The letters stand for Microsoft Accounting Standards Board, which of course doesn't exist.

And it probably never will exist. But it's a way of thinking about what could happen if Microsoft could achieve the same dominance in accounting software that it achieved with desktop applications such as Word and Excel, leaving minimal market share for former heavyweights WordPerfect and 1-2-3.

If you think Microsoft can't influence what happens with accounting standards, consider the following: There are millions of Word users that are being influenced by Microsoft's view of grammar and spelling. In fact, they have far more exposure to it than they do to classroom education.

Moreover, as auditing and accounting become increasingly technology-based, don't standards become intrinsically linked to the software that is being used?

The idea here is to point out that if Microsoft became that powerful in accounting, which involves some other scenarios such as its entry into the Tier One financial market, that it would have power, even if it chose not to use it.

Microsoft, some would argue, only enables accounting standards, making the recording and analysis of numbers easier through such tools as XBRL. But technology changes process and culture, not just the mechanics of the existing systems.

It's true of other areas. Why shouldn't it be true of accounting?

Unlikely? So, it once seemed, was Microsoft's ability to take over the word processing, spreadsheet, and networking markets to the extent it has.

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