The competitive outlook for QuickBooks became a bit cloudier since Microsoft Corp. stepped into the arena, announcing its new Microsoft Small Business Accounting (SBA) package, also slated for fall release. While Microsofts product can be expected to experience all the predictable growing pains of a first-generation Microsoft product, the giant from Redmond, Wash., has enough clout and staying power to give Intuit some serious heartburn.
Early indications are that QuickBooks offers a richer set of industry-specific features than Microsofts product, as well as somewhat better hooks into popular non-Microsoft programs such as ACT. However, Microsoft SBA appears to offer a particularly smooth interface with Word and Excel, which may be a selling point with small businesses that are adopting a business accounting package for the first time. At this point, most small businesses dont use any bookkeeping software at all.