Microsoft eyes greater SMB share

Redmond's new offering will take direct aim at small business software sellers like Intuit and Best Software. It will include CRM migration options.

Microsoft Corp. on Friday revealed plans for a new edition of Microsoft Office for the small business that takes aim at established vendors of small business accounting and financial software.

Code named Magellan, Microsoft Office for small business will be available in late 2005 and will include applications currently in Office 2003 along with a small business accounting program, a financial management application and an updated Business Contact Manager.

Microsoft will provide migration options for small businesses using Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager to Microsoft CRM. The release will provide direct competition to vendors in the small and medium business market like Intuit Inc.'s Quickbooks and Best Software's ACT!.

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"Honestly, there's no shortage of contact managers out there," said Denis Pombriant, managing principal of Beagle Research Group in Stoughton, Mass. "I'm not sure what Microsoft brings. This one will carry the Microsoft logo so it'll be interesting to see who it appeals to."

Pricing information was not disclosed.

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