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Microsoft CEO Ballmer Said to Discuss Exit in 2010

Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer has been contemplating his departure from the world’s largest software maker for at least three years.

Ballmer and the company’s board started discussing succession planning as early as 2010, said a person with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations were private. The conversations centered on what attributes Ballmer and other board members wanted in a new CEO. That led to Ballmer exposing internal CEO candidates to the board and also meeting with external candidates, said the person.