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Intuit stresses usability in upcoming QuickBooks 2008 release

At an event in Toronto recently, Intuit Canada gave members of the accounting industry a peak under the hood of QuickBooks 2008, the next release of the company's flagship product.

At an event in Toronto recently, Intuit Canada gave members of the accounting industry a peak under the hood of QuickBooks 2008, the next release of the company’s flagship product.

Intuit is calling the 2008 edition its biggest release in years. Meg Rosgen, product manager, small business division for Intuit Canada, says many of the features are the same but company developers wanted to focus on usability, making those features that people use every day easier to use and faster to access.

“Users will now never be more than two clicks away from the critical information they need to access,” said Rosgen.

The user interface redesign is centered on a new homepage, as well as a customer centre and a vendor centre.

Through the customer centre, users will be able to manage all their customer information and tasks through one window, view their customer list and contact info, go right to customer billing information and view all customer transactions without having to run separate reports.

And through the vendor centre, users will be able to manage all vendors through the one screen, see all suppliers and money owed, view supplier histories and follow-up on late payments.

“Customers can now see the big picture,” said Rosgen. “We’ve put it all on one screen and it can be customized to how they work.”

While usability was a key development with QuickBooks 2008, Rosgen says a number of new features have been added as well. Among them is a partnership with Google that gives the users the option of installing a customized version of Google Desktop Search to index and search their QuickBooks files.

The interview set-up process on installation has been streamlined to only ask critical questions, and a number of enhancements have also been made around payroll and sales tax. The new sales tax model is something Intuit developers have been working on for a number of years, says Rosgen, so small businesses don’t need to be GST experts.

“This has been one of the most popular features for accountants on our road trips so far,” she said.

The QuickBooks line-up has been streamlined to three main product SKUs: EasyStart, Pro and Premier. There will also be a Premier Multicurrency edition, and a Payroll edition. Pricing information for the 2008 edition has not yet been released.

The Premier Accountants edition will now include licenses for all the different product SKUs with the ability to toggle back and forth between different versions and industry specializations, such as contractor, retail and non-profit, something Rosgen says will be a money-saver for accountants. A secure, always-on audit trail has also been added. It will continually be running in the background, tracking who makes changes and their impacts.

On the back-end, QuickBooks 2008 has moved to a new SQL-based Sybase iAnywhere to make the new edition compatible with Windows Vista.