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Microsoft updates its accounting software

Great Plains 8.0 offers new features for midsize businesses--an area in which Microsoft plans to proffer lots of marketing moola.

Microsoft released on Monday a new version of its accounting software for midsize companies.

Great Plains 8.0 is designed to improve accounting functions for distribution, manufacturing and other business areas, Microsoft said. The new version, with about 120 enhancements, also works with Microsoft's Business Solutions Business Portal 2.5 and Office 2003. Its looks are similar to those of Office Outlook 2003.

Microsoft earlier this month raised the profile of its Great Plains division and plans to invest $2 billion annually for the next five years in sales, marketing and development efforts targeted at small and midsize businesses. The unit was formed when Microsoft took over Great Plains Software for a price of $1.1 billion in 2001. It increased its foray into the segment the following year with a $1.33 billion buyout of Danish software company Navision.

Microsoft said Great Plains 8.0 features modules for online requisition management, expense entry and approval, and electronic delivery of sales documents to customers, in addition to certain new options for financial reporting.

The product is available in the United States and Canada through Microsoft's reselling partners, and it will be released later in the United Kingdom, Latin America, Africa, Australia and New Zealand. The standard edition is priced at $4,500; the professional version starts at $6,500.