One aspect of my business that never ceases to amaze me is how hardware and software vendors can make sudden changes that affect vast numbers of clients and end-users with little notice. The two I write about this month are significant; however, they are not representative of the entire industry.
Intuit is the maker of QuickBooks, the accounting software many individuals and businesses use to manage their finances. There are three desktop versions of QuickBooks: Pro, Premier, and Enterprise. In 2001, Intuit released a cloud-based version of QuickBooks, which purported to match the desktop versions. Often heated discussions on various forums show this effort has fallen short of expectations for those who are used to the desktop product.
Intuit has had a strict support policy for QuickBooks. It states that support for the current product is valid for three years from when it was issued. For example, Intuit released QuickBooks 2022 in September 2021. It will receive support until the fall of 2024, which means Intuit will publish updates and fix problems with its code during those three years. Anyone who purchases the product can call Intuit’s QuickBooks Support to resolve problems with installation and program errors. Help for how to use QuickBooks is relegated to website forums and accountants. After three years elapse, add-ons to QuickBooks will no longer function. These include Payroll Services, Online Backup, and Online Banking.
For the Pro and Premier versions, you used to be able to go to the Intuit website, Amazon, or a big-box store and purchase the software. You’d either get the CD/DVD and a license key or the license key along with a download link. That software purchase gave you three years of support. The Enterprise version was always an annual subscription.
Last year Intuit changed how you can purchase the product. They have implemented a subscription service for the Pro and Premier versions. (I predicted this more than a year ago for some of my clients.) You must buy the product every year if you wish to continue to use it. To make matters just a little bit worse, you can no longer purchase the Pro version from the Intuit website by clicking a Buy Now button. Intuit removed that option this year. You must call the Sales phone number at the top of the page.
As I learned last month, when you call, the sales agent, using a script, will push you to choose QuickBooks Online. If you say no to that option, they will attempt to get you to upgrade to the Premier version. And if you continue to say no, the sales agent is tasked to offer you additional for-fee options to the Pro version (e.g., Payroll Services, Online Backup, and Online Banking). All in all, not a pleasant buyer’s experience, certainly not one conducive to further purchases – except now, everyone who uses QuickBooks is a captive for a higher priced, not necessarily better, product every year.
Most people probably know Microsoft makes Office primarily consisting of Word, Excel, and Outlook. You might also know that Microsoft has made Office available as a cloud-based offering – in many forms and with different names – since 2010.
Over time, Office was installed from diskettes (6 in 1990), CDs, DVDs, and – most recently – using a license key and a download link. These are known as perpetual licenses. They are valid for as long as you use the computer on which you installed the program. For several years, Microsoft hinted there would come a day when they would stop issuing those product versions. That day is now more visible and inevitable. Last month one of my colleagues reminded me that Office 2013 is going out of support in April 2023. While I wasn’t surprised that a ten-year-old product was ending, what surprised me was the end dates for Office 2016 and 2019. Look a look at the chart below.
|Offering||Start||Mainstream End||Extended End|
|2013||Jan 9, 2013||Apr 10, 2018||Apr 11, 2023|
|2016||Sep 22, 2015||Oct 13, 2020||Oct 14, 2025|
|2019||Sep 24, 2018||Oct 13, 2023||Oct 14, 2025|
|2021||Oct 5, 2021||Oct 13, 2026||Not applicable|
Please note that the last day of support for Windows 10 is also October 14, 2025.
What is someone with a perpetual “Home and Student” or “Home and Business” version of Office supposed to do? The only solution is to purchase a subscription to the appropriate cloud product, as follows:
|Consumer (Student):||Microsoft 365 Personal||$69.99 per year|
|Business:||Microsoft 365 Apps for business||$99.00 per year|
I will distinguish between an individual purchasing a “Microsoft 365 Personal” or “Microsoft 365 Apps for business” subscription on the Microsoft website versus a business subscribing its staff to Microsoft 365 Business Standard or Business Premium via my Microsoft partner program, NCE. Individuals must create a Microsoft Account (a unique-to-Microsoft email address) to purchase the license because Microsoft will save your credit card information. I can provide subscriptions for businesses through NCE that get are included on their monthly bills.
While it is going to be relatively easy to create a FirstName.LastName@Outlook.com email address for individuals (unless your name is Bob Smith), Business accounts – for actual businesses – must go through NCE to ensure the default “onmicrosoft.com” administrator account gets created. After that, it requires several administrator steps to link the business’ legal website name to the product.
By October 14, 2025, Microsoft will (most likely) require a Microsoft Account to access any new Windows 11 computer. If so, then you must use the same email address for Office!
I can’t say I’m looking forward to these changes because if they are difficult for me to adjust to, they will probably play some havoc for the clients I support.
Thanks, and safe computing!