Last week’s Microsoft Business Summit in the US saw the launch of the company’s small business accounting software.
Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting is a full double entry accounting system pitched to compete directly with products like QuickBooks and MYOB. However, to start with the company says it will target the 40% of US small business owners who do not yet use software specifically designed for accounting.
Initially the software will only be available in the US. A UK edition is slated for late 2006. Anne Taylor, Microsoft New Zealand’s product marketing manager in charge of Office system says it will launch here, but certainly not in the next 12 months.
She says, “The localisation for each country is a huge task. I’ve been involved in previous localisations so I know personally.” Taylor says there are many local rules that need to be built into an accounting package.
Taylor says when the software finally reaches these shores Microsoft will probably follow its US plan of action where it beta tested the software extensively with accountants before unleashing it on the market.
Small Business Accounting handles standard booking functions such as recording customer transactions, managing sales and producing reports and other financial documents. The US version of the product includes links to third-party products from companies partnering with Microsoft, such as banks. Similar partnerships would need to be forged here.
The software is being sold as a standalone product as part of a new small business version of Microsoft Office. This makes sense as Small Business Accounting integrates with Office so that customers can perform accounting functions from within their Office applications.