Vendors take ‘dim view’ of Microsoft

Sage has refused to rule out the possibility of calling for Microsoft to be hauled over the regulatory coals when it bundles a new accounting module ð- Small Business Accounting ð- into its hugely popular Office software.

The FTSE100 accounting software provider is concerned that if Office is used to ‘leverage’ the accounting module into the marketplace, then Microsoft could be using its ‘monopoly’ unfairly ð a situation that could require the attention of competition authorities in the US and Europe.

‘It would seem odd if the competition commissions didn’t look into the situation,’ said Sage UK managing director Paul Stobart.

He also revealed that other software vendors have taken a ‘dim view’ of Microsoft’s plans. ‘We have chats with other software vendors -ð the subject of Microsoft has come up on a few occasions.’

A Sage spokesman said that a complaint would depend on how Microsoft prices and bundles the module into Office. ‘If we need to react, then we will,’ the spokesman added. ‘But we think this view is an industry issue ð- not Sage-specific.’

Intuit, which sells millions of copies of its QuickBooks software in the US and UK, could also join Sage in its battle.

Microsoft has taken a bullish approach to its new accounting module and has attempted to deflect any possibility that it could face US or European competition authorities over its handling of the situation.

‘Customers will have the choice between versions of Office with and without Small Business Accounting. Also, customers do not require Microsoft Office to run Small Business Accounting,’ said a Microsoft spokeswoman.

‘Small business is a largely fragmented and under-served market today ð Microsoft believes there is ample opportunity for multiple vendors to co-exist and serve the technology needs of the nearly 40 million small businesses worldwide.’

Microsoft’s head of small and medium-sized business division Orlando Ayala has already cleared the module’s path to market, according to reports. Ayala has been reported in the press as saying that the packaging of the module has taken time, but it has now been cleared by lawyers.

A November release for the module is tentatively pencilled in for the US, with the UK set to be the first European country to roll out Office with the module on-board six to 12 months later.

The first news about an accounting module for Office prompted the software industry’s leading figures to claim it would have a ‘massive impact’ on its rivals, clients and even accountants.

The IAAITC’s Dave Reynolds said the launch would change the whole ‘dynamic’ of the accounting and business software industry, with the likes of Sage or Intuit forced to raise their games.

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