Microsoft announced Satya Nadella as its next CEO today, ending a six-month search since former CEO Steve Ballmer announced his retirement in August.
Nadella will take over as CEO immediately, allowing outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer to retire early. Ballmer announced the news in an internal e-mail to the company. As previously reported, Bill Gates will also step down as chairman of the board, to move into the new role of founder and technology advisor. Independent director John Thompson will take over as chairman.
“Satya Nadella is the one in the mix that brings the most deep technical experience as well as broad market vision to the table,” said Gartner analyst David Cearley. “If someone were to head Microsoft that would be a new Bill Gates or Steve Jobs type of person, it would be Satya Nadella.”
Nadella emerged from a field of candidates initially numbering more than 40, which was eventually whittled down to a shortlist including a handful of external and internal candidates. As high-profile outsiders like Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg bowed out, it became a race among former Nokia CEO and current Microsoft executive VP Stephen Elop, Microsoft COO Kevin Turner, Skype head Tony Bates, and Nadella. 
In an e-mail to employees, Nadella looked toward Microsoft’s future in mobile and cloud technology.
“While we have seen great success, we are hungry to do more,” he wrote. “Our industry does not respect tradition—it only respects innovation. This is a critical time for the industry and for Microsoft. Make no mistake, we are headed for greater places—as technology evolves and we evolve with and ahead of it. Our job is to ensure that Microsoft thrives in a mobile and cloud-first world.”
Microsoft’s cloud guru, until now the CEO of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group, has been with the company since 1992. After leaving the technology staff at Sun Microsystems, Nadella moved around various Microsoft divisions. He started as a program manager in the Windows Developer Relations group, and then moved on to senior VP of research and development for the Online Services Division and the Microsoft Business Division.
After that, Ballmer tasked him with growing the Bing search engine, and starting in 2011 he served as president of Microsoft’s US$19 billion Server and Tools Business until July 2013, leading the transformation from client-side software to cloud infrastructure and services. He was integral in migrating Windows Server, SQL Server, and developer tools such as Visual Studio to the Windows Azure cloud.
As the cloud and enterprise chief, he’s been responsible for building and running Microsoft’s computing platforms, developer tools and cloud services. As the man in charge of the “Cloud OS” back-end platform for public, private and service provider clouds, he’s scaled Microsoft services such as Office 365, Bing, OneDrive (previously SkyDrive) and Xbox Live for cloud infrastructure.
Cloud revenue grew to $20.3 billion in the last fiscal year, up from $16.6 billion when Nadella took over in 2011. Microsoft’s fiscal second-quarter results reported on Jan. 23 showed a 107% growth in commercial cloud services revenue from a year ago. 
Nadella, 47, was born in Hyderabad, India and received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Mangalore University. Upon moving to the United States, he earned a master’s degree in computer science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Chicago. 
For more information, read the official Microsoft press release.