Growing up, there was this kid in my neighborhood, Gil,who, to be kind, was sort of athletically challenged.

Nevertheless, he was supremely confident that he couldbeat anyone in a contest of sports skill and win, whether it was half-courtbasketball, tennis, billiards or ping-pong.

In fact, he was so sure of his prowess, he often braggedhe was going to play either professional football or major league baseball.

Conservatively speaking, his won-loss record insuccessful sports challenges made the 1962 Mets look like the 2009 Yankees.

For those who may not remember, that 1962 team may wellhave fielded the most inept players in the history of the national pastime ontheir way to losing 120 games.

To his credit, Gil eventually saw the futility of hischosen career path, went to law school and irony of ironies, now represents anumber of athletes.

I regale you with this adolescent flashback because of arecent announcement regarding Microsoft and Intuit where the intense competitorshave joined together in an effort to persuade developers to use thetechnologies from both in order to create Web-based apps for small businessesthat run QuickBooks.

In essence, both plan to integrate the capabilities oftheir respective "cloud" platforms - Intuit's Partner Program and MS'Windows Azure Platform - for the above-mentioned developers as well as VARS todeliver solutions to SMB QB users.

Much like Gil, the folks up in Redmond must be growing abit weary of getting thumped by Intuit on a number of fronts, underscored bylast year's decision to stop sales of Office Accounting - Microsoft's five-yearGil-like exercise in trying to wrest market share in the low-end financialapplications market from QuickBooks.

When Small Business Accounting - its original name - wasfirst unveiled it was billed as a challenge to Intuit of epic proportions.Instead, it morphed into a boxing match between Woody Allen and George Foreman.

It didn't go so well for Microsoft about 15 years agoeither, when it waved around $1.5 billion to buy Intuit outright, only to havethe deal thwarted by the Justice Department on antitrust grounds. Add to that,Microsoft paid Intuit $46.25 million as a termination fee.

In June, the company also announced that it was soapingthe proverbial windows on its Microsoft Money product, its failed $1 billionchallenge to Intuit's Quicken.

Hopefully, Microsoft has learned some painful andexpensive lessons from entering market share battles that minds far brighterthan mine could have told them were unwinnable.

And how does that saying go, "If you can't beatthem...?

I once heard someone say, "Find out what you don'tdo well and then don't do it."

And if MS needs additional counseling on that front, I'dbe happy to forward them to Gil.





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