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Intuit Disables Features in Quicken To Force Upgrades 617

Posted by michael
from the dog-bites-man dept.
Numerous people submitted a blurb from BoingBoing about Intuit disabling features in older versions of Quicken. Why the BoingBoing submitter and Mr. Doctorow are so upset about this I don't know; when you buy software that's dependent on a for-profit company to keep working, what do you expect?
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Intuit Disables Features in Quicken To Force Upgrades

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  • Why not GnuCash? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by michelcultivo (524114) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @08:05AM (#11519274) Homepage Journal
    Why not use GnuCAsh [gnucash.org]? It's so difficult to integrate with online banking?
    • by blowdart (31458) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @08:09AM (#11519287) Homepage

      Because it doesn't run on the same OS as Quicken? Because it supports a standard that banks are only starting to open up to?

      If software doesn't run on your OS and doesn't talk to your bank then the fact that it's open doesn't help much.

      (And no, it doesn't talks to my bank)

      • What you put:
        Because it doesn't run on the same OS as Quicken? Because it supports a standard that banks are only starting to open up to?

        The actual reason:
        Because it runs on an OS not dependent on any one source? Because it supports a standard?

        I figured those two were obvious. Anything that supports a standard must be evil and communistic! I'm pretty sure netcraft confirmed that...

    • by Rich0 (548339) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @08:36AM (#11519404) Homepage
      I've tried this and kmymoney. They are getting there, but they're not close enough for me.

      The last time I tried (probably six months ago), the budgeting features were not good, online downloading and uploading of transactions looked to be incompatible with my bank, and reporting was not as versitile. The transaction registers themselves worked just fine, though.

      It is also difficult to just experiement with the online features since it is your bank, and if it is working with quicken already do you want to mess with possibly getting the online service in some strange state? Financial software really only works well if all your transactions are in one place, so nobody would want to cut-over unless they had a fairly high degree of confidence that the FOSS alternatives are ready for prime-time.

      I ended up buying quicken 2K4 for about $5-10 mail-order. If you buy a one-year-old version it isn't nearly as much of a ripoff.
    • by scarolan (644274) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @09:19AM (#11519578) Homepage
      Cause GnuCash is hard to use, that's why! Yes, you and I understand that the double-entry accounting system is the proper way to do things but try explaining that to my wife who is in charge of paying the bills each month, with online billpay through Quicken no less. The problem Intuit has run into is that their software reached its full-featured peak around 1999 or 2000, after that there really wasn't anywhere for them to go. What do you do when your software has all the features the end-user needs, and works well enough for most people? With open source software, once a project has reached maturity, it can be left alone and become a useful tool for years and years afterwards. Take for example something like vi/vim - it does everything a text editor should do. But the developers who work on it do not have anxious shareholders knocking at the door wanting to see never-ending growth and profits. Hence Intuit has to force the customers to upgrade to squeeze out more profits.
      • Re:Why not GnuCash? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by iamacat (583406)
        What do you do when your software has all the features the end-user needs, and works well enough for most people?

        Anything but screw that up! They have a large mindshare. Now they can offer their own financial services and people will choose them just because they work really well with quicken. For example, they can offer Internet-based consulting where someone reviews your records and suggest how you can save money without sacrificing your lifestyle. This kind of things can bring way more revenue than so
  • by blowdart (31458) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @08:05AM (#11519275) Homepage
    when you buy software that's dependent on a for-profit company to keep working, what do you expect?

    Considering there are no (that I know of) open source or not for profit alternatives that allow you to pay your bills online like Quicken does what alternative do users have?

    • by bwalling (195998) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @08:28AM (#11519363) Homepage
      Considering there are no (that I know of) open source or not for profit alternatives that allow you to pay your bills online like Quicken does what alternative do users have?

      Well, there's Microsoft Money!
    • "what alternative do users have?"

      I would guess that many bank Web sites include some sort of bill-paying option, though I would also guess that there would be an additional service fee.

      (unless, of course, you have loads of cash -- fees are often waived for people who don't need fees to be waived)

      • I do and it is free. However, it is much nicer to just enter a transaction and have it uploaded to the bank, than to enter a transaction in your software, and then enter it again online.

        Part of the problem is that as for-profit enterprises Quicken and MS Money can spend a lot more on bank marketing. They can get their foot in the door with their proprietary standards much more quickly. Neither is going to want to make it easy for a FOSS package to play-ball...
      • Re:Alternatives (Score:4, Interesting)

        by tomhudson (43916) < ... <nosduh.arabrab>> on Sunday January 30, 2005 @09:03AM (#11519501) Journal
        You also have the alternative to call them (Intuit) on this new policy and demand a refund of the price you paid for your product. This is a new policy that they re trying to apply retroactively, which you did not agree to when you bought the product:
        As of April 19th, 2005, in accordance with the Quicken sunset policy, Online Services1 and Live Technical Support2 will no longer be available for Quicken
        2001 and 2002 users.
        If this wasn't a new policy, they wouldn't have to be doing it for 2 years worth of products (since 2001 would have been EOL'ed last year).

