Quicken for Windows. (software package) (Evaluation)
by David English
In the early 1980s, one of the most persuasive arguments against home computers was the existence of computerized checkbook programs--they were so complicated that only computer jocks and accountants could figure them out. These days, home-finance programs are much easier to use and can do a lot more than balance your checkbook. The best-selling program of its kind, Quicken lets you work with multiple accounts, pay your bills electronically, track your stocks and investments, and create year-end tax reports--all for just $69.95.
So how do you improve a program that offers nearly every feature under the sun for a ridiculously low price? You create a Windows version. Quicken for Windows has all the features of the DOS version, as well as an icon bar for quick access to commonmenu commands; easy data export to windows spreadsheet, word processing, and tax programs; support for laser-printed wallet-style checks; and the ability to have multiple registers and reports open at the same time. Like the DOS version, Quicken for Windows is designed for both home finance and small business bookkeeping. In fact, Intuit reports that half the people who buy Quicken use it for business.
White it's hard to argue with a program that offers so much for so little, the icons could be a bit larger -- they're so small that you can barely tell them apart--and it would be useful to be able to view your budget as a chart or graph.
Fortunately for the consumer, Intuit won't have the Windows market all to itself. Microsoft recently released a near twin of Quicken for Windows with strikingly similar features and an identical price. Microsoft Money does a better job of spotting data-entry errors but lacks the investment and electronic-checking components of Quicken for Windows. Expect spirited competition between Intuit and Microsoft as each company tries to offer more features than the other. This normally quiet area of software publishing could create quite a ruckus over the next year or two.