Microsoft has announced the launch of Microsoft Office Accounting 2008, aimed at small businesses, from sole traders to businesses with up to 25 employees, with the aim of helping them more effectively manage their business finances.

With the claim that it works like all Microsoft Office applications, the news software integrates with Excel, Word and Outlook and users can import existing financial data from other applications, such as Excel and Sage.

Small businesses can enhance Office Accounting with add-on hosted services such as Office Live for sharing financial data with accountants, PayPal for invoicing customers, Bacs for electronic payments and integrated payroll for managing employee data and calculating payroll.

Two versions of Office Accounting are available. Office Accounting Express is free and is designed for new and home-based businesses.

Office Accounting Professional costs £149.95 and offers additional features such as stock management, job costing and multi-user access. Customers can download both versions, including a free 60 day trial of Office Accounting Professional, from the Microsoft website.