Generally, once a company picks a financial package, it doesnt tend to leave that package unless it fails the company completely or it outgrows the packages capabilities. New companies tend to use what their accountants recommend. Given that, Jones says, "Microsoft will have to court the accounting professional community, which theyve done with their Great Plains division. The company has some experience." Ever since Microsoft failed to buy Intuit a decade ago, it has gone after Intuits core markets. Microsoft Money battles with Intuits Quicken in the personal finance market. And Microsoft has made several other forays into the small-business accounting market over the years, mostly by licensing programs written by other developers. It took Microsoft 10 years to build what it wanted to buy then.In two years, youll probably be able to walk into a computer store and buy something along the lines of "Microsoft Office in a Box" that has financials, personnel tracking (time and billing) and contact management, and that might even keep track of orders and inventory. You can expect it to integrate with Outlook and your calendar, and be able to exchange data with Excel and Word easily. Given the expected delivery date, I doubt QuickBooks will be erased from the face of the earth over the next year. But dont underestimate Microsofts ability to be very competitive, especially with its track record of low prices as it tries to penetrate a new market. Jones says, "With luck, there will be enough new companies starting up that all of the programs will have a good share of the market." Check out eWEEK.coms Finance Center at http://finance.eWEEK.com for the latest news, views and analysis on financial applications and services for the enterprise and small businesses.
"Theyve had 10 years to figure this out. Im willing to bet that theyve done it," says Jones. "Who knows? Maybe it will be an abysmal failure, but why should it be? The technology has changed a lot, and theyve had more experience at small-company technology than anyone else."