Steve Ballmer is leaving, and Microsoft isn't waiting around to find a replacement.

Reports are saying that Microsoft is aiming to have a new CEO by the end of the year, and get moving on a fresh start to 2014. Already, the team that has been chosen to find a new CEO—a team that includes Bill Gates—has already interviewed a handful of people from top companies. And they aren't just no name people: Microsoft allegedly has already spoken to Ford CEO Alan Mulally, ex-Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, former Microsoft exec Paul Maritz, and Microsoft's business development and evangelism chief, Tony Bates. Supposedly, Microsoft approached eBay CEO John Donahoe, but he declined. Word around the company is that there is an urgency to replace Ballmer, especially with the acquisition of Nokia that is supposed to close at the start of 2014, and the Xbox One getting ready to make its debut (which will be one of Microsoft's biggest sellers about the next decade.) Microsoft needs a new CEO in place to make sure they have a smooth transition when they bring over the employees from Nokia. 

Ballmer originally gave himself a timetable for 12 months to leave. Looks like he'll be leaving sooner than he expected. 

[via The Verge]