Microsoft Offers Free Accounting Suite

Upping the ante against Intuit, Microsoft on Monday released a new accounting software package for small and home businesses. The most alluring feature of the offering may not be its Outlook-like interface and Office integration, but rather its price: free.

Office Accounting Express 2007 is largely a basic accounting suite aimed at those who currently use pen and paper or a spreadsheet to manage their finances. Startups and eBay sellers are among the intended audience, Microsoft says.

Businesses can use the software to sell products online, create and send invoices, track expenses, automate bank account and customer payments, store contact information, and access more than 20 predefined reports. Support for eBay and PayPal is built directly into Accounting Express.

To simplify setup, Microsoft has included a startup wizard, and the software can important data from Intuit QuickBooks, Microsoft Money, and Microsoft Office Excel.

Although the product itself is a free download, Microsoft has bundled seven third party services, some of which are available for additional fees. These include processing payroll through ADP, accessing reports from Equifax, and sharing of books with an accountant via Office Live.

For businesses needing more functionality, Microsoft will launch Office Accounting Professional 2007 early next year at a cost of $149 USD. Inventory management, multicurrency invoicing, multiuser access and fixed asset management are among those featured added to the Professional version.

Microsoft Office Accounting Express 2007 is available for download now from FileForum.

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