I installed Microsoft Small Business Accounting 2006 tonight. I've been using GnuCash on Linux for my financial management needs for about three years (before that I used Quicken for about two years). GnuCash is the main reason I keep a Linux box on hand. That and SSH and Bash rock. It implements true double entry bookkeeping with a no-frills interface. Quicken used categories; I think MS Money does, too. But accountants use double entry bookkeeping. Once I learned the methodology (via the GnuCash docs), I became a convert. GnuCash is pretty good and it's free.
SBA 2006 got my hopes up. It's accounting software, not home money management software. But I gave up on it within two minutes. I went to create an expense account: Expenses. Fine and dandy. Create a sub-account, Food. Okay. Then another sub-account, Eating out. Error message: SBA only supports one level of hierarchy. WHAAAAA??? In GnuCash, I have a moderately deep hierarchy of accounts. The likes of Expenses:Entertainment:Vacation:Airfare is not uncommon.
Garsh, should I try again? Should I adapt my thinking while I explore the potential benefits that SBA has to offer? What will I do with Expenses:Transport:Car:Gasoline, Expenses:Transport:Car:Insurance, Expenses:Transport:Public, Expenses:Transport:Taxicabs? How will I see how much I spend on my car? How will I see how much I spend on transportation as a whole? Hierarchies make sense when it comes to books. I want to try SBA, but I'm baffled by this, really. How was the one deep hierarchy decision made?
Another baffling issue (though not a dealbreaker) is that SBA uses MSDE for its backend. Cool, except for the fact that I already have SQL Server running on this machine (or, perhaps, within my enterprise?). Why not utilize my existing installation (investment)? Seems silly, since they're virtually out-of-the-box compatible. But very cool that it leverages a SQL server engine. That in and of itself is a good thing, but I really don't need or want two instances running side-by-side.
I guess I'll go back and explore its features and see how I can adapt within its limitation (what I see as a very huge limitation). But, wow, how stupid. Give me a real hierarchy, not a one level. I wonder what that implementation looks like under the scenes, whether the limit is artificial or if they designed it that way. We'll see.