updated 07:50 pm EST, Mon November 10, 2008
FIrstLook QuickBooks 2009
The growth of Mac market share is having some pleasant side effects -- especially for software. Instead of just releasing ported Windows versions, the economics of scale has made it practical for some developers to rewrite their titles to take advantage of Mac OS X features and ease of use. Intuit has made that investment in QuickBooks 2009, and the result is a much more "Mac-like" application. Simplicity is the key, the company says, and a host of new features have been added to reduce the learning curve for the venerable small business accounting application.
Intuit calls this "the most significant upgrade" in the product's history. A prime example is the new Home Page feature that provides quick access to common tasks -- a better organized alternative to the long row of icons that had been the hallmark of the previous interface. Home Page resembles a flow chart providing a visual representation of each step in the business process. A single click allow users to check inventory, take orders or pay bills. (For those who prefer the old version, the old icon bar remains.)
QuickBooks 2009 Home Page
For users who want to keep an eye on the 'Big Picture,' the Company Snapshot feature gathers data from across the various areas of a business and creates a one-page update including income and expenses, account, customer and vendor balances and various reminders.
Another major change involves the way business data are organized. Earlier versions required users to search for things like contact information in one place, and move to another to find invoices. Quickbooks 2009 automatically gathers related information into one-page "centers" for customer, vendor, transaction and report information. The Report Center generates profit and loss statements, balance sheets and other reports which can be accessed with Cover Flow, much like an album in iTunes.
QuickBooks 2009 Report Center
Intuit has done some work "under the hood" as well. The company says QuickBooks 2009 for Mac is built from the ground up for the Mac platform -- and the new features were written in Cocoa. One feature that did not make this release, however, is support for global search using Spotlight. Search functions are instead available within each "center."
A new batch e-mail function allows users to collect mail from the day and schedule a time to send them all at once. Emails can be edited before sending using Mail or Entourage.
Support for iCal and MobileMe has also been added. To-Do lists, reminders, and invoice information can be displayed and automatically updated in iCal. Intuit has added encrypted MobileMe backup support for QuickBooks data via a menu option.
New users will likely appreciate the detailed video tutorials that ship with QuickBooks 2009. Presented in a style similar to that of Apple's tutorials, the videos cover a wide range of topics from making a deposit to more advanced uses like processing payroll.
QuickBooks 2009 Tutorial
The problem with updating any application as well-known as QuickBooks is the risk that long-time users might be put off by new features and interface changes. Intuit seems to have come up with quite a suitable compromise with this version. Users who like the old interface aren't likely to find the changes too jarring, while new users may be more likely to appreciate the "Mac-like" feel. And, instead of just a Windows port, QuickBooks is now truly a Mac application.