Microsoft Calls on Partners to Deliver Accounting App

By Dan Muse | Posted September 07, 2005

When Microsoft announced availability and pricing of the much-anticipated Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting 2006 and Office Small Business Management Edition 2006 earlier today it wasn't alone.

Since the software giant made its intentions known last November, it has been building support from OEMs, retailers, Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) and service providers.

Doug Leland, general manager for Microsoft's small business division, said small businesses and accountants have requested 50,000 trial copies of the accounting application and have been providing feedback to Microsoft over the past several months. Based on that feedback, Microsoft reports that it has added features such as the capability to memorize frequently entered transactions, which can be saved as templates.

Read our review of Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting 2006.

A big part of Microsoft's plan to establish Small Business Accounting as an immediate force in a market that has been dominated by Intuit's QuickBooks is to rely on ISVs to further extend the capabilities by creating industry- or process-specific products. More than 20,000 copies of the Software Development Kit have been downloaded from the Microsoft Web site, Leland said.

Those partners will "extend the capabilities [of Small Business Accounting 2006] both vertically and horizontally," Leland said. Currently, he said, more than 75 third-party applications have been designed to integrate with the new Office Small Business Accounting.

Rather offering its own services for payroll, taxes, banking and credit card processing, Microsoft announced the following partnerships to provide those services.

ADP announced a payroll processing and tax filing service developed for Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting 2006. The offering is designed to calculate federal, state and local taxes. Users can also upgrade to ADP Total Payroll, a full-service payroll processing solution that integrates with Small Business Accounting.

Microsoft also said that is collaborating with providers such Chase Merchant Services to provide credit and debit card payment processing from within Office Small Business Accounting.

Digital Insight Corp, an online banking provider, and CheckFree Corp., a provider of electronic billing and payment processing services to financial institutions, have both certified Microsoft Small Business Accounting 2006 for online banking, according to Microsoft.

Deluxe Small Business Services will offer business checks, forms, envelopes and related printed products designed specifically for use with Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting 2006. Microsoft reports that links within the new accounting software will bring users to a Web site where they can order Deluxe products.

Thomson Creative Solutions, a provider of tax and write-up software, today reported that it plans to offer integration between its software and Small Business Accounting designed to enable accountants to import data from Small Business Accounting directly into Creative Solutions' Write-Up CS program. Also, Taxsoftware.com, an online provider of tax software services, said it has developed integration with Small Business Accounting that enables users to import Small Business Accounting data, and e-file directly with the IRS and state tax agencies.

Where and How to Buy
Microsoft also unveiled today its plans to offer its new small business management and accounting software through deals with hardware vendors and retailers.

Dell will offer the software pre-installed on selected Dell small business computing systems, including Dimension desktop PCs and Inspiron notebooks. Gateway will offer Office Small Business Management Edition 2006 on its new S-series of PCs and notebooks. Leland also said that Microsoft is working with HP to offer the accounting software on some of its computers marketed to small businesses.

Additionally, Microsoft said, more than 65,000 value added resellers (VARs) and system builders have received Office Small Business Accounting. The products also will be distributed in more than 5,000 U.S. retail outlets, including CompUSA, Staples, Office Depot, Amazon.com, OfficeMax and Best Buy.

Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting 2006 is available as a stand alone product for $149 (after a $30 mail-in rebate). Office Small Business Management Edition 2006 ($569 after $100 rebate) includes Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager Update as well as Microsoft Office Word 2003, Microsoft Office Excel 2003, Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2003, Microsoft Office Publisher 2003 and Microsoft Office Access 2003. Existing Microsoft Office owners can upgrade for $399 (also after a $100 rebate). Leland told SmallBusinessComputing.com that Microsoft isn't currently planning to offer competitive upgrades (i.e., from QuickBooks or Peachtree Accounting).

Dan Muse is executive editor of internet.com's Small Business Channel, EarthWeb's Networking Channel and ServerWatch.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!


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