Microsoft Office is accounting; accounting is Microsoft Office. This is all ye know and all ye need to know. Maybe that line won’t rank with some other literary gems. But it describes something of what is happening with accounting applications, indeed all applications. As a press release from Epicor noted in October, the phenomenon is a convergence of separate applications. Epicor made that analysis in the announcement of its Epicor Information Worker, which is a bit of a new category of software, perhaps we should call it Office ride-along application, as vendors increasingly try to make their applications look and work like the Microsoft y packages.. This trend has been quite apparent in the Microsoft financial line as its four accounting applications have taken on more of the look of Microsoft Outlook and implemented portal functionality. Microsoft has talked of the emergence of composite applications, and Epicor seems to be taking a step in that direction, although the company did not use the term. As described by Epicor, IW is delivered as an Office application. Epicor users can synchronize with Outlook, and drag and drop Epicor ERP data from the Epicor Task Pane to Word 2007 or Excel 2007. In other words, the applications no longer work in isolation from each other. To quote the press release: “The continued blurring of the lines between enterprise applications like Epicor and desktop productivity tools like Microsoft Office enables users to seamlessly interact with relevant and timely information wherever they need it and ensures continuity of information sharing and collaboration across the enterprise.” Of course, two can play at that game, especially when one of the companies owns the game. It’s hard to see how any vendor can out-Microsoft Microsoft. Some resellers have commented that Microsoft’s approach to selling the Dynamics line appears to be moving to “Oh, it’s just like Outlook. You know how to use that.” Ease of learning tends to be a very powerful selling tool. And maybe that’s all you need to know.    

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