Earlier today, I had a 30 minute play with Microsoft's newly minted Dynamics Entrepreneur Solution 2008. This is Microsoft's crack at a business suite aimed at the very small business market. Currently only available in the Netherlands, Entrepreneur will support up to five concurrent users and costs €795 ($1135) per seat. Fully integrated to the Office suite of desktop applications, Entrepreneur consists of finance, sales and marketing, inventory and purchase management with reporting thrown in.
Entrepreneur is a cut down version of Dynamics NAV with screens that are reminiscent of the old Navision product, only slicker. A nice touch is the ability to create forms based invoices for electronic transmission by punching out to pre-built Word templates. Why they chose not to offer Save As...PDF is another story but that will get resolved by implementers. Setup is wizard driven and so with limited options, it should be possible to configure a fresh install within a day.
Microsoft sees Entrepreneur as a volume play against both Sage and Intuit. However, the big issue they face is how to structure the reseller operation. Microsoft sees Entrepreneur as a box shift on steroids where the reseller has some implementation skills but doesn't necessarily have the capability to develop custom solutions. Support will be provided by what Microsoft calls 'value added distributors' who themselves may have a network of sales businesses. This type of network does not currently exist.
Microsoft is on to something. There has not been an integrated product release for this market segment in some years and it will be interesting to see how well it is accepted. While Intuit (US) and Sage (UK) represent formidable competition, Entrepreneur gives Microsoft a solution that could be the springboard for selling the higher end products as businesses grow. It's a nice theory but success will require careful channel management.
Microsoft has not fixed a firm date for release into the English speaking markets but the whisper is around Q2 2008.