Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water along comes a new Accounting Package in the form of Microsoft Office Accounts 2008.
Despite being annonyingly slow it would seem to offer some huge benefits to the average small business, namely that it's free. Zip, Rien, Nothing.
Yep, the "Express" version can be downloaded for free. The Professional Version is £149 which gets you Order Processing, Stock, Multi Currency etc. And then you can add further users at £149 each.
Initial impressions are that it's fairly easy to use and if you are new to accounts no more difficult to learn than Sage 50.
A huge advantage is that it can allegedly handle Pay Pal transactions and simply import data from Excel spreadsheets.
Sage developers will be interested to learn the SDK is free, and that you can "hook" into the application itself, customise Labels on forms and add your own menu items and corresponding forms that can access data in the application itself. And it's free (I think I might have mentioned that already). Bad news is that you will have to finally learn dot net.
Downsides are probably that you won't be able to find an accountant who has it or knows what to do with it. Similiarly your average book keeper will run screaming from the room. Then there's the queston of Support which is something that Sage are (albeit expensively) quite good at. With accounts you have the dual problem of supporting users who may have problems with the actual software but also have absolutely no idea what a debit or credit is never mind a nominal ledger.
I predict that Sage will suddenly acquire some new features and pricing structure...