Microsoft makes a major push in business market

Microsoft is making a major push into the business software market in an attempt to steal market share from rivals like SAP and Oracle.

The company will launch enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, which will accessible from the cloud, an area that Microsoft is also focusing on. The ERP software will be Microsoft's flagship business product.

The company's CEO, Steve Ballmer, told Reuters he reckons, "the opportunities to make a good business economically are wonderful” and that Microsft is “pumped up” to tackle its latest challenge.

Currently Microsoft is in fifth place in the ERP market, behind SAP, Oracle, Sage and Infor Global Solutions. Ballmer expects Microsoft to outgrow SAP and Oracle and said that he'd be “disappointed” if this didn't happen. That would put Microsoft in the coveted top position.

In terms of the customer relationship management (CRM) market, Microsoft is in fourth place, behind SAP, Oracle and Salesforce.com. The cloud was a big threat to Microsoft's installed software empire, but the company is willing to embrace the cloud with its Azure platform, which will keep the company viable in the business field.

Microsoft made roughly $1.7 billion from ERP and CRM software last year, according to Gartner figures. That's a tiny amount of the $62 billion it brought in over 2010 and an equally small proportion of the $19 billion it earned from its business division.

If Microsoft can jump into the lead position for both of these software offerings then it could secure itself billions of dollars more on a yearly basis. However, it's unlikely that its rivals will let it race by without a fight.