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Microsoft tabs SMB accounting launch

Microsoft said that it will introduce its Small Business Accounting software at the mid-sized business summit it is holding in Redmond, Wash. on September 7.

Company representatives said that Chairman Bill Gates and Steven Guggenheimer, vice president of small business for Microsoft, will preside over the event.

Microsoft is building the accounting tools as part of its new Office product set for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs), code-named Magellan, which is also expected to offer upgraded contact management applications. The company introduced a beta version of the accounting product last November.

Magellan will represent Microsoft's second edition of its Office suite for small businesses, as the company launched Office Small Business Edition in 2003 for $449, which it plans to continue selling alongside the newer products. No pricing info on the accounting package or the Magellan suite has been detailed thus far.

The accounting applications represent the latest step by the software giant to raise its presence in the market for mid-sized businesses, where it has already launched customer relationship management (CRM) tools. The long awaited second iteration of the CRM package, originally planned to launch in February 2005, will go into production during the fourth quarter of this year and is slated to reach customers in early 2006.

With its increased focus on accounting, Microsoft is aiming to directly challenge longstanding sector leader Intuit as the de facto back office provider for mid-sized companies. Some industry watchers have said that Microsoft's ability to tie its accounting package directly to its Excel spreadsheet software could give it a chance to displace Intuit's QuickBooks accounting software.