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on 20 March 2009
Fed up with quirky, flaky software (particularly under Vista) and ever increasing prices for poor support from QuickBooks? Then buy this. I have and have never looked back since.

You need to spend time as there are some differences - like closing your books every year - but it is well worth it!

Don't be put off by the fact that there is no auto transfer processes from QuickBooks and others, MSOAP can import from any other package that can export its contents/list. This is safer too.

Why is Microsoft hiding this great application for small companies?
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VINE VOICEon 5 August 2008
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I run a small business, designing and developing software and have tried many different accounting solutions including Sage; this package is so much simpler to use and does it without losing any functionality.

What you get is exactly what you would expect to see in an accounts package aimed at the U.K. market including VAT and corporation tax calculations, Stock control functions, Customer credit management and even payroll functions. If used in conjunction with Outlook Business Contact Manager the customer management feature is much closer to a full CRM package. This package also integrates with banking functions allowing you to pay invoices directly using BACs and to import electronic bank staements and reconcile your bank statements.

As this is part of the Office suite there is a great deal of integration between this package and the rest of the suite. Creating custom invoices, quotes and letters is so simple using word. any infomation can easily be exported to excell for manipulation. If the functionality is not available in the package the solution uses a SQL server backend so it is a simple task to export the exact infomation you need and to extend the solution where needed.

The use of a SQL server database means this is a fully scaleable solution that can be installed as a 2-tier solution with the database sat on a server and muliple clients all accessing the same database.

In conclusion I can highly recomend this accounting package to anyone who runs a small to medium sized business who want to keep upto date with their account without having to spend too much time managing there accounting software.
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on 9 October 2008
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Numerous other reviewers have commented to varying degrees on the simplicity of this software. All I will say on this matter is that as accounting software goes I wouldn't have thought such software could be made much easier. That said, you will need to have some understanding of what is involved in managing your own accounts for a small business - what you are expected to report back to Companies house in your annual accounts, how VAT must be accounted for, how to handle depreciation etc. I struggled with this side of things to start with personally having no accounting background (I had originally completed my company accounts just using a spreadsheet (Open Office Calc), but once I got my head around things, and with a little help from a friend I found MS Office Accounting to be an easy product to work with.

I want to concentrate a couple of other aspects of the software though.

Firstly, there are various versions of this software available. It would be well worth checking out what each version includes before opting to pay for the Professional version.

I managed to do my accounts for two years with the 'Express' version which is free. Simply download from Microsoft and away you go (there are UK and US versions so make sure you get the right one so that your tax and VAT etc are correct).

Most of the functionality is there in the Express version, but you will need internet access as MicroSoft wants to throw a few ads at you within the programme to entice you to upgrade and to compensate fro giving you free software. These ads are by no means intrusive, and are similar to those that you see at the top of the Opera web browser - what's more they are relevant.

So, what's missing from the Express version.

Not a lot really. The main difference that you see from the Microsoft version comparison page is that Pro includes over 70 reports, and Express includes only 20. One of these reports is a projected cash flow report which may be key for some businesses - personally I didn't miss it.

The inclusion of these extra reports does mean that the front page when you load up the software is a bit more interesting, presenting you with more data in an easy to read fashion in one hit.

Beyond what MicroSoft calls standard functionality there are more differences though.

If you want to track and bill employee time, manage inventory, buy and sell in foreign currencies or allow multi-user access to your accounts (which does require extra licenses, so you pay extra per user), then you'll need the Pro version. You will also need the pro version to manage Sales Orders and Purchase Orders.

What use is accounting software without management of Sales Orders and Purchase Orders?

Well, if you want to purely run your accounts, the version Express is fine. If you want an integrated solution whereby any SO or PO you generate is automatically entered into your accounts then you'll need the Pro version.

This bring me on to the next area I would like to comment on - integration with MS Office.

Obviously MicroSoft wants you to buy it's products rather than someone else's. But when there is a completely free, compatible and largely equivalent it would be nice to be able to use that.

I am an OpenOffice.org office suite user. This software works very well with both Word documents and Excel spreadsheets. These are the document types that Office Accounting uses for its reports and invoice and PO/SO templates. However if you select to manage your templates from within Office Accounting and do not have the required version of MS Office running you simply get a message informing you that you do not have the appropriate software installed.

