Microsoft Offers Free Accounting Suite

Is this a case of the bigboys taking your legs away? Betanews.com is reporting the following story.

Upping the ante against Intuit, Microsoft on Monday released a new accounting software package for small and home businesses. The most alluring feature of the offering may not be its Outlook-like interface and Office integration, but rather its price: free.

Office Accounting Express 2007 is largely a basic accounting suite aimed at those who currently use pen and paper or a spreadsheet to manage their finances. Startups and eBay sellers are among the intended audience, Microsoft says.

Businesses can use the software to sell products online, create and send invoices, track expenses, automate bank account and customer payments, store contact information, and access more than 20 predefined reports. Support for eBay and PayPal is built directly into Accounting Express.

To simplify setup, Microsoft has included a startup wizard, and the software can important data from Intuit QuickBooks, Microsoft Money, and Microsoft Office Excel.

Although the product itself is a free download, Microsoft has bundled seven third party services, some of which are available for additional fees. These include processing payroll through ADP, accessing reports from Equifax, and sharing of books with an accountant via Office Live.

Sadly they are running it as a PC install – but then I can understand that many people may be wary about putting their personal or SME business data online. Nonetheless, its disappointing that Microsoft continue to focus solely on the install rather offering a parallel online offering because its certainly not the case that they don’t get SAAS (Software as a service) and believe in its importance.

In the case of this software, I rather suspect that many SMEs will quickly find it too limited but for the one-person band running an ebay biz…..then again, I rather think that Sage accounting is a pain to use in any serious fashion, but that’s the boring chartered accountant in me speaking. Ooops did I just admit that.

Comment posted by Geoff
at 11/3/2006 4:56:00 AM
Pity its only available for US use, which I guess means it won’t handle VAT

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