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Microsoft killing off Office Accounting product

The software maker says Friday that it's ending the latest in a series of efforts to rival Intuit in the business accounting software.

Microsoft has decided that its Office Accounting product just doesn't add up.

The software maker said on Friday that it plans next month to stop distributing the accounting product line, ending the latest in a series of efforts to take on market leader Intuit.

The accounting product line was launched in 2005 amid some fanfare, but failed to grab much market share and was later pulled from retail shelves in favor of online-only sales.

"We continually evaluate our business strategies to make sure we're working to meet the needs of customers, partners and shareholders," Microsoft said on its Web site. "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 organizations."

The software maker said it will stop distributing its free Office Accounting Express as well as all of the paid Office Accounting product in the United States and United Kingdom.

Microsoft has been paring back a number of the efforts at the periphery of its product line, including mainstays such as Microsoft Money, which had long been second fiddle to Intuit's Quicken. The company has also discontinued its Windows Live OneCare security software.

Microsoft plans to continue supporting the Office Accounting product, although a number of related services are ending.

"Online sales from eBay and credit profile from Equifax will no longer be available after December 15, 2009," Microsoft said. "However, your customers will still be able to pay e-mailed invoices directly through PayPal. In addition, credit card processing services and the ability to order compatible checks and forms will still be available."

Those who have bought the product in the last 30 days can return it for a refund.