Who didn’t see this coming?
If you’ve ever tried to use Office Accounting, you would have seen the end nearing fast.
Why did it fail?
- Entrenched market leader. This is one of those problems that is hard to overcome. For in QuickBooks, Microsoft had a dominant, innovative competitor. Over the years, Intuit continued to improve QuickBooks, making it easier to use, while increasing its power. Microsoft may have been making Office Accounting more powerful, but they certainly didn’t do much in the way of easy.
- Wrong/provider focus. Call this the Vista Syndrome. Why did Vista suck in the eyes of quite a few people? Because of Microsoft’s singular focus on enterprise/IT managers to the detriment of consumers. Guess what? Those same IT managers that Microsoft was pandering to ended up rejecting Vista in droves. For Office Accounting, Microsoft inexplicably created an accounting program that required accounting professionals to use. Are you kidding? How back-asswards was that notion? Contrast that with QuickBooks which was a sort of Festivus, you know, software ‘for the rest of us’, and damn easy to use.
- Requirement to join an association to enjoy full benefits. You had to join the Microsoft Professional Accountants Network (MPAN) to enjoy the full benefits of Office Accounting. I know. Crazy!
- Inexistent marketing: Outside of some CPAs and IT types, how many humans actually saw an ad for Office Accounting?
- Incredibly difficult multi-step installation process. Let’s see: you installed the product, then you installed SQL server express, then… Who came up with this excrement?
- Uncharacteristically hard-to-navigate UI. Uncharacteristically un-Microsoft UI. A real killjoy.
- No upgrade path to Microsoft’s business-class Dynamics suites.
- No engaged ecosystem. What was The WIIFM Factor to build an ecosystem?
- An insane reliance of partners. Who weren’t engaged.
- No ancillary purchases to bolster the product. Did Microsoft attempt to bolster or supplant the product with new acquisitions? Wasn’t Ning available?
- No true integration with Microsoft Office. None whatsoever.
- No cloud-based option. None!
- No commitment. Did you ever get the feeling that this was a toe-in-the-water experiment from Microsoft? Joe Wilcox has an article on BetaNews where he talks about commitment in the context of the new Microsoft retail stores.
In 2008, when plans for MedikLabs were being finalized, and since my accountant was in Los Angeles, I had looked at Microsoft Office Accounting and at QuickBooks (for the very first time).
QuickBooks won out.
For all the reasons above, and because I didn’t doubt that Intuit would continue to innovate in that space.
Until Microsoft gets off its enterprise-only focus, it will continue to fail at new endeavors.
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