QUICKBOOKS UNVEILS 2006 PRODUCT LINE: Business software provider Intuit has unveiled major changes to its QuickBooks product line for 2006 - a response, in part, to the launch of Microsoft's Small Business Accounting.The 2006 QuickBooks line - Accountant Edition, Simple Start, Pro, Premier and Enterprise (Basic, a small start-up business accounting product, has been cut from the roster) - focuses on ease of use, improved inventory support and scalability, explained Dan Levin, senior vice president and general manager of QuickBooks.

Accountants who join the QuickBooks ProAdvisor Program will now receive unlimited tech support from one of the 60 employees specifically trained to answer accountants' questions, said Levin. A scheduled call back from one of the 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 a new Toggle feature. A more robust SQL database and an always-on audit trail will save time and help make client data more accurate. To ease confusion, 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 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.

Pricing for the new product line is as follows:

* Pro Edition 2006 - $199.95;

* Pro 2006 Edition five-user Value Pack - $699.95;

* Premier Edition 2006 - $399.95; and,

* Premier 2006 Edition five-user Value Pack - $1,399.95.

Pricing for QB Enterprise Solutions 6.0 is as follows:

* Five-user - $3,000 for new clients, $2,700 for upgraders;

* 10-user - $4,500 for new, $4,050 for upgraders; and,

* 15-user - $6,000 for new, $5,400 for upgraders.

SAGE UNVEILS ACCPAC HR SERIES VERSION 6.5: Small and midsized business software provider Sage has launched Version 6.5 of its Accpac HR series. The enhanced solution offers such features as real-time data updates, more employee self-service options, and additional reporting capabilities, along with an improved database.

Employees can now use self-service tools to sign up for benefits during open enrollment and request time off. Managers can view the time-off requests and approve or not online.

Additional reports have been added to the HR Series Report Wizard, including a new EEO-4 report, the New Beneficiary report, OSHA 300, 300A and 301 reports, and an improved remittance report to support consolidated billing.

The new version also includes updated Cobra administration, more detailed information in the help system, upgraded importing tools, and integration with such business applications as Sage Accpac ERP 5.1 or later, Sage Pro ERP 7.1 or later, Sage MAS 90 4.0, and ADP PC Payroll for Windows 4.0, 4.5 and 5.0.

The new HR software ships with Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Desktop Engine as the back-end database - a new industry standard - replacing the Jet (MS Access) database in previous versions. Other enhancements include multi-company support in Applicant Manager, a new Employee Picture report, and improved security for hiding employee Social Security numbers.

Pricing starts at $1,000 for a 25-employee system. For more information, visit www.accpac.com

PWC, HITACHI TEAM IN XBRL PACT: Big Four firm PricewaterhouseCoopers and technology and electronics concern Hitachi America have partnered on a program integrating Hitachi's proprietary XBRL product with PwC's audit management software. Specifically, the pact entails Hitachi's XBRL solution - Xinba - providing users the ability to port information directly to PwC's TeamMate audit software product. Xinba allows users to import, validate and analyze XBRL documents and generate customized reports. The solution uses Web Services to access the XBRL taxonomies and the instances, which can either be stored locally, over a network, or online.

XBRL, or Extensible Business Reporting Language, is a technology that tags financial information through disparate applications and carries it through the business reporting chain.

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