Why Intuit Stops Supporting Older Versions of Its Software

My clients often ask me the following question: “Why does Intuit do this? Is there another reason besides forcing us to upgrade?”

I’m going to take a moment to reflect on this issue ….

First of all, Intuit is one of the very few software manufacturers that commit to releasing a new version of their software each year. A new set of features is introduced each year based on extensive feedback and research panels from end users and accountants.

Second, Intuit is faced with the enormous task of providing “technical support” to QuickBooks users, requiring technical staff to have knowledge of every version year as well as accounting knowledge in order to understand what QuickBooks users are asking for when they contact Support. Not many technical support staff of any company in the United States offers that type of versatility.

Let’s take a look at another other popular software package for businesses to have a fair comparison of what other software manufacturers do: Microsoft Office. The version years of this program skip from Office 97 to Office XP (2000), from Office 2003 to Office 2007, and now to Office 2010. This leads me to believe that the sweet spot for new software release is three years. According to their LifeCycle Support website, Microsoft is scheduled to end support for Office 2007 SP2 on Jan. 8, 2013. Based on this analysis, Microsoft releases a new version on average every three years and supports it for six years.

Intuit, on the other hand, releases a new version every year and supports it for 3 ½ years (October release through May, three years later). Very similar ratios I would say.

However, this article is not about comparisons; this is about understanding Intuit’s support sunset policy. Let’s take a look at QuickBooks version 9.0. Intuit released 14 service packs during its 3 ½ year support period for this specific version of QuickBooks, while simultaneously releasing service packs for 2010, 2011 and 2012. Every year, Intuit includes fixes and updates to its new version, so there are continuous improvements to their software.

As an accountant or a QuickBooks ProAdvisor, you are in the best position to help your clients understand this policy because it is pivotal to helping your clients have uninterrupted service. In the 2012 version of QuickBooks, there are more than 100 new features compared to version 2009, providing plenty of reasons to upgrade. And, QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions offers a discount for upgrades, usually 20% off retail.  Add in the annual Full Service Plan and your clients will always have the latest and greatest version.

Intuit’s philosophy of releasing a new version with new features each year, in addition to releasing updates and corrections to their past versions on average every 3 months, truly reflects their goals of continuous improvement.

As an accountant, helping your clients follow the same philosophy is imperative.