Microsoft Weighs New Play For Low-End Accounting

Microsoft is hoping Magellan can take it where Microsoft Profit and bCentral Finance Manager could not. The destination? Small business accounting, a market dominated by Intuit's QuickBooks. After several failed attempts, the software giant will once again make a foray into small business accounting with a project code-named Magellan, sources said.

Details are sketchy. A Microsoft spokeswoman confirmed the code name, and said the company continues to investigate the best ways to serve small businesses, but that it is too early to talk product plans. But sources close to the company say a product is in the works that could come out as soon as the next calendar year. "This is Microsoft's attempt to go after Intuit's QuickBooks in the low end. Microsoft said it's coming down the pike and I think it's a very smart move," said a source who has been briefed.

This is not uncharted territory for Microsoft. In the small business accounting market and in personal finance and tax software, the company has been repeatedly drubbed by Intuit's QuickBooks, Quicken and TurboTax, respectively, observers said.

Microsoft launched Money against Quicken in 1991. Intuit unveiled QuickBooks accounting in 1992 and Microsoft followed with Microsoft Profit the next year but ended up selling it off. It also launched a hosted offering, bCentral Finance Manager in April 2001, only to discontinue it the following October.

On the personal tax front, Microsoft launched then nixed TaxSaver, which competed with Quicken's TurboTax. "They killed it after one year. They gave it away but still got only five percent market share," according to one financial analyst who followed both companies at the time.

News source: CRN - Microsoft Weighs New Play For Low-End Accounting

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