Intuit today announced Quicken Home & Business Edition 2011, the latest edition of the company's personal finance software. The company has updated Quicken's interface to make the software easier to use, and the change coincides with the acquisition of Mint.com last year for $170 million.
Aaron Patzer, founder of Mint.com, and now vice president at Intuit (INTU) in charge of Quicken, is touring North America, explaining the changes to Quicken 2011. "We are doing a big graphic overhaul," Patzer said.
The results, he said, are already obvious. "Setup now takes 10 minutes, as opposed to half an hour in previous versions of Quicken," Patzer told Small Business Computing. "And the cleaner interface is now easier to learn."
The new interface features clickable pie charts -- if one piece of the pie seems too large or too small, click on it and read through the list of items. You can now re-size columns for easier reading. Patzer said that the column-header labels are better, every button is easier to read, and that information is easier to access.
Intuit said it also streamlined the software setup by including every bank and credit union in the United States. This means that no matter what credit card you use, the software will recognize it (and PayPal, too).
The updated software, according to Patzer, is also smarter. "People would type in 'BOA' and not get a result, and they'd think that we did not support Bank of America," Patzer said. "Now, if you type in 'BOA', the software recognizes that as Bank of America."
The system now recognizes thousands of credit cards. Intuit negotiated a relationship with the issuer of every credit card listed in Quicken 2011. "You don't want to try to imagine [the amount of work involved]," Patzer said.
Key Personal Finance Features
Quicken 2011 includes a calendar that shows upcoming bills and receivables and predicts the amount of cash in your main bank account accordingly.
It tracks expenses by category and includes an automatic tagging feature designed to accurately sort your expenses for you (legal, marketing, postage, etc.). Patzer said you can also create your own tags for expense categories as well as set a monthly budget for all categories
Quicken 2011 is designed to let SMB entrepreneurs track personal expenses, investments and property, and to separate personal and business expenses. Some people use one credit card for business expenses and another for personal expenses, in which case the separation is automatic. However, many others use the same credit card for everything, and if you do that, you'll use the categories feature to separate your business and personal expenses.
Some parts of the Quicken interface have not yet received the graphic upgrade, but will receive it in the future. For example, Patzer said that he expects to add more integration with online bill payment systems.
Pricing and Availability
The Quicken Home & Business Edition sells for $99.99, the same price as last year. Patzer said they kept the price the same despite the upgrade because two-thirds of Quicken buyers are returning users, but that some buy the software as rarely as once every five years.
They wait for a major upgrade, like this one, before buying Quicken again. The remaining one-third of purchasers are first-time buyers. Patzer said that Quicken needs to deliver real improvements every year in order to obtain sales from both returning customers and new users.
The software is available direct from Intuit. It is also available from distributors: bricks and mortar stores like Staples and online providers such as Amazon.
Alex Goldman is a contributing writer at SmallBusinessComputing.com.
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