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Microsoft adds to accounting software

The software maker revamps its package of financial management applications with features designed to track project costs.

Microsoft has revamped its financial management applications for midsized businesses with new features designed to track project costs.

The Redmond, Wash., software maker said Tuesday that it has begun shipping Solomon 5.5, an update to the business application suite that it gained when it acquired Great Plains in 2001. The new programs come out of the Microsoft Business Solutions unit, which focuses on selling business-management applications to small and midsized businesses, competing with SAP, Oracle, PeopleSoft and Best Software, among others.

Solomon 5.5 includes project-accounting programs designed to help project managers keep track of budgets and contract labor such as consultants and temporary workers. The product should appeal to business consulting firms, engineering services businesses, wholesalers, construction companies, and general contractors, Microsoft said.

One new component in the system is an audit-trail feature aimed at federal contractors, particularly those who answer to the U.S. Defense Contract Audit Agency. The system is designed to work seamlessly with a handful of other Microsoft programs, including Project 2002, Office XP and the company's set of business applications for retailers.

Solomon 5.5 is available initially in the United States and Canada, for a starting price of about $12,700. A scaled-down version for use by up to 10 licensed people starts at $4,900.