Now, I haven't had a chance yet to play around with this fully, but the templates are just documents stored in a folder on your computer. It may well be possible to simply edit the documents with the Open Office applications and save them back to the appropriate place meaning you can create customised documents and reports without MS Office Word and MS Office Excel. I will revise my review once I have worked that out - that would certainly be a big saving for many people, though it would be nice, and more user friendly to be able to do it from within the software (frankly, MicroSoft was never going to do that though).

[Update: It seems that, although you can easily edit the templates, unless you can find a way of convincing Office Accounting that you have the correct version of MS Word installed. Unfortunately, this also means that you cannot use any pre-made forms that you may already have paid someone to create for you - unless YOU have the correct version of Word installed you can;t even select the template in the print dialog. This is a real limitation if you wantto present a branded image to your customers.]

All in all, this is a very good package for managing your accounts. If you have the MS Office suite anyway, you will find a very integrated business management solution in the Pro version. If you simply want to manage you accounts, then the Express version is certainly worth a look.

One last note that will save you some time (and a bit of effort/trouble) if you do go down the route of trying out the Express version and later to choose to upgrade to Pro. There is no need to uninstall the Express version to install the Pro version. The installations are identical from what I can tell, the extra features are simply enabled by entering the license key. In fact, if you do uninstall the Express version then install the Pro version, you may be unable to open your old company files (access denied errors). There is a way around this, but it is far simpler and quicker to simply enter the license key and Express becomes Pro instantly.
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VINE VOICETOP 1000 REVIEWERon 27 July 2008
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
If you're starting a small business the most important thing to get right from the start is keeping accurate accounts- by the time Companies House and the Inland Revenue are breathing down your neck with their hot heavy breath come returns submission time it's already too late. This is an intuitive seemingly easy to use package with flow charts to help you through taking and placing orders, keeping an eye on cashflow, getting paid and even doing the payroll for employees. You can follow the process as simply or as complicatedly as you like. It would make it easy for people used to a paper system to easily adapt or for someone setting up for the first time to get into a routine with only the minimal advice of an accountant or book keeper.

Actually 2 weeks before my other half got his review copy he bought Sage accounting. He hoped to cut the amount of money he spent with the accountants next year. I'd be having a conversation while he typed away when suddenly he'd burst into a torrent of screams and curses- he's put through a transaction which was wrong or the work around to pay dividends had just gone up the spout. ~Then the phone line went dead. He couldn't see an easy way to get around the problem and started reentering the data again in despair. It took him just half an hour to reenter everything into Office Accounting Pro. Get something wrong- void the transaction of course- pay yourself a dividend, a doddle, go back to using the cash accounting scheme for paying VAT- works fine (not in Sage which was why the accountant was so expensive).

Now all that needs to happen is for Sage's stranglehold to be broken on accountants- although this program will export into Sage if needed. In the meantime I have peace and harmony at least.
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Very briefly, I bought this product last year and eventually found an accountant to guide me through my particular needs. And did I need it!

It was not that intuitive for a non-accountant who was misdirected by another accountant knowing less than me!

This version requires an SP download which took ages - as did installing it. So I was less than impressed when my laptop died and I had to go through the whole thing all over again.

There is a 2009 upgrade but it seems to be just some reports and none of the benefits given to US users, so is Microsoft going to dump it? Where would that leave me?

As an non-accountant, I also do not know whether I should close previous years. There is no guide per se to provide directions... although there is a forum which I can and will post the same query.

It does not prompt if you make a wrong entry meaning you have to void it, keeping the entry on the system for posterity (for audit purposes)... although batch journal entries made it easier to avoid silly mistakes.

I am still horribly nervous with it, hence not closing previous books. Pity, really, as it was Microsoft's name which made me buy it in the first place.

Also, when I re-installed it, it chose the wrong backup file and more than 100 journal entries had disappeared.

I eventually found another which I hope has them but, in all honesty, it has not freed the stress levels when dealing with one's accounts through software.

I am currently at the stage of wondering whether to plough on or start afresh with a different package (based on Microsoft's apparent lack of enthusiasm for the UK market).
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VINE VOICETOP 1000 REVIEWERon 19 July 2008
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I never thought the day would come I'd say this since Microsoft, inadvertently, started making buggy software after 2001 for some reason (after effects of the Millenium?)... But this is actually great!

