Microsoft has used its might, clout and smarts to take on any number of products and services - the browser, the operating system, the portable music player, to name just three - with varying degrees of success.

Now, Microsoft is taking solid aim at a business that is arguably outside its core competence: advertising. And it is deliberately facing off against a specialist, Google.

The general in charge of part of Microsoft?s assault, Brian McAndrews, joined the company just last month and is still learning its way of doing things. But he does know the Internet ad business, having run aQuantive, the advertising company that Microsoft acquired for $6 billion last month.

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