Microsoft is discontinuing its Office Accounting software family and will stop distributing the products as of November 16, according to a posting on the company's website.

The product had outlived its usefulness, according to an FAQ.

"We continually evaluate our business strategies to make sure we're working to meet the needs of customers, partners and shareholders. With that in mind, we have determined that existing free templates within Office used with Excel was a better option for small businesses, and the Microsoft Dynamics ERP products were appropriate for mid-range organisations," it states.

Office Accounting users will continue to receive support under the original terms, which provide five years of mainstream support and five years of extended support following the product's release. Specific retirement dates are listed on Microsoft's website.

However, certain online services, such as eBay and Equifax tie-ins, will be no more as of December 15. Customers who bought the software very recently have a potential out, as they can return the software within 30 days of purchase.

Microsoft's announcement didn't cite flagging sales as contributing to its decision. But the company has long struggled to compete against rival Intuit's products, which include the popular Quicken accounting application. Earlier this year, Microsoft announced it would stop selling its Money personal-finance software.