back to article Microsoft stuffs Sage with free accounts software

Microsoft today blew a raspberry in the face of rival Sage with the launch of its own UK accounting software punted at SMBs (small and medium-sized businesses). Redmond has also adopted a biz model not typically associated with the software King Kong, with a basic version of its Office Accounting 2008 product being made …

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  1. Tony Bryer

    And only £1000 (+cassette recorder)

    Intuit must feel a bit threatened by this too. I've used QuickBooks for ten years and think it a really nice piece of work, but MS have already sunk Quicken and no doubt plan to do the same to QB.

  2. alain williams Silver badge

    Just free to gain market share ...

    once M$ have killed Sage their product will no longer be free. Remember that the early versions of MS Office were free (or almost so), now it costs a lot.

    Anyway: who would trust M$ enough to not send bits of accounting information home ?

  3. Martin Owens

    Another one for the dust biting

    *shrug* we've got a head start at least with accounting software, lots of lovely accounting packages in the repositories; perhaps sage will now come out with a linux version.

  4. Gordon Fecyk
    Thumb Up

    If MS forces Sage to improve, I'm all for it

    Accountants: Trusted with the most sensitive financial data, demanding a secure accounting platform on a secure operating system.

    So why does Sage require its clients to use "Power User" access? Are accountants are too impatient to watch ACCPAC's installer program do a proper job?

    http://www.antiwindowscatalog.com/?mode=product&id=115

    Bring it on, Microsoft.

  5. Kwac

    'Dumping'

    is against WTO rules, isn't it?

    Or does it only apply to Chinese shoes, Indian cotton, etc.?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Gordon Fecyk

    "Accountants: Trusted with the most sensitive financial data, demanding a secure accounting platform on a secure operating system.

    So why does Sage require its clients to use "Power User" access?"

    Too true, too bloody true...

    We have two finance machines that keep getting infected with different malware apps (porn popups etc...), purely because we've got to give these users more access than they _SHOULD_ have on a secured network. The users have been hit by a couple of dodgy advert iframe exploits which led to the initial infection, its taken us months to clean the majority of crap out of the machines. However, it still has some issues because of this.

    As far as I'm concerned this is the fault of SAGE and nobody else. Maybe we should forgo paying their extortionate support costs this year until they come here, fix the machine (of which they have very little expertise anyway), and reimburse us for the wasted time of having to clean malware from the machine, over and over again.

    Currently standing at about 20 days of my time.

  7. James Pickett

    UK spec?

    Does this software know about UK accounting habits, like VAT?

    If so, it should give Sage a run for their money, and I can't say I disapprove - they behave just as badly as MS once they've got captive clients.

  8. Alan Gregson
    Gates Halo

    US version!

    All links take you to the US version, has anyone got a link to the UK express edition?

  9. Anthony

    UK version

    http://www.msofficeaccounting.co.uk/express.aspx

  10. Shaun Sheppard

    UK version

    www.msofficeaccounting.co.uk

    It supports UK VAT, and it can automatically calculate PAYE and NI, that is free at the moment, but from april 2008 that feature will cost almost £10 a month.

    I've downloaded it and had a quick look, and for £150 it seems like a good peice of kit for the professional version, also having the advantage that it works like most other MS products, which will probably suite most small businesses.

  11. Gordon Fecyk
    Joke

    @Anonymous Coward, re: Sage and accounting 'power users'

    Fortunately for us, there is an acceptable workaround. The link I posted earlier includes instructions for making Accpac 5 work without needing power user access.

    Thanks to the various support sites and forums, by the way, for doing Sage's job for them...

    ...now my problem is convincing the bean counters they don't need power user or admin access anymore. Maybe the next big virus attack will help. "I'm sorry, Ms. Client: the rest of the network machines didn't get infected with that new virus that our anti-virus software couldn't catch without an update. But I'm pretty sure the accountants know why theirs did..."

    I wonder if Microsoft is getting sick of all these so-called professional developers writing shoddy code for their OS, that they're deciding to take matters into their own hands. Sure, the real reason is "Embrace and Extend (and Engulf)," but I can't help but look forward to the fringe benefits of the 800lb Gorilla forcing their competition to evolve or die.

  12. Nick Ryan Silver badge
    Flame

    UK version

    UK version? What UK version? There is only one country on the planet, only one platform, only one "operating system", only one word processor, only one spreadsheet, only one web browser.

    Why'd you ever want a choice?

  13. Ian Michael Gumby
    Flame

    @alain and @Kwac

    Alain, you are correct that Microsoft is doing this to gain market share.

    You are incorrect that the current price you see for office is set high so that Microsoft can make a nice profit.... (See below...)

    And Kwac, this isn't "dumping" per se.

    The issue is that Microsoft, is yet again using its position as a monopoly to edge out any competition in a marketplace by being able to seed the market place with a loss leader.

    When the courts ruled against Microsoft's practices, it raise the prices for office to what it should have been in the beginning. So the current price for office should have been the original price. (give or take). And how do you dump software which isn't physical?

