Quicken 2000 For The Mac
by Steve Becker

After a long wait and the threat of Quicken for the Mac being discontinued altogether, the release of Quicken 2000 for the Mac is on the horizon. (Quicken 2000 won't be available at most retailers until September, though Quicken 2000 has begun to ship.) Having had the opportunity to beta test Quicken 2000, here are some details about what is new in the program as well as some personal observations about Quicken 2000.

For more detailed information on the basic features included with Quicken and on how to use Quicken, I suggest you look at my detailed reviews of earlier versions of Quicken at the TidBITS web site:

I will be writing a more detailed review of Quicken 2000 for TidBITS after the official release of Quicken in September.

A New Interface

If you have used Quicken 97 or Quicken 98, you are familiar with Quicken's highly customizable and excellent interface. While Quicken 2000 no longer uses WestCode's outstanding OneClick Shortcut Technology to create its superior interface, using the new, tabbed interface of Quicken 2000 proves to be an easy adjustment -- Quicken still earns an "A" for overall interface design.

Quicken 2000 continues to offer a very useful and highly customizable tool bar. Unfortunately, too large an area of the new tool bar is occupied by Quicken's "Tips Area." If only Intuit provided for a way to turn these tips off or access them with a standard tool bar button....

The Web Grows

Those of you who have used the past several versions of Quicken have probably noticed how Quicken has steadily increased its use of web-based resources. Well, Quicken 2000 definitely continues this trend!

Intuit has clearly put significant development effort into better integrating Quicken with Intuit's ever-growing web presence. Quicken 2000 provides a detailed menu for directly accessing the various consumer services (loans, refinancing, retirement planning, and investment management, to name but a few) available on the Intuit web site.

I should also mention that most of these services are available to anyone with a web browser, though it's a convenience to be able to get to the sites from within Quicken (more precisely, Quicken launches your default web browser).

I particularly like Quicken's easy access to Intuit's Quicken Quote service; with Quicken 2000 this is a free service (previously, Intuit charged a monthly fee to download security quotes). Additionally, Quicken provides convenient filters to determinie how far back to go for historical price quotes and to select which securities (including mutual funds) to download information for.

Wisely, Intuit chose to download this information into a separate file Quicken 2000 accesses when displaying the information. This avoids bloating your Quicken data file and allows you to easily trash the file and replace it without affecting your own Quicken data.

Intuit seems to be constantly adding resources and services to this site, and it now contains a wealth of useful investment tools and information.

Online Transactions

There was not an opportunity to test the expanded online transaction component of Quicken 2000, but Intuit says more financial institutions may be accessed with Quicken 2000 because the program now works with OFX servers.

Quicken 2000 also supports WebConnect technology which Intuit says enables customers to access the web sites of many smaller financial institutions and then download their transactions into Quicken.

Less Taxing Taxes

Intuit says "Quicken Deluxe 2000 customers can prepare and file their taxes using internal links to WebTurboTax." They also say owners of Quicken 2000 are entitled to file one Federal return for free. Certainly, the price is right!

Pocket Accounting

If you are a Palm user, Quicken 2000 supports the synching of data with LandWare's Pocket Quicken.

Quicken Insights

One of the most interesting new features in Quicken 2000 is Quicken Insights. This window (it's accessed through the Activities Menu) integrates graphs, tips, and reports into a customizable display.

Quicken has grown from a program that essentially was a (well done) computerized version of a checkbook register into a comprehensive, personal finance program. Quicken Insights allows you to pull together various elements from Quicken that you find especially important/useful and incorporate them into a single display.

While I've had only a little time to work with this new feature, it appears to be potentially quite useful, especially to first-time Quicken users.

In Summary

Quicken 2000 builds upon what is already a fine program and includes many detail refinements and a few significant enhancements. While I wouldn't call the new features in Quicken 2000 compelling for users of Quicken 98 , they are going to be useful to many users. (Of course, if your bank requires Quicken 2000 for access to its online banking services, Quicken 2000 would be the way to go.)

If you are still using Quicken 6 or earlier, I strongly urge you to look at Quicken 2000 once it's released because you will see a dramatic improvement in both the feature set and ease of use of the program. Also some of those earlier versions of Quicken (including Quicken 97) had problems with the stability of their databases. This was vastly improved with Quicken 98 and I expect this will continue to be the case with Quicken 2000.

And then there is the matter of bug fixes: Intuit says some long-standing calculation errors in the Investment Management portion of Quicken which have lingered through Quicken 98 have finally been eliminated in Quicken 2000 -- once the program is released, I will test for this and include my findings in the Quicken 2000 review I'll be writing for TidBITS.

Because versions of Quicken prior to Quicken 98 are not completely year 2000 compliant, Intuit is offering a free upgrade to Quicken 98 . If you don't decide to purchase Quicken 2000, you should definitely make use of this offer!

Quicken Deluxe 2000 will have a suggested retail price of $59.95, but there will be a $20 rebate for upgraders. System 8.1 and a PowerPC processor will be required to run the program. It is expected the Quicken CD will also include Internet Explorer 4.5.


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