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Microsoft Unveils Free 'Accounting Express' for Small Biz

Oct. 30, 2006 (SmartPros) Microsoft unveiled today its new suite of accounting software products, including a free, full-featured offering called Microsoft Office Accounting Express 2007, which targets U.S. small businesses that otherwise rely on pencil-and-paper bookkeeping or Excel spreadsheets.

Microsoft wants to tap into the large market of small businesses, including startups and home-based businesses, who don't use accounting software due to high cost, complexity, and other barriers, a company spokesman told SmartPros. Accounting Express, as a free software-as-a-service download, eliminates the cost barrier, and its familiar Office look and feel interface reduces complexity.

Express is loaded with standard accounting features -- from accounts receivable to invoicing to auditing. In addition, Express is integrated with add-on services such as ADP payroll, Equifax credit monitoring, PayPal payments, and eBay sales processing. It also connects with online banking services.

Express can be downloaded at The download size is 338MB, and it works with Microsoft Office XP and Microsoft Office 2003.

The company has launched a campaign to spread the word about Express. The campaign included a surprise drop-off of 2,000 free copies of the software on people's lawns in a Chicago suburb.* A free Webinar in November will highlight the new software's features.

Express is available now, but also will be included in the 2007 Microsoft Office release, including Microsoft Office Small Business 2007, Microsoft Office Professional 2007, and Microsoft Office Ultimate 2007.

In addition, Microsoft announced the upgrades to its advanced version of the software, Microsoft Office Accounting Professional 2007. The new version includes enhanced Navigator, an accountant-client management tool that manages multiple clients from a single dashboard. Also, a new add-on payroll center lets the accountant set up collaborative processes with an unlimited number of clients from a single account for $9.95 per month per client.

Office Accounting Professional will be available in retail stores early next year for an estimated retail price of $149. Until then, a trial version will be available. Professional also will come bundled with the new Express version.

Microsoft said Express customers can easily upgrade to the Professional version with an activation key for online download.

Microsoft's accounting software first debuted a year ago as Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting. In September, Microsoft announced it was dropping "Small Business" from the product name, but despite the name change, the target audience of the product remains the same -- for businesses with 25 employees or less.

For more information, visit Microsoft's new "Office Accounting Is Better" Web site at

SmartPros subscribers are invited to attend an upcoming series of free Microsoft Webcasts. Register and you'll automatically be entered to win one of four free all-you-can-learn CPE subscriptions, courtesy of SmartPros.

Revised Oct. 30, 2006, 9:30 am.

* Updated Oct. 30, 2006, 1:40 pm, Source: United Press International

2006 SmartPros Ltd. All rights reserved.

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