        This is consumer fraud at its worst. My guess is Intuit is in a cash squeeze and needs to raise some $$$ fast.

        We're going to see the same thing in a few years when Microsoft starts refusing to issue activation keys when you reinstall XP because it too will be EOL'ed.

        • Re:Alternatives (Score:3, Insightful)

          by matastas (547484)
          Whoa, whoa. Hold up there, Tex. This is not consumer fraud in the slightest. This is product management at its core.

          I do this stuff for a living. And I've never sold a product to a customer and given them an end-of-life (EOL) schedule at the same time. It doesn't work that way, mainly because you're never exactly sure when your EOL date needs to be. Sure, you have some guesses, but often they're wrong.

          Very good reasons for product EOL are declining demand and support/maintenance costs. Tech. support
    • by rah1420 (234198) <rah1420@gmail.com> on Sunday January 30, 2005 @08:45AM (#11519437)
      The problem is that the tail's wagging the dog. Why on Earth are people using their check register to pay their bills?

      I log onto my web site [knbt.com] with Firefox and use my bank's online bill pay feature to pay my bills. I can download these transactions into whatever money manager supports their download format. I don't bother, preferring to scrape the screen and put the display into a text editor, as I can then import it into my spreadsheet with a few clicks.

      Cost: About $6 a month. Beholden to: Only my bank, and I trust them to be the custodian of my money anyway, so I'd better trust them.

      Intuit has been sending me begging and pleading letters to upgrade my Quicken 4.0 for years, and all I do is laugh and throw them in the recycling bin.

      Do I want Intuit telling my bank what to do? Hell no! That's why I do this rather than initiate bill pays from the payee's web site; you gotta push, don't pull the transaction.

      Hint: If you use the bank's software to communicate with the bank, you'll never have a problem.
      • why??

        because I prefer not to give the place I have my car loan $6.00 every month for "online processing fee". My mortgage their $7.00 online processing fee, and the electric company their $4.95 processing fee.

        it is FAR cheaper for these companies to accept online payments. The time it takes staff to open a letter, find my account, and enter the information as well as traffic the check is far longer and much more expensive for them to process a debit electronically.

        Until all online payments are 100% fre
  • by Scud (1607) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @08:06AM (#11519278)
    I don't use Quicken, so I wouldn't know, but is there any reason why the transactions can't be done via FOSS?

  • by Ckwop (707653) * <Simon.Johnson@gmail.com> on Sunday January 30, 2005 @08:06AM (#11519279) Homepage
    .. to just producing a decent product and letting the market decide if it wants it or not? Why does every corporation have to be a blood thirsty, morally defunct, money grabing ass?

    This is why I choose free software because it's in the spirit of cooperation rather than subversion.

    Simon.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 30, 2005 @08:14AM (#11519303)
      I used to work for Intuit UK and they were bastards. Just before they pulled their call centre out of the UK and into Canada, they made all the support staff make sales calls.

      People were waiting 1-2 hours to get support and there were a hundred people in the queue. Meanwhile the support staff had to make cold calls, which they hated.

      Then they suddenley closed the call centre and left all those people without jobs.

      I've never bought Intuit products since.
      • by tdemark (512406) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @09:13AM (#11519547) Homepage
        I used to work for Intuit UK and they were bastards.

        Intuit in general are bastards.

        Any time you try to import a text transaction file (QFX), the program calls home to see if the organization you downloaded from paid its "Quicken Tax".

        When I called tech support because I was getting an error message when trying to import, Intuit told me that "my bank doesn't support Macs", even though I already had the QFX file.

        Me: "I don't understand. I have the file, but Quicken won't import it."

        Tech: "Your bank doesn't support Macs."

        Me: "Why does my bank need to 'support' Macs? I have the text file, but Quicken won't import it."

        Think how ridiculous it would be if Excel wouldn't import a CSV file until it called back to MS to verify that author paid an "MS Tax" (insert DRM/Palladium comment here)?

        Anyway, I got around the issue by opening the file and changing the "Institution ID" to a bank that has "paid the tax". By simply changing a few characters in the file, Quicken happily imported it.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 30, 2005 @11:47AM (#11520517)
          >>Any time you try to import a text transaction file (QFX),
          >>the program calls home to see if the organization you downloaded from paid its "Quicken Tax".

