Quickbooks Has The Midas Touch

If everything you touch turns to gold, you need a good counting house and a way to take financial charge of customers, vendors, employees, banking, tracking, and planning. QuickBooks Premier Edition 2003 is up to the job. The easy-to-use program, which permits various task areas to share data, helps you to take care of everyday business: estimates, invoices, purchase orders, bank accounts, payroll, and more. We were impressed with QuickBooks’ agility and program stability. QuickBooks also lets you set up budgets, forecast profit and loss, and mind your to-do list, all within tidy, onscreen forms.

New tools in the 2003 edition include a respectable business-planning tool, a limited-analysis tool, and 12 months of remote access to your QuickBooks files over the Net. Highlights include the ability to add your logo to forms and to track inventory “assemblies” and individual items. In other words, you can count your chickens and their little hats, coats, and pairs of rain boots — and track either the components or the full unit.

But if you remember the tale, King Midas’ gift was also his curse: His Majesty eventually turned his own daughter to solid gold. Intuit seems to have the same longing to make a buck in too many places. Although you pay $499.95 for a single-user version of QuickBooks Premier 2003 ($1,499.95 for a five-user license), the program is stuffed with links to advertisements. Some icons that appear to be fully functioning parts of the program turn out to be limited trials. Whether you pay $19.95 or $49 for a program, you expect all ads to be taken out. But even after registering the QuickBooks Premier, the many advertising links remained. For a company that offers a business planning module in its software, Intuit ought to pick a business model and stick to it, by making QuickBooks either free adware or paid, ad-free software. One more caveat: In a multi-user environment, once you update the company file to the current software version, users with older versions won’t be able to open the file without upgrading, as well.

If you fully understand what you’re getting, and what you’re simply being teased (or annoyed) with, QuickBooks can be a charming, useful, and slick program. (www.intuit.com; $499.95)