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Updating Quickbooks Forces Online Membership? 462

garyebickford asks: "I've been using Quickbooks 2001 for a long time, sending out invoices via email. A couple of months ago it asked if I wanted to do an online update - these occurred occasionally and I agreed. There was no information regarding what the update would do, although IIRC there was some mention of 'new features' and 'improvements'. Since that time, it is now impossible to either fax or email an invoice without signing up for Quickbook's 'Online Business Member' program since it appears to use their own mail server. Membership is free for now, but the required click-agreement forces me to agree in advance to any future fees! I have no interest in letting Intuit know about my invoices and other financial information. As a result, this software is essentially useless and I must find a new accounting package. I've looked at various OSS packages but haven't found one that has developed far enough to use in this way. But there are many out there and I haven't kept up to date, so maybe someone else out there can suggest something. I'd prefer using it on Linux, of course. I'd also be interested if this loss of functionality would be sufficient to consider a class action suit to recover costs of conversion." The issue at hand is that commercial software has started to force consumers to fall into such schemes to maintain features that they already had. Today it is Quickbooks, but what about tomorrow?
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Updating Quickbooks Forces Online Membership?

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  • by kaxman ( 466911 ) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @05:34PM (#4839697) Journal
    ...and I'm not even a "business" customer. I like to hunt up old versions of programs, especially older shareware stuff that I might use a couple times a year, simply because it isn't as 'crippled' as today's version, or because nowadays the company making it requires that you give them a valid email and a reason for being interested in the software. And I'm not talking about finding old programs because they're easier to find cracks for; I actually do pay and have paid for many programs I find useful, and send money along fairly frequently for the free programs that deserve it. But for stuff that just strives to annoy, I'm having none of it.
  • Re:Common sense (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tteddo ( 543485 ) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @05:34PM (#4839701) Homepage
    Because when you update the program, it updates your data file to the new version, and you can't go back. I still use QB99 for this reason.
  • scary side effect (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phr2 ( 545169 ) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @05:36PM (#4839716)
    Having the invoices from millions of small businesses all go through the same server in the same format makes that server a VERY juicy source for the Office of Total Information Awareness. This kind of centralization has to be resisted.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 08, 2002 @05:38PM (#4839742)
    Use a free pdf print driver and print the quote from quickbooks to pdf, then send to client. I agree this quickbooks change sucks, but while you're looking for a replacement this should work fine, it has for me.
  • Try Compiere (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 08, 2002 @05:38PM (#4839749)
    Read lots of good stuff about this, but as yet haven't had time to try it out. Looks like it could do what you need it to:

  • Here's an idea... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tmark ( 230091 ) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @05:41PM (#4839764)
    it is now impossible to either fax or email an invoice ...since it appears to use their own mail server.

    Couldn't you just do something like print the invoices to a PDF then email that through the mailer of your choice ? Sure beats having to move your operation and data to a new system, and with the convenient plus that if you want, as some do, you can always have a copy of the invoice exactly as it was printed.
  • Lie to them (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Qrlx ( 258924 ) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @05:42PM (#4839770) Homepage Journal
    Why don't you call Intuit support and come up with some reason as to why their new software won't work for you. Like your small office has only one phone line and there's no ISP in your area, or your ISP went out of business or something.

    Or maybe that you live on a boat, and you can easily send mail via USPS but to use the Internet requires a trip to the local cybercafe, since you can't get internet access on your cell phone?
  • by wackybrit ( 321117 ) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @05:51PM (#4839834) Homepage Journal
    In the 90s, it was all about getting stuff out there for free so you could develop your brand and sell services off of the back of it.

    Now we're in the 'naughties' and the free stuff is drying up fast. Companies are realizing that to get sales and results, they need to try and lock you into their systems.

    Once upon a time, banner ads worked. Now everyone's using e-mail newsletters and Flash interstitals. The connection? These forms of advertising are more intrusive, more targeted on the individual.

    It's no wonder Quicken wants people to sign up. They know people like their package, and if a few people get lost in the process.. big deal. At least they'll have several hundred thousand small business owners locked into their contract.. which ensures a tidy income for Quicken a few years down the road.
  • by kaxman ( 466911 ) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @05:53PM (#4839849) Journal
    If they treat it that way I swear to all that is good I'll write my own. Software should not, with few exceptions perhaps, be a service. That's awful. I can see it now, pay-per-page Word usage. I still use Windows, entirely for games, but every day I get closer to dual-booting.

    I pay for the software, just like I pay for...I don't know...a stereo. I can open up the stereo and tinker with it, but it is already illegal for me to do that with software. I don't even own software that I buy nowadays.

