At the end of this month, QuickBooks developer Intuit will end support for the 2006 versions of the accounting program.
The move will mean that product and technical support will cease, but more importantly so will services such as its payroll mechanism. "If you think you might want to use these services or support, please call 0808 168 9539 to upgrade to QuickBooks 2010," the company advised in an e-mail.
To encourage users to make the transition, Intuit is offering £100 off the normal upgrade price. Upgrading to the 2010 version will give customers access to the new facilities available in its VAT Centre, multicurrency capabilities and the ability to support up to 30 concurrent users.
As users of other Windows and desktop business applications will know, PC software developers have to manage the lifecycles of their products to keep up with operating system and programming changes. As Intuit's email explained it, focusing on QuickBooks 2010 and QuickBooks 2008 will help it to deliver the best possible products and services. "By managing the costs associated with supporting older releases, we can give you the best service at an affordable price," the company said.
In AccountingWEB's QuickBooks discussion group, Martin Telfer explained why the end of QuickBooks 2006 came as an unwelcome shock. "I have used Quickbooks I have never once needed support from them, so [the announcement] didn't worry me. But I had failed to appreciate that what they meant was that they would be locking the payroll features in QB 2006. How can a payroll services provider think it is acceptable to sell a payroll product (complete with all their talk about being able to file online) and then withdraw it half way through a year?"
The nature and timing of the switch is an own goal from Intuit, which has a history of leaving UK users in the lurch. Forcing accountants to spend several hundred pounds to keep their payroll function working will provoke many of them to consider their options. And because QuickBooks 2010 is not backwards compatible, accountants will have to decide whether to make their clients follow them, or handle their file back-ups through data exports between the versions.
In spite of a 50% discount offer from Intuit on the £1,000 it would cost to upgrade his QuickBooks 2006 versions, Telfer "reluctantly" decided to move to a separate payroll package and enter the details into QuickBooks as a journal each month.
"The main benefit of using Quickbooks for payroll was to avoid the need for reinputting data - with that gone I may as well move to someone where payroll is a specialisation rather than a sideline," added AccountingWEB.co.uk member jdstone. "I am not pleased with QuickBooks for their attitude to this one, and I used to be their biggest fan.
AccountingWEB.co.uk put some of the points raised to Intuit UK. The company responded: "We are fully aware that there is never an ideal time to make a payroll update and we started notifying our customers earlier this year to allow them several months to make the necessary changes. This decision has not been taken lightly and supporting our customers through the transition remains a key priority for Intuit in the UK.
"We have worked closely with our Professional Advisors and small business communities to develop the QuickBooks product set and ensure the software benefits all its intended users. Like all software companies we need to focus our resources on improving and updating our products to ensure they best reflect the current needs and requirements of our users, for example improved VAT handling features. To further achieve this goal we are focusing our support on QuickBooks 2010 and QuickBooks 2008. By managing the costs associated with supporting older releases, we can give our customers the best service at an affordable price.
"Intuit is strongly committed to its customers and greatly values the loyalty of its users across the UK. Intuit is not withdrawing the QuickBooks product and the payroll feature continues to exist in the 2008 and 2010 versions."
This article originally appeared on our sister Web site, AccountingWEB.co.uk.