Microsoft adds to mid-market product portfolio

Microsoft adds to mid-market product portfolio

Two new products are on the way from Microsoft Business Solutions, Microsoft's development unit for software aimed at small and medium businesses.

Microsoft Business Solutions was formed through the combination of two businesses acquired by Microsoft, Great Plains Software and Navision Software, with Microsoft's own bCentral information portal. The two products announced this week have similarly composite origins.

Microsoft Business Solutions Professional Services Automation (PSA) is targeted at project administrators. Using technology from Great Plains' Solomon line and the enterprise version of Microsoft Project 2002, the software includes tools for team collaboration and recording and tracking various aspects of ongoing projects, including budgets, billing, materials and payroll.

The application is intended to offer users centralised resource management and greater budget control, and is designed for users in a variety of industries with needs as diverse as those of professional services firms and construction companies, according to Microsoft. Microsoft Business Solutions PSA is scheduled for availability in the fourth quarter in North America. Pricing has not yet been announced.

Also announced this week and now available worldwide is the Microsoft Retail Management System (RMS), built on the QuickSell product line Microsoft acquired in May when it bought developer Sales Management Systems. The RMS handles point-of-sale operations such as price lookups, inventory checks and payment processing, along with back-office functions such as inventory creation and replenishment calculations and management of customer accounts and employee information.

Available in several languages, the RMS comes in two versions, one for managing single-store operations and one for multi-store retailers. Pricing starts at $US1,290.

The new products were unveiled at Microsoft Business Solutions' Stampede 2002 conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Microsoft used the event for product demos and to tout the deepening integration between Microsoft Business Solutions' collection of applications and Microsoft technology from outside the unit, including its ubiquitous-in-the-enterprise Microsoft Office suite. It also announced several initiatives aimed at spurring software spending, including a new financing program for small and medium businesses intended to reduce the amount of up-front cash required for purchases. The program will be available through Microsoft Business Solutions resellers.

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