Saturday 2 February 2008

Microsoft Accounting Express 2008

Microsoft Accounting Professional is a possible replacement for Quickbooks, which I've used for years. I had a look at the (free) Express version of MS Office Accounting and the conclusions is yes, it's certainly a viable alternative. At £149.95, it's competitive. I need to investigate further on the update policies. Presumably I have to buy a new version each year to receive the Payroll tax updates?

Here are my impressions so far:

  • It's a 278 MByte download, and requires a whopping 1 GByte to install

  • The usual verbose Microsoft agreement

  • Sample company, try entering a quote: how the hell do I identify the job? Help says: this feature is only availabled in the Pro version

  • Forms are Excel-like with resizable columns - fine

  • The sample company has features that only work in the Pro version

  • A new Window is opened for each form - this can start to get messy

  • Not as operationally neat as Quickbooks; for example, instead of a simple Credit Card Charge form, you use a generalised New Cash Purchase form and have to find the credit card account (each time) on a drop down

  • Foreign currency handling in the Pro version

  • Payroll in the Pro version - though you can maintain Employees and timesheets in Express

  • P&L report looks OK but adverts on the Express version - relevant as this one was for BACS - are intrusive

  • Includes a BACS-linked e-payments service from Albany Software, though there is no clear indication of the costs of set-up and transactions; I'd want a clear indication of these before deciding to use this feature (or whether this feature is a goodreason to buy the product)

  • Invoices can include a status 'watermark'. To turn this off, click through Actions/Manage Word Templates and uncheck the option box

  • Templates can be edited in Word - very flexible xml integration

  • Bank account reconciliation OK, but the form opened the first time with the final balance column too narrow; this happened with the Quotes form too, and is irritating

  • PayPal integration - include a PayPal button in an e-invoice!

  • Other functions that are only available in the Pro version include

  • Sales Order

  • Purchase Order

  • Stock tracking

  • Budgets

  • Recurring documents - so this seems like the only way to enter a standing order or regular monthly payment; it's disappointing that this is only in Pro as it seems a vital feature