Nearly four months after Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer announced he would retire, Microsoft has finally given an official update on its search for a replacement.

John W. Thompson, a member of Microsoft’s board of directors, wrote on The Official Microsoft Blog Tuesday that Microsoft has narrowed the pool from 100 candidates to 20 and expects to have a decision in early 2014.

“The Board has taken the thoughtful approach that our shareholders, customers, partners and employees expect and deserve,” Thompson said. “After defining our criteria, we initially cast a wide net across a number of different industries and skill sets. We identified over 100 possible candidates, talked with several dozen, and then focused our energy intensely on a group of about 20 individuals, all extremely impressive in their own right.”

Thompson also said that the board of directors was given the update by Bill Gates at the most recent shareholder meeting. Gates reportedly noted that the complex business model of Microsoft makes finding a new CEO a difficult task. In 38 years, Gates and Ballmer have been the only two CEOs of Microsoft.

After Ballmer’s announcement, the International Business Times published a list of 20 potential candidates for the role of future CEO of Microsoft. One of them, Stephen Elop, has reportedly said that if he were to get the job, he would make big changes at Microsoft by moving away from Windows, selling Xbox and killing off Bing to focus on the Microsoft Office suite of software.