Microsoft has turned its accounting suite for small businesses into two separate offerings, one of which users can download for at no cost.
Office Accounting Express 2007, an updated version of Office Small Business Accounting 2006, will be available here for free, said Rajat Taneja, general manager for small-business applications and services at Microsoft.
Microsoft will also begin offering a slightly higher-end version of the software, Office Accounting Professional 2007, from retailers early next year.
The professional edition of the software has more robust features than the free version for handling inventory management, budgeting, cashflow and other tasks mature small businesses require, Taneja said. Office Accounting Express 2007 is aimed more at small firms that are just getting off the ground and need help starting up.
Microsoft has also expanded the web-based offerings that are available through the software from two to seven. These include services from Microsoft partners – such as eBay's auction and PayPal payment services, Verisign's security services, Automatic Data Processing's payroll service and Equifax's credit-check service – that small businesses may find useful.
The services cost extra, and vary in price depending on the provider and the service, Taneja said. They are available in both the express and professional editions of the software.