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Microsoft’s Business Contact Manager Goes on Its Own

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In a move it says will help small businesses tap the power of customer data with the sophistication that large enterprises enjoy, Microsoft today announced it is offering Microsoft Outlook 2007 with Business Contact Manager as a standalone product.

“There are 40 million small businesses worldwide according to IDC, and they face the same challenges as big businesses, but they don’t have the same resources,” Anne Quaranta, senior product manager of Microsoft Office Outlook with Business Contact Manager and Microsoft Office Accounting.

Microsoft Outlook 2007 with Business Contact Manager is designed to make it easier for those small businesses to organize contact, prospect, and customer information in one place; manage sales leads and business opportunities throughout the sales cycle; create, personalize and track direct marketing campaigns in-house; and centralize project information and task management.

“Currently, many small and home-based businesses keep their contacts in several different places — some in rolodexes, some in spreadsheets,” Takeshi Numoto, Microsoft general manager of Microsoft Office 2007, said in a statement released today. “We understand the importance of good customer management and are providing solutions to help small businesses centralize their customer information so that keeping track of it is more effective and less time consuming.”

Microsoft Outlook 2007 with Business Contact Manager
Business Contact Manager lets you manage customer and sales data within the friendly confines of Microsoft Outlook 2007

The standalone version of Outlook with Business Contact Manager costs $149.95, but is also available in Microsoft Office Professional 2007, Microsoft Office Small Business 2007 and Microsoft Office Ultimate 2007

The contact management application also now offers tight integration with Microsoft Office Accounting 2008. “It’s powerful on its own, but even more so when coupled with Office Accounting,” Quaranta said.

When used with Microsoft Office Accounting 2008, Outlook 2007 with Business Contact Manager offers the capability to view customer financial history and to bill for time and to create invoices directly from Outlook. Quaranta said that Outlook with Business Contact Manager and Office Accounting share the same customer database, so any changes to customer information in one application are automatically reflected in the other.

Microsoft Office Accounting is available in three versions: The free Microsoft Office Accounting Express is designed for startups and home-based businesses and is available in both English and Spanish in the United States. Microsoft also recently announced a U.K. version. The Standard edition is aimed at smaller businesses that need more functionality than the free Express edition, but are looking for an entry level accounting package for an affordable price. Standard includes all the features of Express, plus budgeting tools and 10 additional reports.

Microsoft Office Accounting Professional Plus is designed to make it easier for people to take advantage of popular add-on services Office Accounting offers, such as Payroll and eBay integration. According to Microsoft, this version is particularly well-suited to businesses that currently sell, or plan to to sell, online.

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