          I can't stress how true the previous poster's comment is. I lead a team of developers that just finished implementing QFX support for our company, a mid-sized financial institution. The contract terms that Intuit insisted on are truly outrageous. Sure enough, if the customer has a QFX file, but we aren't a "supported" organization, Quicken phones home and will refuse to import the file. This isn't a threat to Quicken users - it's a threat to the *banks*. The amount we had to pay to be "allowed" to continue providing the same support for our customers who had already been downloading QIF files for years was, uh, a LOT. They also strongly "encouraged" us to cripple or disable support for older versions.

          During testing, we were not allowed to go live with our upgraded service until we passed their test suites. Problem is, their testing process was neither well-defined nor timely. They promised us a certain scheudle, and then reported "problems" during testing that weren't originally described. When these threatened to delay our production schedule, our customer rep slyly hinted that if we wanted to pay an additional fee, that they could "bump up" our testing in front of other companies. It was a *large* additional fee. It took some high level calls from our management, involving literal screaming, before they would agree to stick to the original schedule.

          I am stunned, truly, that Intuit hasn't been held up for antitrust scrutiny at this point. They held financial companies with far more money than them over a barrel, in their latest round of "upgrades". Surely, I keep thinking, it won't be long until some of the big boys round up Intuit and take them out behind the woodshed for a good beating - legal, financial, literal, take your pick.
          • by activewire (515493) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @02:13PM (#11521543)
            Agree, mod parent's parent up. This is the REAL story that gets easily lost in slashdot noise.

            Intuit can play both ends: they squeeze the customer with forced upgrades, and the banks with "compatibility" policies.

            There is no technical reason why my Quicken 2000 stopped importing QFX files on 4/18/2004: the file format hasn't changed. In fact, I can STILL download QFX from my bank and rename the FID (financial instution id) and it works! Its also possible to edit "hosts" file to block the Intuit "phone home"
            127.0.0.1 ofx-prod-brand.intuit.com,
            127.0.0.1 ofx-prod-fiusage.intuit.com
            127.0.0.1 ofx-prod-cuusage.intuit.com

            What I dont understand is why banks agree to this?
            If every bank would just allow download of OFX from their website, customers could take Intuit's
            "branding" servers out of this loop, a place where Intuit never belonged in the first place.

            I finally said "screw you Intuit" and have been happily importing OFX files into GnuCash for 6 months.
    • by bersl2 (689221) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @08:23AM (#11519343) Journal
      "In [a free-market] economy there is one and only one social responsibility of business to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition, without deception and fraud." -- Milton Friedman

      The problem is that, of course, few of them do go without "deception and fraud."
      • That's the biggest pile of market-worshipping crap I've heard in a long time. By this token, plantation owners were completely justified in using slave labor because they were completely honest about the fact that they were using slaves.

        The decisions made by businesses affect more than just their own bottom line. There's a whole world full of people there, outside the boardroom, and no matter what Mr. Friedman says, you have certain social responsibilities to them as a human being.
      • Another problem is that corporations are treated as Natural Persons under U.S. law, so they have basically all the rights of people and few of the responsibilities.

        Another problem is that the free market has a very difficult time with the tragedy of the commons problem- short term corporate gain all too often conflicts with long term social and environmental well being.

        There are more problems. And don't get me started on the incompatibility of idea ownership and competition.

        • An interesting history note about the ruling which created corporate personhood. The judge who issued the ruling actually ruled *against* the concept of corpirate personhood, but big corporations bribed the clerk who recorded the ruling to record the case in their favor.

          There used to be a website about it, but I seem to have missplaced the link.

    • Doctorow, et al, are exercising their free market power by switching to something else. That's how competition works. Intuit did something that they don't like and they are going elsewhere. What subsequently happens to Intuit is irrelevant to them, even if they agree with you that it is "a blood thirsty, morally defunct, money grabing ass".

      Unless Doctorow signed a contract with Intuit obligating it to maintain that service forever, without change, there's little he can do about it other than go elsewhere.
  • Troll Article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jdhutchins (559010) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @08:09AM (#11519291)
    This article made a good point, but michael didn't have to add his flamebait last line. When you buy something, you usually expect it to keep working and not be disabled over time. Yes, maybe corporations are evil, but for the most part, when you buy something, it keeps working. I have a computer running Windows 95 that runs just as well as when we first bought it. That's coming from Microsoft, the Big Evil. We read the summaries to start discussions ourselves, not to have incendiary statements put in there just for the fun of it.

