Microsoft business apps: coming to a desktop near you

Smaller companies have many of the same needs of larger companies, but their business process automation needs are not catered for by many vendors, except for in certain areas, such as accounting and online customer relationship management systems.

But the majority of companies in the small business sector use Microsoft Office products in some shape of form. And it is that fact that Microsoft is trying to turn to its advantage. Over the past couple of weeks, the vendor has been communicating its strategy and product roadmap in more detail.

For Microsoft, it is imperative that all of the products that it aims at the small business sector will share the same look and feel of its Office products, and that new features available are contained just as new buttons within the technology that is so familiar to users. For example, in the retail market, Microsoft's existing Axapta and Navision products cater well for the needs of sophisticated, multi-store retailers. But it is the "cash register and cigar boxes" sector that Microsoft is targeting with its new generation of small business products. For this sector, ease of use and flexibility are key.

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