Speaking to a conference of small technology partners Sunday, Microsoft Corp. chief executive Steve Ballmer said that his company will continue to expand its small business software lines for a variety of industries, beginning with accounting.

The niche marketplace for small business applications, where many companies have thrived writing industry- and even company-specific software, will face Microsoft's first major entry this fall, when Microsoft's Small Business Accounting is launched. The software will compete with other accounting programs such as Intuit Inc.'s QuickBooks.

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