    On a side note, is anyone here a laywer who knows about retail law? There could very well be a law that they're breaking here, opening themselves up to a class-action lawsuit.
    • I would expect the articles submitted to the editors were more baited - probably preachy about F/OSS or going off on a tangent about WHOMG SI THIZ LEGAL PATRIOT ACT DMCEEA!"!21123oneeleven.
    • Re:Troll Article (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 30, 2005 @09:02AM (#11519494)
      Actually, this article doesn't even make a good point. Way to go michael. As usual your over-enthusiasm for yellow "journalism" has run amuck and the worst kind of lies are now being discussed as truth.

      As it stands, users of existing Quicken products prior to the Quicken 2005 edition are being "forced" to upgrade to Quicken 2005 because Quicken ended their long-time relationship with Checkfree Corp. sometime last year. Checkfree provided the backend online bill payment features in the Quicken products originally, but Intuit, unsatisfied with the cost of Checkfree's services decided to choose a different vendor to provide this type of feature in their upcoming 2005 version. Intuit decided to not continue the relationship with Checkfree for users who did not want to upgrade to the new product, so Intuit had to "force" upgrades for users who still wanted to use the online bill pay features of the Quicken products. Therefore, if you had purchased Quicken 2000 - Quicken 2004 (I think?) the upgrade to Quicken 2005 Basic (or Standard?) was free. All you had to do as a user was request an upgrade CD from Quicken. Sure, some people don't want to change their software package when the old one works just fine, which is why Intuit keeps sending current customers of their older software these notices that they need to upgrade. In other words, Intuit is saying: "If you want to keep using the Bill Pay features of our Quicken software, you MUST upgrade to our latest version so that our new backend payments processor can start sending your payments for you." Maybe that's a not-so-smart business move for Intuit to make, or maybe they aren't clearly communicating that the reason for the forced upgrade is for the online payments engine issue, but it's certainly not illegal or deceptive. They can't use Checkfree to process their payments anymore, period. So users need to upgrade to keep using that feature.

      Now I will disclose that I do not work for Quicken, but do work for a player in the "financial services" industry, so when it comes to this stuff, I know what I'm talking about. I'm more concerned about why /. continues to employ this POS, michael. He is the reason that people call people who love Linux "GNU hippies." He is such a freaking joke! Not only does he make sure to post unverified, inflammatory "articles" submitted by similarly-minded /.'ers as himself, but he also continuously feels the need to add those shitty little quips on to the end of the article which he clearly never reads, and NEVER verifies for accuracy. I call BIG FAT BULL SHIT on this "article!"
      • Re:Troll Article (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Gudlyf (544445) <gudlyf@nosPAm.realistek.com> on Sunday January 30, 2005 @01:17PM (#11521163) Homepage Journal
        "I'm more concerned about why /. continues to employ this POS, michael."

        Are you kidding? Lots of readers eat this kind of thing up. You read the article and disagreed with its message, so you read the coments to see if others have your point of view. Now you might post a reply to the article voicing your disagreement. Then you come back to see what people had to say about your comments, maybe posting another reply or two. The fact is, it incited interest and made people come back to "see what happens next," over and over again, which is what makes Slashdot make money afterall.

        Why do they continue to employ michael? Sadly he will probably get a bonus for this.

    • Re:Troll Article (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bwy (726112) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @09:04AM (#11519505)
      This article made a good point, but michael didn't have to add his flamebait last line. We read the summaries to start discussions ourselves, not to have incendiary statements put in there just for the fun of it.

      Thank you. Very well put and I hope the point is taken.
    • Re:Troll Article (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TFGeditor (737839)
      "...michael didn't have to add his flamebait last line. "

      Michael has become increasingly militant and unshy about exposing his bias. I cannot help but wonder why, and whether someone in authority will call him down in the name of presenting at least some semblance of credibility on /.
    • Re:Troll Article (Score:3, Insightful)

      by omb (759389)
      There are a number of points here:

      (1) I used to rely, and would like to continue to rely on /. to alert me to interesting news.

      (2) The quality of the 'news selection' is going down.

      (3) I am sick of egregious op-ed, trolls, astroturfers, shills and idiots who dont know when to keep their fingers still, off the keyboard.

      The bottom line these days is that it is getting harder and harder to get FACTS, not subjective opinions, and there are far too many un-funny FUNNY posts.

      All that said Intuit is beha

    • Re:Troll Article (Score:3, Insightful)

      by poot_rootbeer (188613)
      This article made a good point, but michael didn't have to add his flamebait last line.

      Oh, come on. It wouldn't be Slashdot if michael didn't always tack some flamebait onto the last line of a story submission. He does it CONSTANTLY.

      I think it's time for me to head over to my Preferences page and change them not to show any stories with michael in the byline. Long overdue, actually.
  • This really isn't meant to be anything, but, after the whole TurboTax fiasco last year, do you expect anything else from these clowns?

