MYOB backs down from UK deactivation

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MYOB backs down from UK deactivation

Promises life for users after 2011.

MYOB's Australian headquarters has backed down from a decision to deactivate UK copies of its software after requests from users.

The accounting software sold its UK customer base to local outfit Mamut in 2008. As part of the deal, it planned to "sunset" the UK version of the software at the end of 2011 by no longer issuing "confirmation codes" required for users to continue manipulating MYOB data files.

Without the codes MYOB goes into read-only mode. 

MYOB backed down from that plan for the foreseeable future after receiving "a number of requests" from continuing users for an extension, it said on its site Wednesday.

"It looks like we've won," said MYOB UK User Group administrator, Mark Hill, after Mamut chief executive Bryan Richter called him to deliver the news.   

The victory however was tainted by the fact Hill and a small band in the user group had been preparing for D-Day.

In October the group hired a programmer to develop a system that would generate codes that kept the software alive and was to ready to begin issuing them on Thursday.

"It's annoying that we've spent years of work trying to get everybody prepared for what was going to be this catastrophic change and now they're not going to go ahead with it, so the wasted effort is unbelievable," he told iTnews.

"But it's nice to know that somebody is listening to us. That is a relief actually.

The group remains ready to provide the codes if MYOB Australia renegs on its plan, he said.

Hill wasn't certain how many MYOB UK customers - once numbering approximately 20,000 - remain today but he guessed they would continue to be in the "thousands".

The user group itself had grown from 43 members in October to 190 today.  

MYOB users in the UK that still want to use the software were importing it from US franchise Acclivity quietly, to get around a ban preventing Acclivity from selling to the UK or Ireland.

Acclivity does not use the same digital rights management techniques that allow the manufactuer to render software read-only. 

Apart from payroll, the Canadian product is seen as particularly well-suited to the UK system. 

"It's strange to bring bootleg copies of MYOB into the UK to get around this licensing ban," Hill said.

Hill rejected questions from iTnews as to why the user group did not switch to another product still supported in the country, like the UK's own Sage. 

"Sage is horrible," he said. "Have you ever tried to use it? If you had used it, you would know that's a silly question." 

Sage is currently facing a legal suit from MYOB's former owner, Archer, for cancelling its $1.3 billion bid for the company this August.

Hill was glad Sage's bid for MYOB failed because it "would have ruined it, I suspect".

Attempts by MYOB to re-enter the UK market would also be disastrous, according to Hill, who called the company's initial behaviour "absolutely dreadful... very unprofessional".

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