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said Thursday it has agreed to acquire

Great Plains Software


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, a supplier of mid-market business applications, for about $1.1 billion in stock.

The software bellwether said the deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, calls for each share of Great Plains common stock to be exchanged for 1.1 shares of Microsoft common stock.

Microsoft said the Fargo, N.D.-based Great Plains will become Microsoft's Great Plains Division and will contribute applications that complement Microsoft's online service for small companies, bCentral, as well as a system of business applications built on Microsoft's Internet-based .NET platform.

Shares of Microsoft were lately down 50 cents, or 1.21%, to $40.94, while shares of Great Plains were unchanged at yesterday's closing price of $35.31 on the