The clock is ticking for Microsoft, with the company now having 12 months to find a successor to Steve Ballmer - and TechRadar has a few suggestions.

Ranging from the obvious to the unlikely, we've come up with some of the people that we feel can take the juggernaut in a new direction, shaking off the hurt of recent failures and embracing all that is good about Microsoft.

And there's plenty for anyone taking the role on to be positive about - Windows 8 may not have been a stellar success, but the company is still dominant in the computing OS world and, although it was slow to embrace online, its recent offerings have shown promise.

1. Sir Jony Ive

Jony Ive
Jony Ive

Why he would be good: As one of the very few rock stars of the tech world, Ive would bring a new focus on design to Microsoft and immediately send out a message that this is not the stodgy old stalwart of old. He's worked with Steve Jobs so he knows that being a perfectionist is a valid way of leading a company and he understands that emotion is important to our devices.

Why he wouldn't: Ive seems to shy away from the spotlight, and there are few higher profile roles in the tech world. He also seems to be content to lead design, rather than become the chief bean counter. Last, but not least, it seems highly unlikely that he'd leave the Apple world that dotes on his every design.

2. Steve Sinofsky

Steven Sinofsky
Steven Sinofsky

Why he would be good: Sinofsky made a high profile exit from Microsoft after the (fairly dreadful) launch of Surface and Windows 8. Talk of him not being a team-player may serve as a negative, but nobody would have accused Gates or Jobs of playing nicely with others either. His last couple of big projects for MS were far from great, but he has a track record of brilliance and he's a dynamic character who would provide a clear vision of what is needed.

Why he wouldn't: Microsoft's silos have been hugely detrimental for the company in recent years, and Sinofsky's offski was apparently a lot to do with a new holistic approach. A divisive character, Sinofsky is capable of being incredibly charming, but can he bring Microsoft's still-disparate teams together? Also, is it possible to forget the mess that was Surface? We think not.

3. Robbie Bach

Why he would be good: Bach retired slightly mysteriously in his late 40s despite being one of the true stars at Microsoft. His Windows Mobile record might have blotted his copybook, but this was a man who, along with J Allard, became most associated with the Xbox success at the company and his 'Project Natal' Kinect was a massive hit for Microsoft. Young, popular and with a strong background (president of EA Studio worldwide), Bach would be a fine choice for Microsoft.

Why he wouldn't: He's been quiet in tech since leaving in 2010, although he is on the board of Sonos. It remains to be seen if he left under an internal cloud or whether he is still in possession of enough personal equity to get the nod from the board.

4. Bill Gates

Bill Gates

Why he would be good: Given the impact that Jobs made when coming back to Apple in a blaze of glory, what better man to rejuvenate Microsoft than the man who made it great in the first place. Now spending most of his time running the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (working to cure malaria), Gates is still involved and knows the company backwards - and he remains a name in tech that commands respect from both within the Redmond giant and from outside too.