Office Accounting 2007 – Democratizing Software for Smaller Businesses

Rajat Taneja, Microsoft’s General Manager, Small Business Applications and Services told me last week that the 2nd generation of Microsoft Accounting 2007 helps democratize software for small businesses. One reason, a big reason, is that it’s free.
There is already existing software Microsoft and other vendor’s software to help smaller businesses sell and market their businesses online and overall manage their accounting. However, Rajat feels, and I agree, that things could still be simpler.
Furthermore, many businesses still use Excel (another Microsoft product), paper and pencil to manage parts of their business. Microsoft’s hope is that the new accounting solution will change all of this with today’s announcement.
Microsoft Accounting Express 2007 is free. The many businesses who are still not using a PC based accounting solution have ZERO cost barrier for using a more efficient computer based accounting solution. Office Accounting Professional 2007 costs $149.
Download the free edition here.
Those users who start with Office Accounting Express 2007 can easily migrate all their data to Office Accounting Professional 2007 and those using the Professional version can easily migrate to Microsoft Dynamics (for larger sized businesses)
Both accounting versions programs are loaded with features which include:
– Creation and tracking of customer quotes and invoices
– Acceptance of payments and returns
– Easy-to-use reporting with 22 pre-defined reports that can be customized
– Forms customization, enabling users to fully customize the data elements in a form and save specific layouts
– Role-based security
– Integration with Microsoft Office Word, Outlook and Excel to avoid double entry and enable further analysis of financial data
– Organize business information in one place: Accounting Express 2007 and Outlook 2007 with Business Contact Manager share the same data to help ensure that information stays up to date
– Accountant Transfer Wizard provides an accountant cutoff date for files while customers continue to use Office Accounting Express 2007
– Multiclient Accountant View and multiclient payroll processing for accounting professionals
The Professional version includes:
Multiuser access, Multicurrency support, Inventory management , Fixed Asset Manager , Sales order and purchase order tools , Job tracking , Enhanced cash basis accounting , Dashboard and Integration with Microsoft Point of Sale.
Going beyond the software itself Microsoft increased from 3 to 7 the online services available as well. Both accounting services integrate with the following premium services:
– eBay – Businesses can list products, upload images, track status in virtually real time, and download and process orders.
– PayPal – Integration with Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 with Business Contact Manager and Microsoft Office Word 2007 allows customers to send invoices in e-mail and customers to pay using PayPal.
– Equifax. Businesses can monitor customers credit in virtually real time.
– Credit-card processing. Businesses can accept online credit card payments through Chase Merchant Services, PayPal or VeriSign.
– ADP PayrollSM Solutions. Businesses can process payroll, direct-deposit employees salaries, and pay taxes online.
– Microsoft Office Live. Businesses can share their books online with their accountant via Office Live Web-based services.
– Online banking. Businesses can download and reconcile bank transactions.
With these three new announcements (Accounting 2007 Express (free), Accounting Professional 2007 and added online services) Microsoft makes it “no excuse” easy for every small business to manage their business with more productive, computer based accounting solutions.
Beyond simply using computer based accounting solutions, business managers can do it in a familiar Microsoft Office environment, integrate their data with other Microsoft products (such as Office Live and Outlook) and extend the core product with added value (and important) services.
What does all this mean for you?
Microsoft continues to evolve its suite of small business focused products. Those who already use its products have more reasons to stay as Microsoft customers, those using no accounting solution have a more difficult choice (as you choose between Intuit, Microsoft, Sage, Cougar Mountain and others).
Microsoft’s free accounting solution competes head on with Intuit’s Quickbooks Simple Start which was designed for this same market of small businesses who still do not use an accounting solution.
Two edges Microsoft has is the integration with Microsoft Office and links (now and growing in the future) to Office Live for an enhanced “work anywhere” experience.
Intuit of course has huge market share, loyal customer based, excellent product and brand recognition.
This announcement is just ONE of MANY initiatives Microsoft has for the small business market in the coming weeks.