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Elop Reportedly Mulls Big Changes at Microsoft If He Gets CEO Job

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stephen Elop, reportedly one of the five finalists to be the next Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report) CEO, might be preparing to make a number of bold moves as soon as he gets the job.

According to a Bloomberg report "three people with knowledge of his thinking" said if Elop becomes CEO he'd consider selling the Xbox gaming business and shuttering the company's Bing search engine division.

According to those sources, Elop would switch gears from the company's current hardware focus back to software. He would make push to make Microsoft Office -- including Excel, Word and PowerPoint -- the prime productivity too for other platforms and products including Google  (GOOG) Android and Apple (AAPL) iOS smartphones and tablets.

Although Bloomberg was somewhat vague about exactly where its information came from, Elop's ideas concerning Xbox and Bing are not so far-fetched. Checking Elop's past history makes it clear that decisive, bold moves are part of his business DNA.

Elop's years as a consultant at Lotus and his job running Boston Chicken/Market gave him great insight into what worked at those companies and especially what didn't. Boston Chicken filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1998 before Elop left for Macromedia.

He worked in a number of positions at Macromedia before ascending to the CEO job. His first move was to sell the company to Adobe (ADBE) and get a job there for himself in the process. It took just three months to make that deal.

After Adobe, he spent a year at  Juniper Networks (JNPR) before landing a position at Microsoft. As head of the business division he oversaw a number of products including Microsoft Office software and served as part of the Microsoft senior leadership team.

During his tenure, Elop inked a deal for Microsoft to make a version of its Office software available to run on Nokia's (NOK - Get Report) then current phones. That move made him known to Nokia executives.

In September 2010, Elop was chosen as CEO of Nokia. His first move was to kill the company's long-time smartphone software platform. The then-ancient Symbian had been slowly morphing into a new and improved operating system called MeeGo. But Elop didn't like it and didn't want to spend more money developing it. He sent a now infamous internal email titled "Burning Platform" and explained why he was pulling the plug.

In its place he chose -- wait for it -- Microsoft's Windows Phone platform rejecting Google's Android OS which other manufacturers had warmly embraced. At the time critics began calling him a "Trojan horse" -- someone hired by one company to prepare for a future sellout to another company.

After many attempts at a deal, Elop finally engineered Nokia's mobile phone business sale to Microsoft in May. As part of the deal Elop returns to Microsoft as vice president of devices and services, which includes the company's struggling Surface tablets business.

During his tenure at Nokia, Elop cut 40,000 jobs worldwide and reduced operating expenses by 50%. If Elop gets the Microsoft job its expected he would make cuts there as well.

Others rumored to be in the running for the Microsoft top post include Tony Bates (currently Microsoft business development boss), Satya Nadella (executive VP of Microsoft's cloud division), Computer Science (CSC) CEO Mike Lawrie and Ford (F) boss Alan Mulally.

Current Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced he would retire by September 2014. The board's search committee headed by Microsoft founder Bill Gates could announce its candidate by the end of this year.

Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

To submit a news tip, send an email to tips@thestreet.com.

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