    Boy, the free-software ideal seems more and more attractive with every day that passes.
  • by pongo000 ( 97357 ) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @06:37PM (#4840121)
    Think of the millions who use on-line bill payment services! Talk about juicy: A company could build quite a marketable portfolio about you based upon your bill-paying habits.

    Unfortunately, the masses are sucked in by the slick marketing, and never give a thought as to the middleman through which they're routing all their personal financial information.

    Can you imagine posting all of your income tax information on the web [securetax.com]? Apparently someone is willing to do this!
  • by kfg ( 145172 ) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @06:38PM (#4840125)
    And if you want to take the time and trouble you can hack spreadsheets to be just as automatic as Quicken in any modern Office Suite, like, say-Open Office. Frankly, since I understand the math involved, I'm not sure why anyone would bother with propriatary accounting systems.

    Roll your own. If you don't understand the math it will force you to learn it. In my opinion you *should* understand the math of handling your money, especially if it's a business.

    What's more, commnand line spreadsheets are readily available ( Visicalc itself is now available for download) so even people, businesses or nonprofits with little or no capital can run a spreadsheet on free antique hardware that Quicken would choke on.

    I highly recommend the book "Elements of Spreadsheet Style" by John Nevison. Out of print but available used through Amazon for under ten bucks.

    An older Edition of the classic book "Small Time Operator" known as the "Computer Edition" includes complete Visicalc code for all of your bookeeping needs. This is also available used through Amazon but will set you back twentysix bucks. Cheap price for avoiding the propriatary rat race and a hell of a book for anyone just getting started in their first business.

  • by ergo98 ( 9391 ) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @06:43PM (#4840162) Homepage Journal
    Frankly, since I understand the math involved, I'm not sure why anyone would bother with propriatary accounting systems.

    And I understand how to make hash tables and red-black trees, so I don't understand why anyone would bother with RDMBS when all they need is a C compiler and the gumption to "roll their own".

    Of course that is absolutely, positively ridiculous. A complex program like Quickbooks isn't simply a couple of spreadsheets rolled together to give you a total, but is complete business management system.
  • Re:Why upgrade? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BradleyUffner ( 103496 ) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @07:01PM (#4840287) Homepage
    I upgrade *ONLY* when I encounter either a major bug (meaning "uncircumventable") in what I already have, or what I have simply cannot do what I need it to.
    That's all well and good until you start dealing with programs like accounting packages. These programs using tax tables and rules that need to be up to date to even function. If you don't update them then the program dies. The problem then comes if the "update" removed functionality that already existed in the old version.
  • A lot more to come (Score:2, Insightful)

    by attobyte ( 20206 ) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @07:18PM (#4840384)
    I think software companies are going this way because it secures income. I think you will see this a lot more then we have been.

    I guess Opensource software has to win to fight this problem.

  • by fmaxwell ( 249001 ) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @07:25PM (#4840419) Homepage Journal
    What industry standards has AOL refused to follow? Just curious.

    POP3, SMTP, and even basic system logons, to name a few. If they followed industry standards, you would not need to use their proprietary CD to gain access to AOL, would you? You could simply configure the phone number, name, and password like you do with any normal ISP.

    The above list is not intended to complete, but is just some examples.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 08, 2002 @08:03PM (#4840612)
    Imagine if your attorney decides to stop representing you because you have violated privilege, or if you lose a court case because you violated privilege (sending transactions through a third party without the other party's consent).

  • Good bye Intuit (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mtm_king ( 99722 ) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @08:43PM (#4840833)
    Good bye Intuit,

    I loved you for years. I used to use you to see how to write a great UI for a GUI back when I was going from programing for DOS to Window$. I also thought the world of you cause back in the 80's you were very well done, lean and mean, and you were a cheap date, and NOT married to Micro$oft - even though the Feds had to stop the marriage.

    We have been together for years - you sent out many thousands of dollars of invoices for me and kept the old check book under control. Quicken, Quickbooks, and TurboTax have been on every PC I have had over these many years.

    But when I upgraded from some 90's version of yourself to Quicken 2003 Premier Home and Business things did not feel like they used to. I did not need Quickbooks anymore, and I felt like your were not a part of my life as much as you were after my money (now you wanted to know my total net worth.)


