What will it take for Microsoft to succeed with its new Small Business Accounting software? What are its chances?


The definition of success is the key. Will Microsoft be happy with the same kind of market penetration as Peachtree or Simply Accounting, or do they want to unseat Intuit in the No.1 spot? In order to unseat Intuit, Microsoft will have to convince the public that SBA is better than QuickBooks and will have to convince the CPA/accounting community that it is at least as good as QuickBooks with better back-office features. That is an uphill battle. Russell A. Clark, CPA
Clark Consulting Group
Orlando, Florida

Quicken fits the small business market well, because it is easy to use and learn. There is a modest base of bookkeepers that provide "consulting" for QuickBooks customers at half or one-third the rates that the Great Plains VAR community charges. Everyone recognizes it is not a real accounting system, but it does the job for that market. So the question is, will SBA be as easy to use as QuickBooks? I doubt it. My suggestion is for Microsoft to spend its money to continue to drive Great Plains up in the middle market to catch the low-hanging fruit from Oracle, SAP, and PeopleSoft.

Name withheld

Partner Insights

Microsoft needs to build support and develop a following among CPAs more than anything else. They need to create a viable business opportunity much like the QuickBooks Professional Advisor program and with financial institutions. If anyone can overtake even a respectable portion of Intuit's market, it's Microsoft. But it's going to take time and money. Of course, the product better be strong and stable. But more than anything else, the success is based on the marketing. And, I hope they pull it off because I like competition! If it's a me-too product, we will all yawn.

Howard D. Rabotnick
Tendras Corp.
Commerce Twp., Mich.

Microsoft needs to write a one-button QuickBooks data conversion program. When users install Small Business Accounting, they need to see a pop-up that asks, "Convert QuickBooks data?" If the answer is "yes," it needs to convert everything in QB.

Matthew Lefkowitz
Lefkowitz Systems
San Francisco

The chances of success are pretty high! There is a market for QuickBooks-like functionality on a stronger database-QuickBooks really slows down at a certain point. There is also the possibility of more vertical offerings as a spin-off of Small Business Accounting due to its strong Software Developer Kit and Microsoft's openness to develop on it. The challenge for Microsoft is to convert the CPA community that has been married to QuickBooks for years. As long as its offerings/services do not compete with the accountants, this is doable.

Ranjit Charles
Osborne Charles Group
Marion, Ohio

Retail shelf space and lots of advertising.

Tad W. Remington, CMA
InterDyn, Remington Consulting
Portland, Ore.

Their best opportunity for success is to buy Intuit. On a more serious note, they should remove the term "accounting" from the name completely. The market they are targeting doesn't buy "accounting" software per se, for the most part. It buys checkwriting and billing systems. Perhaps, they could start by including it as part of the MS Office bundle for an incubation period, and then separate it out as a more robust stand-alone bookkeeping system.

John H. Higgins, CPA,CITP
CPA Crossings
Rochester, Minn.

Microsoft has the opportunity to build an accounting application that is so tightly integrated with Microsoft Office that the competitors will not be able to achieve. Having a single place to manage contacts (Outlook), keep correspondence and communications with vendors and customers and creating a single busines management application for the small business owner to work with would give Microsoft a huge advantage in the marketplace. If Microsoft tries to compete on feature set I do not think their chances for success will be very good. They must compete on a common, single, integrated platform/application to manage a small business.

Michael S. Silver
Buffalo Grove, Ill.

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