Microsoft, Intuit Partner for Cloud-Based Apps

Microsoft and Intuit are launching a Windows Azure SDK for Intuit Partner Platform, opening a way for developers to create applications for small and midsize businesses that rely on Intuit's QuickBooks financial software. Intuit has named Windows Azure the preferred platform for SMB cloud-based application development on its platform. Microsoft has been making forays into the cloud, embracing the computing trend despite its traditional reliance on a desktop and on-premises software model.

Microsoft and Intuit are planning to integrate the capabilities of their cloud services platforms, giving developers the chance to develop applications for small and midsize businesses that use QuickBooks financial software. Customers would be able to access the applications via the cloud-based Intuit App Center.

Intuit has named Windows Azure the "preferred platform" for SMB cloud-based application development on the Intuit Partner Platform, in theory giving Intuit's developer community access to a variety of Microsoft-built tools. The beta of the Windows Azure SDK (software development kit) for Intuit Partner Platform is available for downloading from this site. The SDK will be offered to developers for free.

"By combining the pooled technology assets of our developer communities," Walid Abu-Hadba, Microsoft corporate vice president of the Developer & Platform Evangelism organization, said in a Jan. 21 statement, "we stand to produce an outpouring of new applications to help small businesses enhance their competitive edge."

Later in 2010, Microsoft also plans to sell a variety of online services, including Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Office Live Meeting and Office Communications Online, through the Intuit App Center.

"The Intuit App Center is a huge breakthrough," Bill Lucchini, vice president and general manager of Intuit's Platform as a Service Group, said in a Jan. 21 statement. "Now, Microsoft developers can enhance their businesses with access to the small business channel, the Intuit App Center will get stronger and small businesses will reap the rewards of all this innovation."

Microsoft has been experimenting with cloud-computing platforms aimed at a variety of different audiences, although the full results of those efforts may not be known for several years. One of the mainstays of this effort, Windows Azure, consists of three parts: Windows Azure, an operating system as a service; SQL Azure, a cloud-based relational database; and .NET Services, which provide both secure connectivity and federated access control for applications.

Jan. 1 marked the full switch-on of the Azure cloud platform for enterprises. By February 2010, users will have to pay for Azure's services via a pay-as-you go model, a subscription format or volume licensing.