Microsoft has yet to make much of a dent in Intuit’s QuickBooks with its Office Small Business Accounting 2006 and while we knew that the next version was being renamed to Office Accounting 2007, it turns out that Microsoft had more cards up their sleeve as they revealed today:
Microsoft Corp. today announced the availability of Microsoft® Office Accounting Express 2007, financial management software designed for early startups and home-based businesses that currently use pen and calculator or spreadsheets to run their operations. Office Accounting Express 2007 consists of desktop software available as a free download and seven integrated online services.
The Office Accounting Express 2007 software will be available for free while third-party integrated premium online services are available for additional fees. Together, the software and services will enable businesses to harness the power of the Internet to sell products online, send invoices and receive payments electronically, process payroll, run credit reports, work with their accountant, and more — all from within their accounting application.
Office Accounting Express 2007 software will be available on http://www.ideawins.com. IdeaWins is a campaign highlighting how Office Accounting Express 2007 can help small businesses take the hassle out of financial and business management so they can spend more time making their ideas a reality.
For the small business that needs more than the free version offers:
Microsoft also announced that it will introduce Microsoft Office Accounting Professional 2007, the successor to Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting 2006. This is a comprehensive business management solution for small businesses with more complex needs such as inventory management, multicurrency invoicing, multiuser access and fixed asset management. In early 2007, Office Accounting Professional will be available in retail stores for an estimated retail price of $149. Until then, a trial version will be available.
Microsoft Office Accounting Professional 2007 will provide additional features, such as business dashboard, cash flow management tool, purchase and sales orders, job costing, a wider variety of financial reports, and the ability to connect to Microsoft Dynamics™ Point-of-Sale.
In addition, Office Accounting Professional 2007 will enhance business efficiency by allowing multiple people within an organization to access and work with relevant financial information based on each person’s role in the accounting process.
There’s also a press Q&A, but head on over to the IdeaWins website for a FAQ which includes this comparison of features between the two versions. Both feature substantial Office integration, but I have to observe that the Office Live integration is mostly to permit sharing of data with an accountant, but there are other online services from 3rd parties. The current users of Office Small Business Accounting 2006 can buy a version upgrade to the Office Accounting Pro version for an estimated $99. Of course, either version is considerably cheaper than Intuit’s QuickBooks, but the question is whether that will finally get Microsoft some traction in this market.
Update: Mario Morejon at CRN provides a glowing review of this pair. One interesting aspect:
Microsoft combined both products into a single install, so users only need to add a key to activate the Professional trial version. … Express users will be able to activate the full Professional version as well from their install without having to download new software.
Microsoft on Monday released a public beta of the next version of its small business accounting software, adding useful integration with the popular online selling, payment, and credit advisory services eBay, PayPal, and Equifax. You can download the beta of Microsoft Office Accounting 2007 from Microsoft’s site. Be prepared to wait, even if you’re on broadband, and don’t bother if you’re on dial-up: It’s a 370MB file.
The program has undergone numerous modifications, including a name change, since its formal debut last year as Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting 2006. I took a look at the beta before it was released.
Hit the link for the beta review, but the integration with online services seems to be rather slick. No word on the final release date.
As part of its long-term commitment to help small businesses reach their full potential, Microsoft Corp. today introduced one year of free, unlimited support and savings for customers who purchase Microsoft® Office Small Business Accounting 2006 full package product at participating retailers in the U.S. This special offer makes it easier than ever for small-business owners to replace their old books with confidence — whether pen and paper, Microsoft Office Excel®, or QuickBooks accounting system — with Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting 2006, a financial management program that has the familiar look and feel of Microsoft Office.
As part of this special offer, the one year of free, unlimited personal support begins the day of product registration and includes — but is not limited to — assistance with installation, product functionality, technical questions and migration tools. In addition, when advertised from today through April 30, 2006, customers can receive up to $100 in savings off the retail price of Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting 2006 at the following participating retailers: Best Buy, CompUSA, Office Depot, Staples and OfficeMax. At the same time, hardware partner Dell Inc. is shipping Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting 2006 and Microsoft Office Small Business Management Edition 2006 on select Dell small-business computers, including Dimension and Optiplex desktop PCs and Latitude notebooks. Dell will offer promotional pricing and related offers online at http://www.dell.com/sba and over the phone. Further, in conjunction with this promotion, Microsoft is offering accounting professionals a Small Business Accounting Starter Kit with the tools they need to assist clients that are looking to make the switch from their old books. Additional details on all aspects of the promotion can be found online at http://www.officesmallbusinessaccounting.com.
SBA was selling for as little as $49 (after rebates) at CompUSA according to Ina Fried at CNET who provides some background:
Introduced last September, Microsoft’s Small Business Accounting 2006 is Microsoft challenge to several well-entrenched competitors, including Intuit’s QuickBooks and Peachtree’s set of accounting tools.
However, analysts say that Microsoft has yet to make much of a dent in the market. According to NPD, which tracks retail sales, Intuit’s QuickBooks accounted for 93.7 percent of November retail sales, and Peachtree had 4.5 percent. Microsoft had just 1.3 percent of retail sales for the month.
“I think Intuit is probably breathing a sigh of relief,” said NPD analyst Chris Swenson. However, he said he doesn’t expect Microsoft to give up. “They tend to come out with a product, figure out where its weak and improve upon it.
Raikes said that sales have met expectations, but Microsoft did not give a specific sales figure. Microsoft expects the price cut and accompanying marketing to cost roughly $10 million, on top of the $100 million that the company has already spent developing and marketing the software.
Raikes is also quoted as saying that half the sales so far came from customers who had been using Intuit’s QuickBooks which is fairly surprising.
LiveSide, a community site for Microsoft Windows Live, Xbox Live, and Office Live enthusiasts, stirred up press interest with a posting this week that Office Live “pre-beta” invitations have already been sent out:
Promising “a free Web site with your own domain name, free hosting, online business applications, e-mail and more” along with easy access to “your company e-mail, customer and project information from almost any Internet-connected computer” this is one Live service that is definitely not targeted at the home consumer.
You can still sign up for the beta program at the Office Live homepage though as always, not every applicant will be offered a place on the beta.
The beta is open to US residents only, and requires Windows XP and Microsoft Office 2000 or higher.
Later in the week another poster further roiled the waters with the observation that the “beta should be released any day now” and that features of Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting and Windows Live Custom Domains would be part of the package as well.
Office Live was announced with Windows Live on Nov. 1 of last year.