    Now, for the M$ folks out there, there are only two 'mainstream' options -- M$ Money, and Quicken. Neither of which are that appealing. There's GnuCash, however, if you're not running a free operating system, you're probably not going to get very far.

    Personally, I use GnuCash, and I'm quite happy with it. I haven't had any real issues with it, nor have I had any real com
  • official line? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Texodore (56174)
    Perhaps the editors could wait until there is an official piece of information from Intuit before posting editorial comments? Seriously, maybe there's a reason why. Then again, maybe not.

    <sarcasm>In either case, I believe we should be reactionary and attack Intuit, just like we do every year about this time. They did add DRM stuff to TurboTax one year. Bastards.</sarcasm >

    (I do remember them pulling the DRM or whatever stuff from TurboTax. Maybe they'll do the right thing here. But since
  • by l2718 (514756) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @08:14AM (#11519307)

    Quoth the editor: "Why the BoingBoing submitter and Mr. Doctorow are so upset about this I don't know; when you buy software that's dependent on a for-profit company to keep working, what do you expect?"

    You should expect the price of the software to reflect what is actually being offered. The contract between Intuit and the users regarding the operation of the software should (part of the "Software License Agreement", which I cannot find on-line) should say for how long Quicken will support the operation of the software. That factor was included in the price of the software.

    Before this can be resolved we need to look at the contract. Then there are two possibilities:

    1. The users failed to read the contract before accepting it -- their loss
    2. The company is reneging on an express contract
    3. The contact did not spell this out. Then there would be an argument as to what is the implied expectation -- what do you think?

    Can someone post the relevant terms from the agreement?

  • hmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nomadic (141991)
    hy the BoingBoing submitter and Mr. Doctorow are so upset about this I don't know; when you buy software that's dependent on a for-profit company to keep working, what do you expect?

    Actually, I don't expect this, it's definitely not a standard industry practice. Oh, sorry, forgot that rationality takes a back seat when it's time to insult proprietary software.
    • Exactly. What Inuit is doing is not exactly commonplace. Microsoft dropped support for Win98 or whatever many years later, but what Inuit is doing is basically disabling certain features of an application that's 3 years old. Perhaps a lame analogy, but that would be like Microsoft disabling the ability to use Internet for Win98 users in 2001.
      This is a bad decision from Inuit, but has nothing to do with proprietary software vendors as a whole.
  • by acostin (229653) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @08:16AM (#11519314) Homepage
    I am also managing a software company (we produce tools for web developers), and there is indeed a need to have a long term-strategy that could lead to a constant cash-flow. We have several tactics in place to help us in this respect:
    • Release new major versions of our products each 20 months (as we generate code, the previous version is probably "obsolete" by the time we release the new version - so we don't expect problems in this respect). We also add features each time.
    • Horizontal expansion - enter markets that are related to our core markett - in our case, online training, commercial support, book writing.

    Intuit is probable facing the same problems (at a bigger scale - they're public company and they have responsibilities for their stockholders). It seems that they have offered the online service for free, planning to get the cashflow from software sales only. Now, as the sales have decreased, they have to find a way to make people upgrade to their latest version, and I personally can't blame them.

    You also have to take into account that they are probably still battling Microsoft... I am from Romania, so I'm not very familiar with the limited MS Money success. Is Money still an alternative?

    Alexandru
  • by cygnusx (193092) * on Sunday January 30, 2005 @08:16AM (#11519315) Homepage
    From http://www.microsoft.com/uk/homepc/money/ProductDe tails.aspx?pid=003 [microsoft.com]:

    Internet-based services available for two (2) years after activation of Microsoft Money or 1 September 2007, whichever is earlier. See the Microsoft Money Internet-based services policy http://money.msn.com/Money/2005/GBR/IBSP.asp [msn.com] for details.

    If you don't upgrade, you'll be able to use the software as before, but not the Internet-based services (AFAIK).
    • Replying to my own post: it seems it isn't quite as bad as it sounds: MS' definition [msn.com] of "Internet-based services" are hooks to MSN Money services, not internet banking -- which you do direct with your bank as long as they support it.

      Internet-Based Services are features of this version of Microsoft Money that give you the ability to perform certain Internet-based financial tasks through the Microsoft Money client software. Your ability to perform certain Internet-based Services (such as Internet-based bankin

  • I work at a bank (Score:5, Informative)

    by aardwolf64 (160070) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @08:16AM (#11519316) Homepage
    I work at a financial institution and am in charge of support for PFMs (Personal Finance Managers) including Microsoft Money and Quicken. The reason that Quicken is sunsetting support for online banking in 2001 and 2002 is that your online transactions actually come through Intuit's server, which accesses your bank server on your behalf. You can still use the older versions of Quicken, you just can't download transactions.

