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Microsoft Business Solutions—the small and mid-sized business applications arm of Microsoft Corp.— announced on Monday the availability of Great Plains 8.0.

According to the company, the upgraded suite comes with some 120 enhancements that amount to more functionality for distribution, manufacturing and project accounting; better usability throughout the suite; and integration with the Microsoft’s Portal 2.5 and Office 2003.

Most notably, the upgraded suite has a new look and feel that is tailored to that of Office Outlook 2003—lending a familiarity to the new interface. The integration with Office also lets users attach maps and directions from Microsoft MapPoint to documents.

Version 8.0’s Portal integration provides new modules for online requisition management, expense entry and approval and electronic delivery of sales documents, officials said.

Microsoft also upgraded the suite’s analytic capabilities with the addition of MBS for Analytics–FRx 6.7 from Denver, Co.-based Frx Software Corp., a subsidiary of MBS that develops analytics software. The 6.7 module brings enhanced reporting and currency translation features, as well as tighter integration with Microsoft Office Excel 2003, and better support for the XBRL [eXtensible Business Reporting Language] 2.0 reporting standard.

Standards groups released a draft of XBLR 2.1 in the fall. Click here to read more of its features.

Available now in North America, Great Plains 8.0 will be released in some countries in the U.K., Latin America, Africa, Australia and New Zealand later this year. The Standard Edition of the software—geared toward what Microsoft refers to as the smaller mid-market—is priced at about $4,500 for a single-user solution. The Professional Edition, slated more for mid-market customers, starts at $6,500 per user.

To read an analysis of Microsoft’s Business Solutions division, click here.

Great Plains is one of four ERP suites under Microsoft’s Business Solutions division. The other three product lines—Navision, Axapta and Solomon, will see upgrades later this year and next.

The whole of MBS’ suites, which includes Microsoft CRM, is in the midst of “Project Green,” a code-base rewrite and unification effort expected to be complete sometime in 2006.

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