Sundar Pichai, the 42-year-old head executive for Google Chrome and Apps, is the "top choice" for the position of Microsoft CEO and negotiations with him are on in full swing, reported SiliconANGLE, a media website that focusses on the technology industry.
"Microsoft could really move the ball down the field with Sundar Pichai in creating a new open operating system model for cloud, mobile and social," Dave Vellante, chief analyst at Wikibon, was quoted as saying in the report.
"The market has been looking for a CEO who can balance the role of leading the enterprise transformation while keeping that consumer momentum with xBox and reboot mobile. Pichai is the total package of technology leadership and business acumen."
SiliconANGLE quoted sources close to the hiring team as saying that Pichai is the leading external candidate and is in discussions with the hiring committee.
Pichai is Senior Vice President for Android, Chrome and Apps at technology major Google. He has a Bachelor's degree in Technology from IIT-Kharagpur, holds an Master's degree from Stanford University and an MBA from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
SiliconANGLE reported he had been a "force driving Android integration" across Google and was rumoured to be in the running for leading jobs at Twitter. Google paid Pichai USD 50 million to stay with the firm, the report said.
Microsoft is expected to announce its new CEO, only the third in the company's 38-year history after co-founder Bill Gates and current chief Steve Ballmer, this week. The emergence of Pichai's name, pitted against another Indian for the top job at the world's leading technology company, appears unprecedented and reflects the growing number of India-born executives climbing corporate ladders globally.
The appointment of 46-year-old Nadella or Pichai would be a significant achievement for both, as they would join a circle of India-origin executives leading top global firms.
Indians at the helm include PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi, MasterCard President and CEO Ajay Banga and Deutsche Bank Co-CEO Anshu Jain.
Nadella appears most likely to be named successor to Ballmer, having emerged as a popular choice given his deeper engineering background compared to that of other internal candidates being considered for the top job.
Hyderabad-born Nadella is a longtime Microsoft executive who led the company's initiatives in cloud computing. He is a "popular choice partly because of his oversight of the enterprise software and cloud computing businesses at Microsoft, one of the strongest and fastest growing parts of the company", said a report in The New York Times.
Nadella has been getting a vote of approval by a number of advocates for change at Microsoft who believe the company's leader needs to have stronger technical expertise than Ballmer, whose background was in sales.
In addition to Nadella, Microsoft has held conversations with its top sales executive Kevin Turner and Tony Bates, who joined Microsoft through its acquisition of Skype.
Stephen Elop, the former Nokia CEO who said he would rejoin Microsoft once its purchase of Nokia's mobile business was complete, has also been considered for the job.