If Microsoft were to consider, hypothetically, getting back into the low-end accounting market, what kind of product should it build, Satya Nadella, the vp who heads product development for Microsoft Business Solutions, asked a year ago.

To miss that message would be like saying you can't hear elephants running on a metal roof. Hypothetically, I told him, I'd remember that the thing that end users like the most about QuickBooks, the dominant product, is the thing that accountants hate the most. End users like the flexibility and hate accounting.

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