If Ford’s CEO takes on Microsoft’s top job and engineers a dramatic comeback, his reputation as a corporate life saver would be set.

We’ve already heard that Ford CEO Alan Mulally is a contender to be Microsoft’s new CEO. Now All Things D has anointed him the front runner — despite the pretty categorical denial he issued a few weeks back. At about the same time, Reuters reported that the Ford board was open to Mulally leaving sooner than 2014, as previously planned.

As GigaOM has reported, there’s a lot to recommend Mulally for this post. His family remains in the Seattle area — he was formerly CEO of Boeing, when it was headquartered there. And, Ford and Microsoft have long been aligned as business partners — Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s father was a Ford exec.

And, if Mulally, who is credited with turning around Boeing and then Ford, could add a Microsoft revival to his credits, he would go down in history as a three-time corporate savior.

Former Skype chief and current Microsoft business development chief Tony Bates is also a top contender, as is former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop.

This firestorm of speculation ignited in late August after Ballmer announced that he would step down as Microsoft CEO within the next 12 months.

Photo courtesy ofd by Michigan Municipal League (MML)

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