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Microsoft price cut targets small firms

The company is planning to release cheaper, no-frills versions of its business-management applications this spring, with prices 30 percent lower than regular versions.

Microsoft is planning to release cheaper, no-frills versions of its business-management applications this spring, with prices 30 percent lower than regular versions.

The lower-cost "standard" editions will be available for three different software packages developed by the Microsoft Business Solutions unit, a representative said Friday. The newly formed division of the Redmond, Wash., company focuses on accounting, sales and inventory systems for midsize businesses.

The three software lines getting new price tags and packaging are Solomon, Great Plains and Navision, products that were picked up through Microsoft's acquisition of Great Plains Software and Navision.

The new versions will be designed for companies with fewer than 100 employees and less than $25 million in annual revenue. Microsoft also plans to limit the standard edition versions to customers that require 10 user licenses or less.

Microsoft recently reassigned its top sales executive to drive expansion of its small and midsize business applications unit and hopes to eventually make its Business Solutions division a $10 billion business.

"Microsoft Business Solutions knows that there is a large segment of the market--namely the lower end of the midmarket--that remains underserved by enterprise resource planning solution providers due to price points and complex functionality," said Janelle Poole, Microsoft spokeswoman.

The new packaging will become available in April for Great Plains and Navision products and later in the year for Solomon, Microsoft said.

Poole declined to provide further specifics on the new prices, which range from $5,000 to $250,000 per license, depending on the number of licenses and the number and types of software components purchased.

The new standard edition packaging will replace previous versions of these products, Poole said. This effort, she said, will make pricing, marketing and branding more consistent across the Business Solutions group's brands.