Microsoft Business Solutions released its anticipated Small Business Accounting and Office Small Business Management Edition - two MS Office small business accounting software applications - nearly a year after the release of the public beta release of SBA.Microsoft said that the new product, designed for the small business market, will hit retail shelves priced at $179 for a stand-alone copy, but ship with a $30 mail-in rebate.

The SBA/Office combo (including the latest versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher and Access) will list for $569, or $399 as an upgrade, after a $100 mail-in rebate. ADP Payroll for the program will also be available at $169 per year.

The packages are expected to support up to five users.

Nearly 4,800 U.S. small businesses took part in the beta-testing of Small Business Accounting, and 50,000 trial copies were mailed or given out to consumers and accountants this year. As a result, some changes from the beta have been added to SBA 2006, including the system memorizing frequently entered transactions and allowing users to save them as templates for re-use.

The new software is Microsoft's latest bid to take on Intuit's QuickBooks. QuickBooks Basic lists at $199.95, or $99.95 as an upgrade. QuickBooks Pro is about $100 more, but often comes with significant rebates.

Concurrent with the launch, Microsoft also announced a number of new relationships with distributors and retailers., Best Buy Co. Inc., CompUSA Inc., Office Depot Inc., OfficeMax Inc. and Staples Inc. will sell the software applications and will distribute the solutions to over 5,000 national retail outlets.

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