With previous editions of Accounting Today's annual Top 100 Products feature, our editorial staff traditionally thought long and hard in an effort to pull together a theme that would, in essence, provide a cohesive blanket for the myriad products and product categories.But with this, our 14th edition of the Top 100 Products, we felt that the cover image was sufficient - an austere spotlight highlighting the true product "stars" of technology in the accounting profession.

While the themes of the T100 have changed over the years, the underlying purpose behind this comprehensive project has never wavered - to feature what we feel are the marquee technology applications in use by the accounting profession.

Each year, the gathering process is equal parts internal and external, as many of our readers have been enthusiastically - and sometimes aggressively - proactive in the nominating and submission processes.

The criteria for inclusion encompass such factors as frequency of use; level of acceptance by practitioners; the degree of market visibility; user support available from the vendor; product performance, of course; and, ultimately, customer demand.

We think that the class of 2006 dovetails neatly into that selection effort.

As in previous editions, we've not only canvassed the traditional categories, such as payroll, financial planning, tax prep, CRM, nonprofit software, and so on, to highlight the top products, we've also tacked on our now-customary "Ones to Watch" channel. Given the regulatory climate, we've also naturally featured the popular solutions to meet the rigors of Sarbanes-Oxley compliance.

Mirroring our past T100 Products, many of the solutions listed here will have instant recognition, while others may be only peripherally familiar. Whether you're a true "techie," or someone who may be challenged by even basic editions of popular accounting software, we feel that our products roster provides an equitable mix for various levels of technology knowledge and skill.

Our T100 Products is the third and final report that we present in Accounting Today's annual Top 100 franchise; the other two, which appeared earlier in the year, are our Top 100 Firms listing and our Top 100 Most Influential People.

We realize that, like our Top 100 Most Influential People, the Top 100 Products list is somewhat subjective, and there are bound to be disagreements about some of our finalists. Some products are no-brainers, while others may be gradually rising in visibility and popularity within the ranks of the CPA profession.

But either way, we want to hear from you. Trust me, we're not hard to locate, and we encourage any and all reader feedback - even if it isn't always positive.

And with that, the staff of Accounting Today is proud to present its 2006 Top 100 Products.

Spotlight included.

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