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October 30, 2006

Microsoft goes free and Live with Small Business Accounting

Posted by David Hunter at 10:30 AM ET.

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 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.

Filed under Coopetition, General Business, Intuit, Microsoft, Office, Office Accounting, Office Live, Online Services, Small Business

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