Microsoft, Intuit Merge Cloud Platforms

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Microsoft and Intuit on Wednesday said they will integrate their respective cloud platforms in an effort to encourage software developers to write new applications for the financial reporting software firm's QuickBooks software.

In addition to merging the cloud-based Intuit (NASDAQ: INTU) Partner Platform with the Windows Azure platform, Intuit will install Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) cloud-based productivity applications in the Intuit App Center for small businesses.

Windows Azure will be the "preferred platform" for small business cloud application development on the Intuit Partner Platform. Company officials said they expect the pact will spark development and distribution of new Web-based applications for small businesses.

"Intuit and Microsoft are trusted technology partners to small business," Walid Abu-Hadba, vice president of Microsoft's developer and platform evangelism group, said in a statement. "By combining the pooled technology assets of our developer communities, we stand to produce an outpouring of new applications to help small businesses enhance their competitive edge."

Company officials said the union will create a development community of more than 750,000 firms and channel partners.

Microsoft developers will now have access to Intuit's customer base, just ahead of the frenetic tax season, while Intuit developers will be able to use Microsoft's development cloud and tools to improve financial reporting applications.

In July, Intuit launched code.intuit.com, an open source developer community to build new Software-as-a-Service applications for small businesses on the Intuit Partner Platform.

The site offers early access to code, toolkits and documentation for the Intuit Partner Platform. By collaborating, sharing and improving platform components, developers can build their own businesses faster and leverage the existing library of applications and tools developed for the Intuit platform.

The strategy of increasing the pool of developers working on its platform is just one component of Intuit's aggressive strategy to build its brand through acquisitions and offer its most popular applications through the cloud.

Intuit in September shelled out $170 million in cash for Mint.com, an online provider of personal finance software applications.

Larry Barrett is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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