John Thompson III
John Thompson III might get some good news on Wednesday. REUTERS

Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), the world's largest software developer, said it had elected John W. Thompson as lead independent director, succeeding Reed Hastings, who retired.

Thompson, 63, was CEO of Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC) for 10 years until 2009, after a long career at International Business Machines Corp. He's been a director of Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., since February.

Thompson is now head of private Virtual Instruments of San Jose, Calif., as well as a part-owner of the Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association. Hastings, 51, is CEO of Netflix as well as a director of Facebook (Nasdaq: FB). He'd served as a Microsoft director since 2006.

Under recent financial reforms, a company's lead independent director is responsible for all board matters. The director may not be a company employee.

Shares of Microsoft closed at $26.93, down 43 cents, in Thursday trading.