Microsoft has also lowered the price of the more full-featured Office Accounting 2007 Professional to $150--down from $180 for Microsoft Small Business Accounting 2006--while enhancing the program with more online services, better security, and tight integration with the upcoming Microsoft Office 2007 Small Business Edition.
Given that it's free, Microsoft Office Accounting Express is a good choice for mom-and-pop shops that could use accounting software on the cheap. By contrast, Intuit's QuickBooks SimpleStart for business bookkeeping newbies costs $99. We don't recommend that users of QuickBooks Pro or Premier switch, though, because QuickBooks is the better bookkeeper with a superior interface and more third-party applications that support it. Microsoft Office Accounting Professional, which competes featurewise with the $200 QuickBooks Pro, has a variety of tools that Express does not. For instance, Accounting Pro has multicurrency support, an essential feature for businesses selling to international customers. It has multiuser capabilities that allow up to eight people to use the program, while Express is built for one user only. And Pro's inventory management capabilities are essential for businesses that need to track and reorder products. However, both the free and paid versions of Office Accounting 2007 allow you to manage eBay sales.
In our tests, it took nearly an hour to install Office Accounting Express 2007, a 338MB download, on Windows XP. Once we got it running, the clean, flowchart-style interface earned high marks, borrowing more than a few design concepts from QuickBooks. It's easy to set up a company and manage the accounting basics, such as invoicing, payments, general ledger, accounts payable, online banking with hundreds of financial institutions, and so on. Your accountant can also access your data. Both the Express and Professional versions of Microsoft Office Accounting 2007 can import data from Microsoft Money and Excel as well as from Intuit QuickBooks.