No Microsoft for him! Mulally says he’s staying put at Ford

The pool of Microsoft(s msft) CEO candidates got a little smaller Tuesday when Ford(s f) CEO Alan Mulally told the Associated Press he’s staying where he is at least till the end of 2014. Microsoft’s board has said it wants a successor to outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer in place well before that.

“I would like to end the Microsoft speculation because I have no other plans to do anything other than serve Ford,” Mulally told the AP. He added: “You don’t have to worry about me leaving.”

He did not say whether he’d discussed the CEO opening with Microsoft, but it’s been increasingly clear that talk of his leaving had become a big distraction at Ford. Bryce Hoffman, who wrote a book about Mulally’s turnaround of the auto company, told me that at a recent unveiling of the new Mustang models, there were more questions about Mulally’s job plans than about the car itself. That can’t be good.

Other, apparently still-standing candidates for CEO include Microsoft execs Satya Nadella and Stephen Elop.