    Good bye Intuit
  • by Dunkirk ( 238653 ) <david@davidkr[ ]r.com ['ide' in gap]> on Sunday December 08, 2002 @10:08PM (#4841253) Homepage
    No... They're going to get most everyone moved over before people realize they've been had. Probably 3/4th's of my friends and family have computers, and there are only a handful that would even *know* the difference between owning a piece of software and "renting" it over the wire, let alone *care*. It's hopeless. Just like spam, if companies can continue to make money from practices that are - to people like Slashdot readers - basically bait-and-switch tactics, they're going to do it. All the more reason to move to OSS ASAP. Spend your money there and do without paid software. I tell you, I used to think Stallman was a certifiable nut, but the further the copyright holders take their position in today's electronic society, the more I think that his view is the only one that will stem the tide. Just say no to closed source.
  • by mkoenecke ( 249261 ) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @10:18PM (#4841301) Homepage
    Sure there's a substitute for Quickbooks. I'm still quite happily using Peachtree Accounting version 7, which still lets you update your own tax tables. Later versions wipe this out, which is the only reason I have refused to "ugrade."

    Someday all these chickens will come home to roost, as more and more people realize that "upgrading" means being required to buy into a glorified leasing program to keep functionality. More and more people will stick with what they have in lieu of surrendering ones autonomy to ones software provider.
  • by cnelzie ( 451984 ) on Monday December 09, 2002 @12:27AM (#4841811) Homepage

    That you are using out of date tax code for your city/state? That's not a very wise thing to do, unless there is some method of manually updating that information and you perfectly update the tax codes and tax forms in your Quickbooks 99 software.

    If you were looking to do business as an account for my company and I found out that you weren't using the updates to keep your tax code information up to date, you wouldn't be my accountant.
  • Two items. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Call Me Black Cloud ( 616282 ) on Monday December 09, 2002 @01:49AM (#4842157)
    1. Have you contacted Intuit about this? What was their response? Certainly you're not the only one who has noticed this change...what's the buzz in the QB community?

    2. Change. Use Peachtree (I've had it for years, works great) Like Linux? Use VMware.
  • by kfg ( 145172 ) on Monday December 09, 2002 @01:09PM (#4844581)
    "Ok, let me just run home and fire up the computer to print this check and I'll be right back."

    An outfit so small and so poor that it *needs* to run free Visicalc on an old 8088 doesn't print checks, it writes them just like most of the world does. It doesn't have very many to write either. Maybe a half dozen a month if it's unlucky.

    In my last retail business (3000 square foot store) I wrote three checks a month. That's all. At that "volume" hand writing them is quicker, easier and cheaper.

    Honestly, you realize hundreds of billions of dollars have been transacted perfectly well with no more "technology" then pen and ink don't you? I have a physical handicap that makes writing a difficulty and it's *still* easier to hand write small volumes of checks than print them.

    When an person/outfit gets big enough that the printing volume gets large enough that there is *benifit* to printing checks and forms then they use their office suite to print them, as I already suggested. Document processors are just that, not just overbloated $400 post-it note writers. If it comes to that I first started printing checks and forms on an 8088 running Microsoft Works 1.0.

    It seems easy to forget that just because new ways of doing things come up that the old ways still work just fine, and in certain situations, for certain people, are even *better* than the new ways.

    The right tool for the right job, and the size of the job helps determine the right tool.

    Honestly, relying on a program like Quickbooks to write a half dozen checks a month, one W2 * a year* and keep a daily transaction ledger is just plain doofey.

    To equate a spreadsheet with programing and IT as some above have done is even doofier. Spreadsheets are an office app, just like a WP. Spreadsheets have been traditionally hated by the IT deparment because they were the app that took computing *OUT* of the IP department and put it on a PC on every businessman's own desk.

    Accounting apps are there to save time and money. If they do neither they are less than worthless. They are NOT supposed to replace understanding of what's going on with your money. If you *can't* balance a checkbook because * you don't understand* the process perhaps business is not the best place for you.

    If you *do* understand the process whipping up a checkbook balancer in a spreadsheet is barely the work of minutes. A simple, single entry, bookkeeping system is hardly the work of more minutes, even if you've never used a spreadsheet before. Double entry will take a bit longer, but then I've refered the reader to a work that lays it all out for them. All they have to do is type it in.

    An office suite, ( which, again, isn't IT, it's a collection of apps for *office workers*) does everything Quickbooks does, and more (without phoning home). That's why MS was late to the "Financial management package" party. It never occured to them that anyone would want such a thing because * they had already provided one,* complete with instructions on how to use it as such.

    It's called MS Office.

    KOffice works just as well. Open Office works even better.

    What the hell do you think is really going on behind the scenes in Quickbooks, behind all the pretty graphics and doofey interface? It's just a *crippled* office suite.

    Cripple your own.


VMS must die!