    Microsoft Money on the other hand still works since it connects directly to the bank's OFX server. Although my bank only supports 2001 and newer, we have users that are actually connecting with Money 1999 with no problems.
    • let me be the first to predict that (1) there will be bugs in the ofx implementation and/or protocol, (2) these bugs will be found by crackers, (3) they will be exploited, and (4) these facts will remain largely unknown to the public for some time afterward. this is not so much the fault of ofx as it is the basic idea of allowing automated initiation of bank transactions from the typical user's computer -- for all i know, the same thing has already happened to the closed precursors to ofx. if you're going
    • by TykeClone (668449) * <TykeClone@gmail.com> on Sunday January 30, 2005 @09:10AM (#11519528) Homepage Journal
      It's worse than that.

      With our site, older versions of Quicken can still download transactions with no issues - Quicken 2005 and above can not (and money has no issues either). In order to set our site up to allow for Quicken to import transactions, it would cost the bank several thousand dollars (+ several thousand dollars per year!) to gain no functionality. To be honest, it would be just as cost effective to give away copies of MS Money instead of paying Intuit's blackmail.

      Intuit is also trying to get into the banking game and become the face of your bank. They're already advertising "Quicken Loans" and I imagine attempting to steer deposits with Quicken.

      It comes down to an economic decision by the bank. We give away online banking and bill pay to all who want it (doesn't matter about their accounts or their balances) for free.

      If there is any kind of a decent open source financial program available on Windows, please let me know about it so that I can recommend it to our customers!

    • Firewall it! (Score:3, Interesting)

      Yes, I've known that for a while, every time you perform an online transaction, even a statment download initiated from your banks website, quicken always connects to intuit, but you can block quicken from connecting to intuit.com if you use a personal firewall, and still dnload your transactions. When you attempt to download your transactions to Quicken, the fw pops up a notice that quicken wants to connect to some intuit.com website, eventhough I am connecting to my bank instead, and do I want to continu
  • by srleffler (721400) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @08:17AM (#11519324)
    Well, I'm really glad I read about this on Amazon last week. I was about to buy Quicken, since it's almost free if you're buying Turbo Tax. I knew Intuit was Evil, but this was just too evil for me: they lost the sale and I'm sticking with Microsoft Money. It's a sad day when Microsoft is the lesser of two evils...
  • by sd790 (643354) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @08:20AM (#11519330)

    I received a similar letter a few weeks back and immediately called my bank to find out if this was really going to affect my ability to use their online banking services. They told me that this will NOT cause any problems and I DON'T have to upgrade to continue using their online banking system. The only thing that I'll lose is my ability to Intuit's help desk, which I'll never do anyways.

    Call your bank and check. You probably don't have to bother with it.

    • That is Incorrect (Score:5, Informative)

      by aardwolf64 (160070) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @08:28AM (#11519364) Homepage
      From Quicken's Sunset policy FAQ:

      Q: What will happen if I don't upgrade?

      A: As of April 19, 2005, in accordance with the Quicken sunset policy, Online Services1 and Live Technical Support2 will no longer be available for Quicken 2001 and 2002 users. This means that you will no longer be able to download financial data into older Quicken software. You will still be able to manually enter your data.

      Attempts to use Online Services after April 19, 2005 will result in a variety of program error messages related to the feature or service you try to access.

      Quicken's Sunset Policy [intuit.com]

      FAQ [intuit.com]
  • Do you have to pay a subscription fee for Quicken's online payment system? If not then I guess as long as the upgrade price is reasonable it seems fair to charge a small amount as a kind of subscription to their service, as you can't expect companies to provide a service for free indefinitely (and as a bonus you keep your version of Quicken up-to-date)
  • A question from someone who doesnt use quicken: Can you please elaborate about the service that quicken 2002 used to provide? Is the service provided by Intuit's servers so that it costs Intuit? The article says "these transactions pass through my bank, not Intuit" so does it mean it doesn't have anything to do with Intuit and its servers? Then how can intuit "disable" this? Thank you.
  • by TheRealFixer (552803) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @08:28AM (#11519365)
    As I recall, a couple years ago Intuit came under fire for their production activation scheme and their draconian copy protection in TurboTax, which secretly installed code in the boot sector of the hard drive to prevent the CD from being copied, but also apparently caused some CD writers drives to stop working properly and was near impossible to get rid of. It turned into a major PR nightmare for them, as word spread quickly across the internet of what TurboTax was doing to people's PCs. A good number of their customers left for TaxCut. Several months later, Intuit was forced to admit publically what a dumb decision it was.

