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Users accuse Intuit of 'heavy-handed' support changes on QuickBooks for Desktop

Customers either face update cliff edge or loss of access in licensing shift

Intuit, purveyors of small business accounting software, has infuriated some customers after committing to turning off access to on-prem licensed desktop software or ending support and upgrades by the month's end.

The $12.7 billion revenue biz says customers who bought a perpetual license for its QuickBooks for Desktop will see support, updates, fixes and online features end from June 30. Those using the same product under a subscription licence will be denied access to the product after the deadline, and only be able to view and export data using an AWS tool.

In both cases, the vendor recommends users switch to QuickBooks Online, a different product with not all the features of the earlier version included.

One user, who asked not to be named, told The Register: "The whole thing seems very heavy-handed. We moved to their cloud product a couple of years ago. However, we still have historical data on-premises and at the end of this month the desktop product will cease to work.

"There is a tool that allows reports from the old data to be exported, but not as far as I can tell a dump of all the transactions. This is extra work for us, but also worrying that we may not be able to get everything that we need in the future."

Another user who contacted El Reg said they had bought QuickBooks Desktop 2016 on a perpetual license and had been told by the vendor that it was "not just discontinuing support for the desktop version, but were crippling it so you would not even be able to open a company file. They are releasing a 'viewer' so you could continue to read your company file."

Pauline Green, head of product compliance & programs at Intuit QuickBooks, sent us a statement:

"We want to assure our customers that those who have a perpetual licence (i.e. have purchased outright) will not lose access to their QuickBooks desktop product. The perpetual licence does mean that the purchaser has not benefited from any updates to the software for many years.

"We encourage our customers to read the online support resources and FAQ's, as there will no longer be support provided; however, we will continue to offer installation and activation services. The move away from Desktop ensures customers stay compliant and can benefit from the updates available through QuickBooks Online."

Intuit said customers who had bought a perpetual license for a one-time fee either directly or through a retail outlet or accountant would be able to continue using the product but didn't say which version. Support and updates would end.

In a separate statement to AccountingWeb, Intuit said: "Subscribed customers paying a monthly fee and using QuickBooks for Desktop on a SaaS [software as a service] basis need to take action. Billing will stop at the end of May and access to Desktop will stop at the end of June.

"Once customers have moved to QuickBooks Online or alternative financial management software, they will have the ability to view and export data from their desktop company file using a new AWS data export service which will be available until 2030."

Sage, also a specialist in SME accounting software, has similarly been accused of forcing customers onto online products with unfair techniques.

In July last year, it was accused of mis-selling perpetual licenses for software for which the vendor was due to turn off vital online features, including license verification. Sage put this down to support for a newer version of the Transport Layer Security protocol, but users argued that was not a valid technical reason and claimed they were being treated unfairly.

Sage told The Register at the time: "Software platforms are built in different ways and as such giving prior notice to upcoming changes in terms of security protocols and other technological changes is standard practice.

"The stability and security of The Transport Layer Security protocol is the core focus, not the age of it. The need to amend to a new protocol occurred following the launch of our Sage50 products and after the Internet Engineering Task Force (IEFT) formally discouraged the use of it." ®

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