The five-month-long search for the next CEO of software giant Microsoft, which threw up possible candidates such as Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Qualcomm CEO-elect Steve Mollenkopf, is finally drawing to a close.

At the heart of the succession race are two names that have caused a flutter among the Indian and NRI techie community — Hyderabad-born Satya Nadella and Chennai-born Sundar Pichai.

Mr. Nadella, who has been with Microsoft for the last 20 years and is known for his innovative work on the company’s growing server and tools business, has been all but crowned by the international media and is said to be the more likely candidate. A 46-year-old, who studied electrical engineering at the Manipal Institute of Technology, Mr. Nadella has led efforts that include Microsoft’s Bing search engine, its SQL Server database and a cloud service called Azure.

Sundar Pichai, who joined Google in 2004 and is the head of Google Chrome, operating system Android and applications like Gmail, was thrown into the CEO search mix on Friday after little-known technology publication SiliconAngle said that Microsoft was actively in negotiations with Mr. Pichai.

“We have confirmed that Mr. Pichai is the top choice for the CEO position of Microsoft according to sources,” the blog said. Mr. Pichai’s name at this point is still speculation, and even among the technology community, he is currently seen as an inspiring but unlikely choice.

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