With Steve Ballmer slated to retire soon from the CEO post at Microsoft, there is plenty of conjecture about who will replace him. Whoever it is will certainly have the spotlight shining squarely upon them as they try to again re-align Microsoft to what the market will be going forward.

It will certainly be a tough job but you should never under estimate what Microsoft can do. Even though they are considered somewhat of a laggard when it comes to the new world of the web it must not be overlooked that they are still a profit generating powerhouse that continues to deliver record profits every month.

Microsoft has a very diverse portfolio of products from consumer items such as XBox all the way through to high end hosted database services like Azure. All of these need to be managed into the next generation as well as into greater web connectivity all the while battling various competitors looking to steal market share.

Rumours are that the number of candidates for the top job at Microsoft has been whittled down to but a handful of options, however that doesn’t stop the speculation about who will become the anointed one at Redmond. The smart money seems to be on Alan Mulally (currently at Ford) and Tony Bates (current VP at Microsoft) but this is just pure speculation.

Whoever get the top job they will most likely still feel the influence of board member Bill Gates, which is another point of contention for many on Wall Street. Whoever gets the job will also be under significant pressure to turn Microsoft around and move it towards the kind of acceptance that other tech firms such as Google and Apple currently enjoy.

With no word on when the new CEO will actually be announced we’ll all just have to wait and see firstly who gets the job and secondly what impact they make.