In the past, M.S have typically have released some poor software that would, apparently, integrate well into your Windows. Usually they would either have plenty of nice little bugs, or would just generally have an adverse effect on your PC. Windows ME springs to mind, along with the odd version of Microsoft Office (which was over-complicated after 2002).

Office Accounting Pro feels like a breath of fresh air though. It would appear M.S have got to grips with the aspect of not only releasing a 'finished' program, but to make it easy to install, and perform smoothly. It's a first time for me, but they even bundled in a "Quick Start" guide poster in the box. Could it be they're actually attempting to help us?

The program itself is incredibly easy to use. Our main reason for getting our hands on it was for my dad, who has his own small business, and considering it was part of the Vine Program, it was a good opportunity to see whether a PC program could enhance organisation.

So far, it really has. Some great features that are actually quite universal for the computer user (this is also a family PC) are the likes of 'Invoice Creation', where you can make your own Invoices; handy for selling on ebay etc. Their is also the opportunity of web-editing, and M.S seem to put alot of emphasis on having a 'PayPal' tab on you site. Though we haven't attempted this amazing feat yet, as is hyped up by the packaging...

The RRP for such a program seemed a little high to us. Considering you could actually buy an upgrade edition of Mac OS X for under 100 quid, paying over that for a program which is, basically, a more productive version of M.S Excel with flashier features, seems overpriced. Let it be known too this also a 1 User Licence.

Overall were really impressed and it's made a big difference to the way we do things. Auto sums and some nice graphs help put finances into perspective, and considering we've only touched what's offered, it's plainly obvious this would satisfy even the most demanding of business owner.

Well done Microsoft on successfully completing some software! Now you you just need to finish Vista...

(SPECS: This was installed on Windows XP SP2. It requires roughly 1 GB of HDD.)
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a very useful package from Microsoft, making accounting for small businesses relatively straightforward. It interfaces easily to other products in the Office Suite, such as Excel, to make managing and sharing data between Microsoft applications very user friendly; it can also email your Word documents as PDFs. There is a handy online Resource Centre for how-to articles, demos and tips to get you going quickly.

Office Accounting Professional 2008 is accredited by the Institute of Chartered Accountants and, as the name suggests, will meet the needs of accounting professionals as well as being fairly easy to use for the average small businessman. It loads easily and was registered and up and running with the company details within half an hour of starting out.

If you are currently using Sage then the programme makes it easy to import your data to save having to start from scratch. It has more features than will probably be needed by a lot of users but, if required, it has links to PayPal, BACS, VAT, Payroll processing and the printing of cheques and forms.

Most users will be familiar with Microsoft's other products and will find this programme quite intuitive to use. It looks and feels like a Microsoft product and will therefore seem familiar in appearance and operation to other Office applications, making it feel comfortable for new users.

If you're a small business looking to streamline your financial operations you could do well to consider this product from Microsoft. It may help you in ways you may have not yet considered.


I have received this update from Microsoft this week:

Dear valued Microsoft® Office Accounting customer:

We are writing to let you know that we will no longer distribute Microsoft Office Accounting after November 16, 2009.

On October 30, 2009, Microsoft will transfer customer support for Office Accounting in the UK to Mamut Software Ltd. Product support for Office Accounting will continue in accordance with the published Microsoft product support life cycle.
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have a small business and have previously used Excel for all accounts but, unless you're a more proficient user (which I am not), it has its limitations so the time had come to look for something more suitable and this package appeared to fit the bill.

I'll admit that when I first loaded this I thought I'd made a mistake. It has so many features that it looked so daunting that I backed away and reverted to my trusty but clumsy Excel spreadsheets.

Then, gradually, I sat down with the package once again and without having to resort to any of the help screens I tentatively imported my data into it, set up the bank account and a few 'test' invoices to get the hang of it and, despite my earlier apprehension, it's been a godsend.

It offers far more functions than I'll probably ever need but small businesses grow and this package has the scope to grow with mine so there won't be any need to start again with replacement software in a few years' time.