    Well, it appears that Intuit did not learn their lesson, as this is likely to turn into another PR nightmare for them. How do companies become so dumb?
  • What does this online billing service do? And what does Intuit has to do with it? I'm using GnuCash, and I can do online bank transfers quite fine. I don't see anyone else except me and my bank is involved in transfering money? I already noticed that things like those account-to-account transfers are not common in the US, where paper checks are still widely used - they are almost dead here in germany, and we got HBCI for syncing GnuCash with our bank account. No need for a "financial software corp" to engag
  • by nysus (162232) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @08:28AM (#11519369)
    I bought this electronic drum set for my kid at Toys 'R Us. A year, later, this guy in a yellow and orange vest comes to my door with a hammer. I let him in and he proceeds to smash the drums into tiny fragments, making my kid cry. He says, "Sorry, the model of your drum set is out of date. You have to buy the new model." What else could I do? I had to pay another $50 or my kid would go nuts.
    • That's not a particularly good analogy now is it?

      They are not remotely disabling your copy of Quicken, they had been providing a service for free as the online bill payment system had to go through their server. They've realised they can't keep doing that forever, but for some reason rather then introducing a small subscription fee they're getting people to upgrade instead.
  • by reallocate (142797) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @08:42AM (#11519428)
    Might be bait and switch, might not be.

    I don't use Quicken, but if the communication involved is, literally, only between the user and a financial institution, then I'm not sure how that capability could be disabled by Intuit.

    If the Quicken relays data to a financial institution via Intuit (why?), then Intuit is within its rights to alter or eliminate that capability. (Doctorow should check the terms of his Terms of Use agreement. I'd be surprised that Intuit agreed to maintain that facility, without change, in perpetuity.)

    The same thing could happen in an open source version of Quicken if data was sent to banks via a single central facility, if a code upgrade or rewrite was frustrated by the need to maintain the old code at that real point.

  • Try MoneyDance (Score:5, Informative)

    by czei (121516) <michael.czeiszperger@org> on Sunday January 30, 2005 @08:45AM (#11519438) Homepage
    I got fed up with Intuit's bug-ridden software and abysmal tech. support in 2003 and switched to MoneyDance [moneydance.com]. The GUI isn't as slick, but I ended up spending way less time on finances because the program's well-written and well supported. Instead of talking to tech. support people on the other side of the world who are just reading from a support database you can get email back from one of the developer's in a couple of hours and your questions are answered quickly, accurately, and for free.

    I looked at some open source programs at the time, but the big draw for me to MoneyDance initially was it will automatically download transactions from my bank, and there's a great matching algorithm to stick the transactions in the right budget category.
  • when you buy software that's dependent on a for-profit company to keep working, what do you expect?

    I expect it to keep working forever - i.e. until some combination of hardware/OS change renders this impossible. I don't expect it to be supported for ever.

    Neither do I expect any "Free Software" equivalents to necessarily provide all that I need, when I need it with decent paid for support.

    I don't expect much.
  • by smcdow (114828)
    Forced upgrade, yes. But Intiut sent me a free copy of Quicken 2005 via US mail to do the upgrade.

    Not that I've done the upgrade yet, but....

    I just assumed that everyone who had already purchased Quicken was getting a free copy of Quicken 2005. Is this not the case?
  • As a swede i dont really understand why you would need an application to do your banking. We just connect to the web and use a small code generator to log into our bank. Well inside its just a matter of paying the bills and be done with it. All transactions is saved and can be viewed online. The need for an application eludes me so please enligth us non Americans.

    What does quicken/MS Money do and why are they needed? Am i wrong in assuming the American banking system is a fairly bit behind those in use in
  • Die Intuit Die! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by spiritraveller (641174) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @09:28AM (#11519632)
    Retirement of Online Services for older versions of Quicken

    In an ongoing effort to provide reliable high-quality products and services, Intuit periodically retires (also known as "sunsets") older versions of Quicken, thereby discontinuing Online Services & Live Technical Support for these versions.

    Under this policy, the most current version of Quicken (currently Quicken 2005), plus the prior two versions, will be supported, subject to certain exceptions. Sunsetting older versions of Quicken allows us to focus resources on enhancing our products and providing support for more current versions, which are used by the vast majority of Quicken customers. The result: a better customer experience for millions of Quicken users.

    They're making it sound like some sort of political decision... "for the greater good!"

    What a bunch of assholes. You're a business. You sold a product. Now you're trying to take it back by disabling features that people have already paid for. You just can't polish that kind of turd.

    I have Quicken 2005 (bought before I knew about this crap). And it no longer supports importing QIFs from my credit union. I asked my credit union about it, and they said Intuit wants somewhere around $50,000 to enable the new format.

    Intuit needs to die.

