A few years ago, Microsoft rolled into town with its press team and product managers to announce the birth of a new product line, Profit, which supposedly was going to be a strong player in the small business accounting arena. But it was clear from the moment the product briefing began that mighty Microsoft had not done its homework. You could sense uncertainty in the room.

About eight years later, Microsoft’s Great Plains unit began talking about a product called "Blue," which would help the company go further downstream into the accounting market. This year, Small Business Manager emerged.

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