Intuit, a business software provider, has unveiled major changes to their QuickBooks product line for 2006 in response to Microsoft's Small Business Accounting software.

The 2006 QuickBooks line -- Accountant Edition, Simple Start, Pro, Premier and Enterprise (Basic, a small start-up businesses accounting product, has been cut from the roster) -- focuses on ease of use, improved inventory support and scalability, said Dan Levin, senior vice president and general manager of QuickBooks.

Accountants who become members of the QuickBooks ProAdvisor Program will now receive unlimited tech support from one of the 60 employees specifically trained to answer accountant's questions, said Levin. A scheduled call back from one of the 60 dedicated help desk staff for accountants who want to receive a call at a client's office or on the road is also available for ProAdvisor members.

Accountants Edition 2006 will have the same workflow screens as previous editions, along with an added Toggle feature. The new feature will allow accountants to instantly switch between their Accountant Edition 2006 and their client's QuickBooks version with one click.

A more robust SQL database and an always-on audit trail will also save accountants time and help make client data more accurate.

"It's not only great for when someone gets audited, it's also for training someone if they are using the system wrong," said Levin.

To ease confusion and save time for the user, a new homepage with no accounting terms, fewer menu items, and quicker access to reports and listings of vendors and employees is present in all the consumer 2006 products.

Levin also underlined an inventory control tool, a patent-pending sales order fulfillment feature that allows users to create "What if?" scenarios for their sales orders. More granular level permissions in Enterprise and Premier will help keep inventory under tighter control for this year's releases along with a back-ordered column for partially filled invoices.

The new face-lift for the QuickBooks product line comes just a couple months after Microsoft released their first version of Small Business Accounting, an accounting product geared for very small businesses.

"Microsoft has the capability of building good products, but they are technology-centric, not customer-centric like us," said Levin. "From the day we saw what the product looked like, we realized we overestimated them. Their product landed with a dull thud in the marketplace."

Levin does not believe the uncommitted small business market, those not using any accounting software and the group Microsoft hoped to entice with their new Office-embedded software, is as large as the 19 million potential users Microsoft claims.

Pricing for the new product line is as follows:

  • QuickBooks: Pro Edition 2006, $199.95;
  • QuickBooks: Pro 2006 Edition 5-User Value Pack, $699.95;
  • QuickBooks: Premier Edition 2006, $399.95; and,
  • QuickBooks: Premier 2006 Edition 5-User Value Pack, $1,399.95.

Pricing for QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions 6.0, is as follows:

  • 5-User -- $3,000 for new clients, $2,700 for upgraders;
  • 10-User -- $4,500 for new clients, $4,050 for upgraders; and,
  • 15-User -- $6,000 for new clients, $5,400 for upgraders.

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