Microsoft upgrades Small Business Manager

Microsoft has upgraded its Small Business Manager software by adding a host of features and introducing flexible pricing.

Microsoft has upgraded its Small Business Manager software by adding a host of features and introducing flexible pricing.

Small Business Manager 7.5 is the next version from Small Business Manager 7.0, which was introduced in December last year.

The product, first released in November 2001, is aimed at businesses that have outgrown off-the-shelf software packages, but with under $5m (£3.1m) in revenue and no more than 25 employees.

"We're on a pretty aggressive product release cycle, about every six months. We are adding big bulks of functionality each time," said Karen Engel, a group product manager in Microsoft's Business Solutions division.

Key additions in Small Business Manager 7.5 are fixed asset management, allowing users to manage depreciation for assets such as equipment and vehicles, and new features for order and inventory management, including support for direct shipment, and management and forecasting of assembly components, Microsoft said.

Other features include support for additional financial reporting tools from FRx Software, a Microsoft subsidiary, and business intelligence tools from Crystal Decisions.

Microsoft has revamped licence and support pricing for Small Business Manager, which is sold through a network of partners. Small Business Manager 7.5 costs $995 (£621) for a single user and $400 (£250) for each additional concurrent user with a maximum of 10 users. Support costs 18% of the licence fee per year.

While the single user price has not changed, Microsoft previously only offered a single user version or a five user version, which was priced at $2,495 (£1,557).

The supplier also offered basic and preferred support plans, which cost $275 (£172) and $850 (£351) per year, respectively, for a single user, and $575 (£359) and $1,150 (£718) per year, respectively, for the five-user version.

Several additions to Small Business Manager 7.5 are available, including an add-on for US payroll management that costs $500 (£312m) and can connect with Automatic Data Processing's (ADP) Payroll Service.

Microsoft Business Solutions offers a range of software and services including products it gained through the acquisitions of Great Plains Software and Navision.

Small Business Manager 7.5 uses the same base technology as Microsoft's Great Plains financial software, allowing for a "seamless upgrade" when the customer outgrows Small Business Manager.

Joris Evers writes for IDG News Service

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