I've been running Office Accounting Professional alongside my old Excel spreadsheets for the last two months but the time has come to move forwards now my confidence with it has grown.

It will soon be time to put together my end of year accounts and, for the first time ever, all figures are immediately to hand to produce accurate and almost automated trading accounts. There will be no need to appoint an accountant or rely on supplementing the old spreadsheets with scraps of paper bearing my scribbled supplementary notes and figures. For the first time, I feel in control of my accounts and that they are professionally presented.

Despite my very slow and cautious start, I will never revert to my old method and I would recommend this software to anyone with a small business. For a complete novice like myself with no accountancy background, it may appear overwhelming and complex to start off but take it a step at a time and soon it becomes second nature to produce invoices and record sales, track cash flow and all other business transactions. Stick with it and I'm sure you will quickly value the software as much as I do.
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VINE VOICEon 21 July 2008
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Accounting Pro 2008 is a solid piece of accounting software that utilises MS Office to automate a variety of financial tasks. The interface is basically a hub that interacts with, for example, Outlook to archive transactions or automatically create invoices. The professional edition comes with various networking options, stock control, multi-currency and a number of other features.

It's important to decide whether this or the free to download Accounting Express is best for your business. Express offers less but you may not need all the extras Professional has so it's worth investigating the two before you spend any money.

One of the big problems I encountered with Accounting Professional 2008 is its system requirements. 1 GHz processor or higher, 212 MB RAM minimum, XP or higher, Office 2007. Not only that but loading up the software was a long and laborious task. It means that computers, even just 2 years old (as mine is), will most likely have problems running this software.

Once started you're taken through a setup wizard where you will input all your company details. However it's worth noting that their choices of business type seems quite limited (they didn't even have "hotel"), which seems a big oversight on Microsoft's part. After that you can begin utilising the various options. Accounting Pro performs reporting particularly well and you can link up a variety of reports to get an overview of you're activities. You can also link up with MS Outlook to keep tabs of your suppliers and customers. This can be networked with other users. Also, for an additional fee a complete payroll package can be utilised, however the 9.98 a month asking price is a bit much as similar packages are easily available for free.

Another small problem I encountered was MS Accounting Pro's lack of support for packages like QuickBooks and as such this years package may loose some of it's usefulness. However, Sage is compatible. Some other kinks in ease of form creation also need to be addressed.

Overall though Accounting Pro is a good alternative if you're looking for some quality accounting software. Despite its flaws it is (mostly) easy to use and existing forms and spreadsheets can easily be imported and edited. This ease of use coupled with the fact it utilises Office (which most of us are very familiar with and use extensively) makes it a winner. However make sure you look at alternatives as it may not be 100% right for you're business.
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on 21 July 2008
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This software as well as other available software on the market do all the tasks I needed, the difference between this and other software is that this actually does a very good job of it without you having to learn how other developers forms operate, this is Microsoft through and through making the forms easy to use. There are a good handful of features that I will probably not use but this is not to say I wont in a couple of years time, this to me shows that I can possibly grow into it.

The Good:
* Customer / Supplier database.
* Template Editor.
* Flow chart style front end.
* Easy to send customers invoices, receipts and letters.
* Works flawlessly with Word and Excel for templates and data importing, also has an add-in if you use Business Contacts Manger in Outlook 2007.

The Bad:
* Limited amount of business set ups to choose from straight out of the box (only about 10 to choose from otherwise like me you have to click other and go through a couple more menus to define your business type.)
* Not really set up for U.K. Banking like the U.S. version is, there are no U.K. banks in the drop down list. It will allow you to import CSV files that most if not all online bank a/c's will export though.
* Features left in the menus from the U.S. conversion that is not yet working in the U.K. version.
* Works only with Office 2003 and 2007 for template editing.
* U.S. terminology (especially banking related).
* Understanding which banking pot applies to a specific field (i.e. adding products and stating which parts of the business bank a/c money come in and goes out).

With a flow chart at the front end that is clickable for the task you wish to carry out makes the usability of this delightful and simple.

This is a great piece of software that given a few hours you'll have your business information up to date and a good sense of self achievement that your completely organised, this does what it states on the tin and will definitely be useful for small business start ups through to medium sized companies with up to 100 or so employees. Great software in my eyes and I can definitely recommend it!!!
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