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With Lots of Partner Help, Microsoft Launches Small Business Accounting 2006

Microsoft today added to its small-business arsenal by announcing the general availability and promotional pricing for Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting 2006 and Office Small Business Management Edition 2006, which is a version of Office that includes the new accounting package.

SBA 2006 is intended to be an accounting package that is simple to deploy and use, yet includes everything a small business needs to manage its sales, marketing and financial processes. It costs $149 in the U.S., after a $30 mail-in-rebate. Small Business Management Edition is priced at $569 for new customers, or $399 as an upgrade for existing Office users. Both prices are after a $100 mail-in rebate.

The Management Edition includes SBA plus Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager Update as well as the 2003 versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher and Access. "It’s the full meal deal for small businesses," says Doug Leland, general manager for small business for Microsoft’s Small, Midmarket Solutions and Partners group.

Partners of various stripes are playing a significant role in the launches, Leland says.

On the OEM front, Dell is offering SBA 2006 pre-loaded on select Dimension desktops and Inspiron notebooks while Gateway will offer the Management Edition on its new S-series desktops and notebooks.

Microsoft has agreements with large retailers to distribute the product, Leland says, including CompUSA, Staples, Office Depot, Amazon.com, OfficeMax and Best Buy. The agreements mean the products will be available from more than 5,000 retail outlets in the U.S.

More than 65,000 VARs and system builders have already received the SBA product, Leland says, and Microsoft has online training available to get partners up to speed on the products. Recognizing that accounting pros will likely play a significant role in recommending SBA to their clients, Microsoft previously launched the Microsoft Accountants’ Network to support their efforts. Members get a free copy of the SBA product, he says, along with support and training to help them get certified on it.

Some 135 ISVs are participating in the SBA early adopter program and more than 300 say they will be or are building solutions on top of SBA, Leland says. Twenty of them announced products at the launch today, including tax and legal applications, and he says 75 applications are expected to ship within the next few months.

Microsoft also has agreements with a number of service providers to integrate their offerings with SBA. They include:

  • ADP - payroll and tax processing
  • Chase Merchant Services - credit and debit card processing
  • Digital Insight and Checkfree - online banking and bill payment using Direct Connect
  • Deluxe Small Business Services - checks and various forms
  • Thomson Creative Solutions and Taxsoftware.com - tax services

For more details, go to: http://www.office.microsoft.com/sba

About the Author

Paul Desmond, the founding editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine, is president of the IT publishing firm PDEdit in Southborough, Mass. Reach him at paul@pdedit.com.