Review: Has Microsoft Accounting Caught Up To QuickBooks?

Microsoft Office

With Outlook and Word, small businesses can extract data from Accounting and create bulk emails using out of the box Word templates. Email formats also are more flexible. In addition to Word, users can attach email files in HTML, PDF and XPS.

Excel no longer needs to be considered an intermediate product to small businesses that are still deciding on an accounting package. Instead, Accounting 2008 is making Excel into a transitional product with a new set of import templates. Users can adjust to using Accounting 2008 while working with Excel applications. Microsoft also has outflanked competitors by making Excel its key integration product.

Since data from Office tools and third party applications must land at some point inside Excel, files converted into the Excel format are automatically mapped into Accounting 2008. The new wizards in Accounting do a job in translating data fields.

Finally, Accounting 2008 is catching up to QuickBooks by including a Resource Center with lots of tutorials, demos, community forums and financial information for small businesses. RSS feeds are integrated into the workspace. A new accountant finder is an extremely useful feature in the Resource Center. The finder identifies trained accountants in a zip code.

Sponsored post

However, engineers checked the accountants within five miles of our location in New York City and only found five names. Microsoft has a long road ahead to catch up to QuickBooks's popularity.

Intuit's highly successful interactive features for CPAs may be threatened. Accounting 2008 is making huge headways in the way it handles transactions and supports CPAs. For instance, CPAs can create new standard chart of accounts and set them up remotely. Accounting arrives with far more business templates for setting up companies.

Communication is managed by Office Live sites. CPAs request and receive books from Accounting. Returning books can only be done through the Accountant View. CPAs can now maintain multiple accounts from the same view. Small business can even embed calculators, and view specific tax regulations from their CPA site. Everything is collected and managed by the Resource Center.

Hola CMP amigos! Microsoft Accounting 2008 comes in a Spanish version that works in bilingual mode. Both, Spanish and English speaking users can use the software simultaneously at different workstations. Access to features is also configurable in a bilingual business. However, technical resources and training material is only in English.

The Microsoft Accounting developer team has done a good overall job at simplifying the panes and providing access to information. They haven't even missed adding some details that can irritate novice users. For instance, the QuickStart pane that everyone gets when starting the software and shuts off almost by instinct but immediately regrets doing it. Accounting now has a QuickStart button on its main toolbar, so that new users can reactivate the starting pane.

Accounting 2008 is still evolving and trying to catch up to QuickBooks in some areas. QuickBooks has by far the largest ISV following, so the software integrates with many third party products. The software is also stable and matured.

QuickBooks 2008 startup steps are still slow and somewhat antiquated. QuickBooks immediately jumps into its workflow views, forcing new comers to head straight for the help files. Accounting provides more information in its Outlook-like sliders.

QuickBooks's learning center tutorial is more limited than the Accounting Resource Center but gets the job done. The tutorials are simply outstanding. Interestingly, by looking at tutorials from both vendors, users can see where Microsoft got the idea of its Resource Center feature.

The biggest improvement in QuickBooks 2008 is the hot book transfer capability. Accountants can grab end of year books even as companies continue working. The copy is then synchronized for the next period. Other improvements in QuickBooks are not nearly as exciting as the ones in Accounting.

As far as technical innovation, Microsoft Accounting 2008 wins this fight. Nevertheless, Accounting has a long way to go to win the hearts and minds of CPAs in the US.