Satya Nadella has been named as Microsoft's third chief executive officer, replacing the retiring Steve Ballmer at a time when the company is in the middle of a major transformation from software creator, to device manufacturer and service provider.

Not yet a household name like Bill Gates and his predecessor Steve Ballmer, Nadella is yet to lead a company from the top, but with 22 years of Microsoft experience under his belt and his most recent position seeing him lead the company's Cloud OS platform, Microsoft's board feel he is the man for the job.

Born in India in 1967, Satya Nadella was Microsoft's executive vice president for its Cloud and Enterprise division before becoming CEO. Nadella and his team delivered Microsoft's Cloud OS platform, on which the company's online services are built.

Working in this role, Nadella oversaw the running of Office 365, the Bing search engine, SkyDrive storage service, Xbox Live, Skype and Dynamics, making his contribution a key part of Microsoft's transformation from a software provider to a devices and services company.

Away from Microsoft, Nadella has been a director of networking company Riverbed Technology since March, 2013, is a director of BraveSolutions US, a waterproofing and corrosion control company, and also serves on the advisory board of sales commission company Nirvaha.

Education and early career

Nadella earned a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from Mangalore University, India, followed by a Master's degree in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin and a second Master's degree in Business Administration from the University of Chicago.

His career began as a member of technology staff at computer manufacturer Sun Microsystems, before joining Microsoft in 1992 as a programme manager in the Windows Developer Relations group

Nadella soon became senior vice president of Research and Development for the company's Online Services division, followed by a stint as the vice president of Microsoft Business Solutions. He then became president of the company's $19 billion (£11.6bn) Server and Tools Business, where he led Microsoft's transformation from providing software for clients' servers, to cloud-based infrastructure and services.

During his rise through the ranks at Microsoft's Redmond headquarters, Nadella founded and led Microsoft Central, the small business online services group; he was also general manager of the company's Commerce Platforms group and is considered responsible for leading the development of Microsoft's Commerce Server, BizTalk Server and Office Small Business departments.

Additionally, Nadella played a significant role in Microsoft's work in technologies such as digital rights management (DRM) and interactive television.

Sustained pressure from leaner rivals

Nadella takes over the reins at Microsoft at a pivotal moment in the company's history as it looks to reinvent itself under sustained pressure from leaner, faster-reacting rivals. He will have to hit the ground running if he is to ensure future updates to Windows and Windows Phone are a success, and the company's Surface tablet range can finally hold a candle to the iOS and Android competition.

Yet to work in Microsoft's mobile division, Nadella will no doubt call on the experience of Stephen Elop, the former Nokia CEO and Microsoft executive who returns to the company as part of its acquisition of the Finnish phone maker.

Microsoft's board will be expecting Nadella to stay for the long haul; he is only the company's third CEO in 38 years, and at 46 has age on his side.