For years, people used to bash Macs by noting the absence of what was viewed to be an absolute essential application. Though there’s still a hold-out or two (we’re still waiting for AutoCAD for Mac, despite hints to the contrary), things are much better these days.
No application, perhaps, embodies this change more than Intuit’s QuickBooks. The company abandoned support for business accounting software package on the Mac in 1997, then pushed out a superficial and generally disappointing port for OS X in 2003. But things started to look up three years ago with QuickBooks 2007 for Mac, the first Mac-like QuickBooks release in almost a decade.
Intuit’s newfound commitment to the platform continues with this morning’s announcement of QuickBooks 2010 for Mac (out in late October for $200), which uses signature OS X UI elements to create a more intuitive accounting experience.I had the chance to observe the software in action yesterday, and there’s a lot to be impressed by. Read on to learn more.
The preferences pane mimics the look of the System Preferences file, you can process credit card transactions directly with the help of a USB card reader, and it incorporates an elegant tracker called My Time which makes it really easy for consultants to monitor their billable hours. It even uses Cover Flow to quickly scroll through account reports.
In one particularly elegant (and very Mac-like) change, the new version reduces the steps needed to set up a new business in the program from between 20 and 100 to just 2. It also uses a nice spotlighting (as opposed to Spotlight) feature to help new users quickly get up to speed. Perhaps the nicest Mac-specific touch is the above financial Dashboard, which uses the UI elements of the OS X Dashboard to let you swap in different widgets for a snapshot of your financial data — it even uses the X in a circle that spins open to give you access to the hidden widgets.
All told, it looks like a nice package. It still lacks a few features found in the Windows version like multiuser support (“We’re working on it,” noted the Mac product manager), some limitations on inventory, or access to an SDK or APIs to build custom solutions, all of which are big challenges for any large corporation planning to go all Mac — just not for small and medium businesses.
The Mac-run business landscape is changing, dramatically. The Intuit spokesman I talked with said that two years ago, the Mac QuickBooks customer was generally in graphic design, web development or a sole proprietor. These days, larger companies are going all Mac — including long-time QuickBooks users for Windows.