Microsoft readies small business accounting package

Paul Krill ist Redakteur unserer US-Schwesterpublikation InfoWorld.

Looking to accommodate the sales and marketing needs of small companies, Microsoft on Wednesday is announcing general availability of its Microsoft Small Business Accounting 2006 software as well as the Office Small Business Management Edition 2006 package.

The two products are intended to provide for management of sales, marketing, and financial processes from within the Microsoft Office environment.

"The main thrust of [Small Business Accounting 2006] is a product geared toward meeting the needs of the owner/manager of the small company, in terms of their business management requirements," said James Utzschneider, general manager for the SMS&P (Small Midmarket Solutions and Partners) group at Microsoft.

Integration with Business Contact Manager and Office is critical, Utzschneider said. "Our research shows that most small businesses in the United States actually run their business on Office, so it makes sense to be able to take accounting and customer management functionality and integrate it in a way that"s [similar to] the tools they already use," he said.

"First and foremost, Small Business Accounting 2006 and Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager is incredibly easy to use and has fundamentally improved how we manage our business by allowing us to integrate all our customer data in one view -- including our financial history and interaction records," said beta customer Chris Schatte, owner of Texoma Home and Garden, in a prepared statement released by Microsoft. The Small Business Accounting package was beta tested at nearly 4,800 businesses, Microsoft said.

Among the new features in Small Business Accounting 2006 is the ability to memorize frequently entered transactions that can be saved as templates. The software also lets users manage payroll manually through Excel, back up the company"s database to share with an accountant, and develop profit and loss statements by class or business segment.

Available as either a standalone format or as part of Office Small Business Management Edition, Small Business Accounting 2006 is full-featured financial management software, the company said. Office Small Business Management Edition 2006 also features Outlook 2003, Business Contact Manager Update, Office Word 2003, Office Excel 2003, Office PowerPoint 2003, Office Publisher 2003, and Office Access 2003.

Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting is shipping for a suggested retail price of US$149 after a $30 mail-in rebate. Office Small Business Management Edition is being sold at a suggested retail price of $569, including a $100 rebate. Existing Office customers can upgrade for $399, also including a $100 rebate.

As part of the introduction, Dell will offer Office Small Business Accounting 2006 on selected small business systems, including Dimension desktops and Inspiron notebooks. Gateway will offer the software with its S-series desktops and notebooks.

ADP is offering ADP Total Payroll, a payroll processing solution that integrates with Small Business Accounting 2006.