Whither Mac Quicken?

Because what financial software really needs is Cover Flow.

At Macworld Expo 2008 in January, it was both exciting and a great relief to finally see a new version of Quicken. Even better, it appeared that the then tentatively-named Quicken Financial Life for Mac (QFLM) was some ways into the development process. Now in September, the name has been made official, and a public beta has begun, but looking at the FAQ and a few screenshots makes you wonder just what the final product will be, not to mention when it will ship. HangZhou Night Net

According to the FAQ, this rewrite of Quicken "has required significant engineering and quality testing," hence Intuit is taking "some extra time to get it right." Well, QFLM should be righteous indeed, as it has been over two years since pure torment Quicken Mac 2007 was released. QFLM is now expected to ship "this Winter," so break out your sundials, as that could be any time between December 21, 2008, and March 20, 2009.

Financial management software as bare bones as a CSI cold file.

For long-suffering Quicken users, now might be a good time to compare your system against the new requirements. While QFLM will run on most Macs made in the last five years, it will require Leopard. Mac users running Tiger are directed to a fate worse than death Quicken Mac 2007.

As for features, I was told at Macworld 2008 that the initial feature set would focus on core features: cash flow, downloading, taxes, budgeting. This appears borne out by the FAQ, which directs those needing "more advanced investment, reporting and personal finance features now" to purgatory Quicken Mac 2007.

Who needs individual stock tracking when you have colorful graphs and charts?

One feature that has apparently gotten the axe, at least for now, is Quicken's Bill Pay service, but since that costs $9.95 per month, it hardly seems like a loss. While you will be able to import data files from previous versions of Mac Quicken, nothing is said about Windows Quicken, and Microsoft Money is right out. Not surprisingly, there's no word on pricing, but the abomination of desolation Quicken Mac 2007 is $49.99, so don't expect QFLM to ship for less than that.

It's looking more and more like QFLM will be lucky to have feature parity with alternatives like Moneydance and iBank, with one exception. Because Intuit has a lock on the data format, only Quicken Financial Life for Mac will offer true compatibility with more than 4,400 financial institutions for direct downloads of transaction data. That singular feature will leave some of us, myself included, waiting with fear and trepidation for what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouching towards Macworld Expo to be shipped.

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