    The point being that Microsoft used its vast capital resources to starve out the competition and then capture or hook the marketplace on their products. SMB companies can not afford to migrate from one product to another. There isn't a net gain from switching platforms while there are costs associated to the migration.

    If I were Sage, or the DoJ or its EU counterpart, I would open an investigation against Microsoft. (Sage? they should consider a lawsuit.)

    What would be considered allowable business practice for a company may be considered illegal if said company was declared a monopoly. (It its.) And there is already precedence of this in the word processing industry. (WordPerfect anyone?)

  14. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    @ Martin Owens

    Sage already do a Linux version but I believe it is (currently) only for the top end system.

    This may change :)

  15. paulc
    Alert

    idiots...

    "We have two finance machines that keep getting infected with different malware apps (porn popups etc...), purely because we've got to give these users more access than they _SHOULD_ have on a secured network. The users have been hit by a couple of dodgy advert iframe exploits which led to the initial infection, its taken us months to clean the majority of crap out of the machines. However, it still has some issues because of this."

    why the heck are they exposed to the internet??????? or even to the rest of your network... airgap them and use a separate local network if they have to share a printer...

    Our accounts machines are not on our network, they are on their own isolated one... for two reasons. 1) to prevent viruses etc. from getting in 2) to prevent them from being hacked by anyone else

  16. Gordon Fecyk
    Boffin

    @paulc, re: idiots...

    "why the heck are they exposed to the internet??????? "

    Ever try to tell an accountant they can't check their Hotmail? Or their favorite news / weather / sports / pr0n / etc site? Or they can't bring their USB keys to work, or you can't let the CRA / IRS / whatever rep coming over for a visit use theirs? They're just as human as the rest of us.

    A separate network with its own server? Those same accountants will tell you that they don't have the budget for it.

    Preventing malware is easy: Don't let the accountants (or anyone else for that matter) use power user or admin. That includes yourself, at least for day-to-day stuff. Preventing hacking is tricker, since it involves teaching said accountants to use long passwords and to change them every so often, but they should appreciate that given the sensitive data they work with.

    At the end of my day, the hardest job isn't preventing unwanted software or preventing hack attacks. It's convincing my clients that PC tweaking isn't part of their daily work.

  17. Chris Young

    Anything is better ...

    Anything, and I mean ANYTHING, that replaces Sage has to be worth a look.

    Sage has to be one of the worst software applications that I have had the misfortune to deal with, and as for the cheek of expecting you to pay for support for a product you've bought ... they deserve anything they get IMHO.

    :-)

  18. Alan

    I'm sticking with Quicken 98

    ...and it runs on its own Dell 350 MHz via a wifi/ VNC setup under Windows 98, backed up onto a Zip 100. Has withstood the test of time.

  19. HKmk23
    Gates Halo

    Sage.....Make Microsoft look like philanthropist's

    Anything that stuffs Sage is good.

    I have never come across a more uncaring, liberty taking bunch of software suppliers that actually don't even know anything about accounting let alone their "products" in my life.

  20. this

    got this email from Microsoft - I couldn't agree more

    Downloaded the program to have a look at it (it's BIG).

    Then got this email from Microsoft with amusing and apposite typo:

    ...We know accounting can be intimidating, especially when you're busy building your business. But with Accounting Express, you'll be up and running in no time because we've made it powerful, yet easy to use. So, you can focus on important things like making your business flourish, and leave the nitty gritty f accounting to us. Enjoy!...

    I say ' f accounting ' too.

  21. this

    got this email from Microsoft - I couldn't agree more

    Downloaded the program to have a look at it (it's BIG).

    Then got this email from Microsoft with amusing and apposite typo:

    ...We know accounting can be intimidating, especially when you're busy building your business. But with Accounting Express, you'll be up and running in no time because we've made it powerful, yet easy to use. So, you can focus on important things like making your business flourish, and leave the nitty gritty f accounting to us. Enjoy!...

    I say ' f accounting ' too.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    so i dont have to use sage anymore? thank truck for that!

    i have never encountered such a mickey-mouse application as the appoplecticly(*) annoying sage.

    "sorry that report is too big to give you a CSV I'll have to send it to the printer"

    "sorry i only half-posted your sales ledger transaction. maybe you could pay a consultant to fix your out-of-balance nominal ledger"

    "oh dear how slow am i?"

    Jumped up single-user application trying to masquerade as a proper multi-user accounting system. "best practise" to install software on a network share and then have to install a darn ODBC connection identically pointed at the darn network share on all the accountant's PCs..

    I nearly decided paying for SAP was worth the effort to at least know that both sides of my postings will get into the ledger.

    and dont get me on the "no standard way to interface a batch of transactions" into the effing thing.

    its not that we'll use the MS version - just that if this kills Sage we'll have to move to a Real accounting system...

    (*) If this isn't a word it should be.

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