With the release of Sage 50 2017.1, some interesting new features have been added to the software. Most of these features, however, are exclusive to the so-called “c” version of Sage 50, which is available only on a subscription basis. This may be a harbinger of things to come from Sage.
Common to all releases of 2017.1 is the ability to use web-based email services (e.g., Gmail, Yahoo, Comcast, etc.) to send documents and reports. While emailing of documents and reports has long been a feature of Sage 50, it required installation of either Outlook or another supported email client on the machine sending the email. This has posed problems for some users that choose not to use a local email client but manage all email directly from the web. All that is required to configure this new feature is the SMTP address for the service being used for email, along with the specific port number the provider uses for outgoing email. Another small step toward workstation independence.
The other new features in 2017.1 – available exclusively to Sage 50c subscribers – are:
- A no-charge link to Sage One, Sage’s online-only small business accounting application, to allow Sage 50 users to invoice customers online and then download the invoices from Sage One to Sage 50. This invoicing method also offers invoice recipients the opportunity to pay the invoice directly by clicking on a “pay now” button embedded in the online invoice.
- Sage Drive, initially released with very limited capabilities in the 2017 edition of Sage 50, has been expanded. Sage Drive now allows up to the maximum number of licensed users to log in to the synchronized online database, in read-only mode. Previously the online database was limited to a single login at a time. This can prove handy for mobile users who need to periodically check balances, order and shipment details, etc., while away from the office.
- Sage 50c users with an active subscription for Microsoft Office 365 Business Premium can now configure Sage 50 to make automated, unattended backups of one or more company databases directly to Microsoft OneDrive. With virtually unlimited storage space available with a OneDrive subscription, this can prove to be a handy way to store off-site backups without filling up an internal or external hard drive.
We are not yet ready to fully endorse Sage50c as a suitable replacement for the “on premises” perpetual licensing model that has long been the distribution method for the Sage 50 product line. Our principal hesitation with this new model is the difficulty of retrieving data from a Sage 50c system when a subscription is terminated; Sage “locks” the user’s company data in read-only mode as soon as a subscription expires. This strikes us as egregious and unnecessary, given the continued availability of “on-premise” licensing for virtually the same product.
We recognize that “subscription only” software is the future direction of the software industry, and that – eventually – this will be the only method for acquiring accounting software. For now, however, we think that only companies that have adopted a complete “virtual business” model, with no centralized IT capability, would truly benefit from switching to the Sage 50c product.
That opinion could change with subsequent Sage 50 releases, however. We will monitor this development closely and keep our clients informed as new information becomes available.