of Office running primarily on Windows PCs. Bloomberg reports that Elop is formulating "some broad strategic outlines for Microsoft," in what is likely to be part of the interview process for the CEO position. Elop’s potential strategy is said to involve maximizing sales of Office instead of using it to push Windows PC and tablet sales. Microsoft’s Office and server software has been performing well in recent financial results, while Windows continues to struggle alongside a declining PC industry. Although Office has launched for iOS and Android, Microsoft could certainly do more to offer complete versions on those rival platforms.

Elop could kill Bing and sell Xbox if he's made CEO

Bloomberg also suggests that Elop is willing to shut down or sell some major Microsoft businesses. Elop would reportedly considering killing off the company’s Bing search engine, while contemplating selling the Xbox business. Some investors and analysts have previously called for the software giant to split off its Xbox business and give up on search. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen appears to feel the same way. Allen’s $15-billion asset manager, Paul Ghaffari, revealed recently that Bing and Xbox have been distractions for Microsoft. "My view is there are some parts of that operation they should probably spin out, get rid of, to focus on the enterprise and focus on the cloud." Nomura analyst Rick Sherlund claims Microsoft’s financial earnings could be boosted by 40 percent in fiscal 2015 if the company sold its Bing and Xbox businesses.

Any sale of Bing or Xbox seems unlikely, despite continued suggestions over the years. Microsoft is moving to integrate its search engine experience directly into Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone, and the company is just weeks away from launching its next-generation Xbox One console. Bing also powers a number of Xbox search and app features. Either way, Microsoft’s CEO search appears to be progressing, with some suggesting the company may name a Ballmer successor by the end of the year.