Microsoft Touches Up Midmarket Business Software

Microsoft Business Solutions Tuesday said the latest version of its software to serve supply chain management, e-commerce and customer relationship management companies is ready for the public.

The Fargo, N.D. business unit of the Redmond, Wash. software concern released an improved Business Solutions-Great Plains 7.5, which organizations use to manage chores such as accounting, payroll and online transactions. Great Plains 7.5 includes enhanced supply chain management and manufacturing features that help businesses deliver better customer service, as well as distribution and order management improvements.

For example, the new Available to Promise features help businesses maximize net profits, take control of their inventory with complete stock views and
offer employees easy access to the information. The Advanced Distribution features help businesses improve distribution, manage inventory and respond to customers faster. The Advanced Picking features help increase order-picking productivity, manage order-picking processes, minimize overhead, meet specific needs with configurable picking routines, and integrate with other distribution functionality.

Great Plains 7.5 also boasts new expense management characteristics, including better project accounting reporting capabilities to keep workers up to speed on budget revisions and revenue projections, and flexible expense management capabilities that allow employees to create offline expense reports from remote locations. These features eliminate paper trails and shrink expense processing costs with electronic receipt imaging.

Great Plains 7.5 also features enhanced integration with other Microsoft Business Solutions applications such as Microsoft Business Solutions Customer Relationship Management, Microsoft Business Solutions Retail Management System and Microsoft Business Solutions Business Portal. Great Plains 7.5 also integrates with Microsoft Office 2003 and Microsoft Office SharePoint Services for Microsoft Windows Server 2003.

Microsoft set its sights on the $10 billion SMB business application market about two years ago when it purchased Great Plains for $1.1 billion and then Danish
firm Navision for $1.3 billion in 2002. It competes fiercely with SAP, Siebel and Oracle in the space.

With a single-user financial solution starting at $7,000, Great Plains 7.5 is available immediately in the United States and Canada through Microsoft Certified Business Solutions reselling partners. The software will be released in certain countries in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin America beginning in May 2003.

The company is offering a midmarket package, priced at $4,500 per single user, called Microsoft Business Solutions-Great Plains Standard. This version of Great Plains is designed to meet the requirements of companies that have 25 to 99 employees. annual revenues of $25 million (U.S.) or less, and up to 10 licensed users.

In related news, software service provider Apptix launched an on-demand service over the Net for Microsoft’s Windows SharePoint Services. Using that service, customers, service providers and resellers will be able to deploy Windows SharePoint Services, which will be available in mid-2003.

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