Microsoft’s Revamped Finance Suite Touts Integration

Microsoft on Thursday lifted the veil off the newest
version of its Small Business Manager accounting software, touting slicker
integration to its bCentral Web services platform and applications with
Microsoft Office.

Microsoft Small Business 7.0, a general accounting software package for
companies with 50 employees or fewer, features newfangled, integrated modules
that allow customers to manage operations like financial, banking,
inventory, sales, purchasing and U.S. payroll.

But the biggest new feature is the addition of modules that allow
interoperability with Microsoft Office applications and the bCentral Web
services for small businesses platform.

The Small Business 7.0 upgrade, which came as part of the
Plains acquisition
and is being hawked to companies that need a little more
than basic bookkeeping software, adds jazzed-up features for sales and
purchasing. By tying the new software with inventory functionality,
Microsoft said the new suite would shuttle integrated quotes, sales orders,
invoices, statements and payments that let small businesses manage the
complete customer life cycle.

Small Business Manager 7.0 also boasts integrated purchase orders, item
receipts and payment processes and inventory control features that let
small businesses figure out cost methods and assign multiple price levels to
an item.

A key addition is the integration interface which allows users to import
records and transactions with a wizard-based tool and to export data and
reports to MS Excel, MS Word and other applications within Office.

The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant said it would not market the modules
separately. Instead, the accounting suite priced at $995 for a single-user
copy and $2495 for a multi-user (up to five concurrent) package, will come
as a single product that bundles all the accounting tools.

However, Microsoft will not bundle the U.S. Payroll module, which is sold
separately at $500 for both single or multi-users.

Microsoft said the Small Business Manager 7.0 suit would not be sold
directly but instead would only be available through reseller partners. It
would allow existing Small Business Manager users to upgrade to the new
version only if they subscribe to its $275-per-year foundation services

Microsoft has attacked the enterprise resource planning (ERP) mid-market
with a vengeance since the $1.1 billion
all-stock acquisition
of Great Plains which marked the company’s first
foray into a new

That deal essentially gave Microsoft a huge presence in the ERP market for
SMBs in a short time, creating a new business solutions division, with 3,600
employees and strength in both the U.S. and European markets.

Microsoft is also preparing the large scale
of its customer relationship management (CRM) product targeting
mid-market enterprises.

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