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Hyderabad-born Satya Nadella named Microsoft CEO

The search is finally over. Software giant Microsoft has named Hyderabad-born Satya Nadella as its new CEO to replace Steve Ballmer, making him perhaps the most powerful Indian-born tech executive in the world.

Nadella, 46, who was said to be in the race for the top job with another Indian American, Chennai-born Sundar Pichai, a senior vice president at Google, took over immediately to allow Ballmer to retire early.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates, meanwhile, is moving to a new role as technology adviser with John Thompson, Microsoft board member and former Symantec CEO, assuming the role of chairman, the software giant announced.

"There is no better person to lead Microsoft than Satya Nadella," said Gates in a prepared statement. "Satya is a proven leader with hard-core engineering skills, business vision, and the ability to bring people together."

"His vision for how technology will be used and experienced around the world is exactly what Microsoft needs as the company enters its next chapter of expanded product innovation and growth."

Nadella's naming to the post, effective immediately, makes him the third CEO since the Redmond, Washington company was founded in 1975.

"The one thing that I would say that defines me is I love to learn," Nadella told Time in his first interview as Microsoft's chief. "I get excited about new things. I buy more books than I read or finish."

"Today is a very humbling day for me," said Nadella, a 22-year veteran of Microsoft who currently heads the company's Cloud and Enterprise group, in an internal memo to Microsoft employees.

"It is an incredible honour for me to lead and serve this great company of ours," he wrote outlining why he has stayed on at Microsoft. "While we have seen great success, we are hungry to do more."

"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."

In choosing Nadella, "Microsoft has turned to a highly accomplished executive in the mould of Gates, who reportedly held out for a candidate with sufficient technical gravitas to inspire -- and if need be, change -- Microsoft's engineer-driven corporate culture," wrote CNet, a technology site.

"At the still relatively young age of 46, Nadella oversaw one of Microsoft's fastest-growing divisions -- the Cloud and Enterprise Group -- which accounted for $20.3 billion in revenue and $8.2 billion in operating income during the company's last fiscal year," it noted.

Nadella, who grew up in Hyderabad, attended Hyderabad Public School in Begumpet before getting a Bachelor of Engineering in Electronics and Communication from the Manipal University.

After moving to the US, he earned a Master of Science degree in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Chicago.

Prior to Microsoft, he worked at Sun Microsystems, now owned by Oracle.