Microsoft Releases Small Business Accounting, beta Version

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The beta version of Small Business Accounting 2006 was released last week by Microsoft, with new online capabilities and a new, simpler name, Office Accounting 2007. The beta adds integration with PayPal, Equifax, and eBay, allowing “online marketplace integration and online invoicing” in an effort to address the “pressure . . . to do more business online,” the company's press release says, according to ABC News.

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Microsoft has also added new features to Office Accounting that are designed for accountants, including the Accountant Navigator, which allows accountants to manage multiple clients, and the Payroll Center for Accountants, which allows accountants to run payment processing for multiple clients from one dashboard, reports.

New security roles allow users to customize the application to their needs and permit joint access with the user's accountant, says. New accounting capabilities include fixed asset management. Users can customize the layout and labels on accounting forms and work with new data fields.

Two payment services – Invoice Payment and Merchant Processing Service – are available through the PayPal add-in, states. These services are designed to allow payment directly through PayPal or by credit card. The Equifax partnership permits credit checks of customers and vendors.

Users of the beta version may sell through the eBay add-in by uploading data directly from one screen, instead of using the multiple screens on eBay, according to Richard Morochove who reviewed the software for PC World. Sellers may also download sales results from eBay into the software, without having to manually re-enter sales into accounting software.

Morochove expects the most popular feature of Office Accounting to be the PayPal add-in, included with the software, but he says that the software's greatest strength is the ease of integration with other Microsoft Office applications. Users can modify invoice templates with Microsoft Word and add one of the PayPal payment buttons. Data can be transferred to Excel for multiple uses. Users can access accounting capabilities from the Business Contact Manager in Microsoft Outlook, but a beta 2 version of Outlook 2007 is required to support this integration.

The time-of-transaction conversion rate method in Office Accounting's multi-currency support is too simple to satisfy most accountants, however, Morochove says.

Unfortunately the application, which should be available by year's end, is difficult to set up, Morochove says. He writes that he had to try three times before he was successful in installing the beta and it operates “a tad sluggishly.” The new online services, the add-ins, are “not as quick and easy to set up in Office Accounting” as he thinks they should be.

Still, Office Accounting 2007 makes the Microsoft software more competitive with Sage's Peachtree, Morochove says, and offers the best integration with Microsoft Office's applications.


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