Microsoft Ships Small Business Accounting Package

Microsoft plans to go head-to-head with Intuit's popular Quickbooks when it starts shipping a small business accounting (SBA) product as well as an SBA Office suite version this week.

The software giant plans to release a standalone package named “Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting 2006” which will support up to five users. They also intend to launch an Microsoft Office suite version named “Microsoft Office Small Business Management Edition 2006 with Microsoft Small Business Accounting 2006” starting this week as reported by CRN today. The Office suite includes the most current versions of Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Access, Publisher, and Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager Update.

The SBA package will list for $149 with a $30 mail-in rebate while the Office/SBA bundle will list for $569 with the $100 rebate. Quickbooks Basic lists for $199.95 and Quickbooks Pro lists for about $299 but can be had $180 with rebates.

Microsoft has also teamed up with Chase Merchant Services for credit card processing and ADP for payroll processing to provide key benefits to small businesses. Many small businesses have no accounting software per se and use Microsoft Excel instead. Small businesses might find the Office/SBA bundle attractive if they want to upgrade their Office software and have the benefit of integrated accounting software.

Although not the first time, the software giant plans to challenge Intuit directly with these offerings. The Quickbooks software line and other small business products accounted for 49 percent of Intuit’s fiscal 2005 revenue of $2.04 billion. Microsoft launched two products, Microsoft Profit and Microsoft Money, in the past without successful results. Back in 1994, Intuit agreed to be purchased by Microsoft but the government blocked the sale due to antitrust and market share concerns.

Microsoft also plans to launch a product called Windows Midmarket Server that is intended for companies with between 25 and 500 computers connecting to the Internet. This software will not be released until 2007 to coincide with the release of their Longhorn server software. For now, Microsoft will continue to offer a promotional bundle intended for mid-market businesses.

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