  • by Tsu Dho Nimh (663417) <abacaxi@NoSpaM.hotmail.com> on Sunday January 30, 2005 @10:24AM (#11519944)
    Inevitably, the new software will require new versions of something it relies on, like MSIE or ActiveX ... and those will refuse to run unless the OS is upgraded ... and the OS will require newer hardware.

    So a $19 upgrade to Quicken can end up forcing the purchase of a $1000 new computer ... and some of your other software will have problems running in it so it needs to be upgraded too.

  • by Noksagt (69097) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @11:36AM (#11520424) Homepage
    People on most platforms might want to try jGnash [sourceforge.net]. This is Free/Open Source Software that works on any platform with java. I haven't used it, but it is somewhat patterned off of GnuCash, which I am a happy user of & which others have asked about in this forum and on others. (Unfortunately, for all practical purposes, GnuCash is Linux/BSD-only, but will run under OS X and possibly even windows if you work at it.) The advantages of using something like jGnash are:
    1. It costs nothing (though you can usually get Money/Quicken Free After Rebate)[
    2. It is cross-platform
    3. It will import QIFs
    4. It uses double-entry accounting (though this might take some time getting used to)
    5. No features expire
    6. All upgrades will also be free & occur more frequently than once a year if needed.
    7. Upgrades haven't broken import/export from old files from older versions
    Diadvantages
    1. Somewhat new (1.0 release was in 2002)
    2. Missing some features which can be found in commercial software (some of which can be added, some of which won't be)

  • by mhollis (727905) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @01:20PM (#11521187) Journal

    I have been banking at a large institution for many years now and, since they don't directly support Macintosh computers, I have downloaded the equivilent of a backup file to do online banking. The bank also allows me to do electronic bill-pay from their interface, so to have Quicken do it (as opposed to just record it) is not necessary.

    I have no need to upgrade to Intuit's current application because of that, unless or until they change the format of their backup file (the extension is .QIF).

    So for banks that allow you to download .QIF files instead of using the Quicken electronic transfer interface, the old versions may continue to be quite useful.

  • Expectations (Score:3, Informative)

    by Eric Smith (4379) * <eric&brouhaha,com> on Sunday January 30, 2005 @03:31PM (#11522289) Homepage Journal
    Why the BoingBoing submitter and Mr. Doctorow are so upset about this I don't know; when you buy software that's dependent on a for-profit company to keep working, what do you expect?
    Just like when a few years after buying a Ford truck, they disable the stereo and the rear window defogger, to encourage you to buy a new Ford truck?

    Once I've purchased something, whether it's a truck or a piece of software, I expect it to keep working. If the stereo or the rear window defogger fail, I expect to be able to get them repaired (possibly at my expense). If the stereo and rear window defogger fail because Ford deliberately did something to turn them off, I expect to sue Ford's ass off.

    If a feature of the software stops working due to a deliberate action of the vendor, I expect to call them up and have them turn it back on. Failing that, I expect to sue them, or join a class action suit.

    If when I bought the software, the packaging and license clearly stated that the XYZ feature would only work for three years, that would be another matter.

  • by Deagol (323173) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @06:09PM (#11523509) Homepage
    Anyone know of a good Paytrust [paytrust.com] alternative?

    I was horrified to get a notice from Paytrust recently about them joining with Intuit. I assume they were bought by Intuit.

    Intuit has gotten so anti-consumer over the years. I almost wish Microsoft had won the lawsuit between the two companies, just out of spite.

    When the Quicken yearly upgrade routine began in the late 90's, I migrated to GNUCash, then evenually went to using a basic OpenOffice spreadsheet for my account handling. I had been a loyal, paying user since the DOS days.

    I was a major Turbo Tax paying customer for many years, too. Then they pulled that stupid DRM scheme a few years back. I tried an alternative suggested by a Slashdot poster (Tax Act, I think?), but that was only for a year, as I felt it was an inferior product. The next year, I went to H&R Block, which I'll proabably continue to do until I can file a EZ form again (maybe in a few years).

    I absolutely love Paytrust -- I manage all of my bills and loans with it. However, I'm drafting a letter to physically mail to them once I've converted all of my accounts to an alternative or back to the check and post office routine again. I must tell them that Intuit has proven itself to be anti consumer, so I can't in god faith remain with an affiliated company.

    I doubt they'll take notice, though. Such a shame.

  • by leereyno (32197) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @08:12PM (#11524505) Homepage Journal
    The moral of this story is, avoid software products that operate off of the "sofware as a service" model.

    Imagine if you bought a car that relied on special gas that the manufacturer would stop producing in 3 years. Would you buy such a car?

    Lee

Mediocrity finds safety in standardization. -- Frederick Crane

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