The table is being set but it will take awhile. Microsoft and Intuit are getting ready for some major battles in the accounting marketplace. The jockeying began about a year ago.

In the case of Microsoft, it was when they acquired Great Plains. That acquisition reflected its decision that rather than developing accounting software application internally, it was better to purchase a major player and have an immediate impact and presence. Microsoft's recent announcement that it was now acquiring Navision was further evidence of this and indicates Microsoft's desire to adopt a similar approach in Europe, where Navision has the overwhelming bulk of its users.

In the case of Intuit, the jockeying was first seen when it instituted a program to encourage expansion into, and specialization, for vertical industries. It continued with the introduction of QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions Business Management Software

Last November, Intuit established its construction business solutions division through its purchase of OMware, a provider of business management solutions for construction companies. Then in the past week, it announced the acquisition of The Flagship Group, which is the holding company of American Fundware, a provider of accounting and business management software solutions for nonprofit organizations, universities, and individual government agencies. At that same time, Intuit acquired Fort Worth-based CBS Employer Services, the parent company of CBS Payroll, a full-service outsourced payroll company.

Microsoft is starting from the higher end of the marketplace and Intuit is working from the other end. But, make no mistake about it, they are both interested in developing or acquiring the necessary suite of products to service virtually all of the business community, whether by specific industry or by size of the business operations.

Of course, they still have a while to go to get all their ducks in order, but once they do, it will be fascinating to watch them slug it out.

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