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Microsoft releases accounting software

Microsoft releases accounting software

Microsoft Corp. Wednesday will make available new accounting software aimed at small businesses at its Microsoft Business Summit in Redmond, Washington.

First unveiled at the vendor's partner conference in Minneapolis in July, Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting is designed to give small businesses software that provides for double-entry accounting, which keeps track of both a company's income and expenses to ensure accountability for all parts of the business, said Steve Guggenheimer, vice president of small business for Microsoft Small and Midmarket Solutions & Partner Group.

Forty percent of small businesses do not use software specifically designed for accounting, according to Guggenheimer. He said Microsoft saw an opportunity to serve those customers with a product targeted to their needs.

The new product, however, also will face an entrenched leader in the small-business accounting market: Intuit Inc.'s QuickBooks.

Small Business Accounting gives customers the ability to do basic accounting functions, such as recording customer transactions, and manage sales and other financial documents. The product also includes third-party services from Microsoft partners such as JPMorgan Chase & Co., Deluxe Corp. and Automatic Data Processing Inc. to allow customers to sign up for those companies' services from within the product, he said.

Microsoft also will launch a new version of Office that includes Small Business Accounting, called Office Small Business Management Edition. The product integrates accounting functionality with Microsoft's office productivity suite, so customers can perform accounting functions from within Office itself, Guggenheimer said.

"It allows accounting to be used as an overall way you manage the business," he said. "It integrates [Office] with [things like] how you would do sales, do quotes [and] send out offers in a seamless way, which is what people care about."

At the time Microsoft introduced Small Business Accounting, the company set up the Microsoft Professional Accounting Network, which enabled professional accountants to learn about the product so they could recommend it to their customers, Guggenheimer said. To date, 3,000 accountants have signed up to the program.

Both new accounting products will be available Wednesday through various channels, including Microsoft's Small Business Specialty partners and in retail stores such as OfficeMax, Office Depot, Staples and CompUSA, Guggenheimer said. Microsoft hardware partners Dell Inc. and Gateway Inc. also will offer PCs with the software pre-installed, he said.

Small Business Accounting costs US$179, with a $30 rebate offered at launch, Guggenheimer said. Office Small Business Management Edition costs $499 with a rebate of $100 at launch.

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