QuickBooks Desktop comes to an end in the UKby
The transition to Making Tax Digital for income tax (MTD ITSA) looks to have prompted the demise of QuickBooks Desktop for customers in the UK.
On Wednesday 20 October, Intuit emailed QuickBooks Desktop users to inform them, “We are writing to let you know that sadly we have taken the decision to discontinue QuickBooks Desktop and Desktop Support for our UK customers.
“We won’t be launching a 2022 edition of QuickBooks Desktop in the UK, but you will continue to receive full support until 31 January 2023.”
An announcement on the QuickBooks website expanded on the company’s reasons for closing down the UK desktop edition. “Given the recent changes to accounting and tax regulations, and with more on the horizon, we need to ensure you’re on a product that can be supported with regular updates,” Intuit said.
“This was not a decision taken lightly as we know QuickBooks Desktop has been a significant support for accounting professionals across the country. But there were a number of reasons why we made the decision,” Intuit QuickBooks UK accountant segment lead Nick Williams said.
“We can’t [update] QuickBooks Desktop [so often], but we can with QuickBooks Online - we can develop features fast and roll out changes incredibly quickly, and then iterate.”
In essence, Intuit made a choice between devoting resources to supporting QB Desktop in the UK or developing local compliance functionality to manage Making Tax Digital for income tax (ITSA).
Connected service platform
According to Williams, the decision was part of a strategy to prioritise the development of cloud applications that will help customers “future proof their business” as the wider world shifts to digital services.
“When it comes to small businesses, our customers tell us they often use more than five applications to manage their business. This constant switching between disconnected tools to understand where their business stands leaves them feeling overwhelmed and out of control. Online allows connectivity to a range of add on apps that allow the end-user and accountant to bespoke their accounting software package to meet their specific or personal needs,” he said.
“Ultimately, these factors guide our decision to focus on QuickBooks Online. We want to help accounting professionals use digital to grow and scale their practices. We want to enable them to support small businesses so that whether they are starting or scaling up, they have a connected platform of tools and services.”
Data migration options
In a subsequent post on the QuickBooks community website, employee Ashleigh1 clarified that no QuickBooks Desktop UK versions will work after 31 January 2023 “and you will need to go to QuickBooks Online or another software and export all your data out of your desktop version.”
An update to the 2021 edition will be released in the coming months to help customers download the data, Ashleigh1 added.
User Buzz21 responded: “The standard of customer care here is appalling! The concept of having to export the data out of the product as the only future way to access the info is totally out of the question. Exported data will not be sufficient to enable businesses to provide suitable information to HMRC in the event of an enquiry. Intuit need to make it possible for the software to at least be read-only. No transfer to another product will enable all the data to come across in a fully usable way - QBO doesn't even have all the boxes for the data!”
The response from QB Desktop users on AccountingWEB in an Any Answers thread that appeared on the day fiona_howells received the discontinuation letter surfaced more resistance.
Some comments recognised the reasons for Intuit’s choice, but they were in a minority compared to members who vouched for the desktop edition’s functional superiority to QuickBooks Online and called on the company to reconsider its decision.
AccountingWEB member MRA commented: “For the larger, more complicated clients, ie multi-million-pound turnover, stock, multi-user and extensive price lists, there honestly doesn't seem to be any viable alternatives; highlighting the need for QB desktop to remain in the UK market. For a variety of reasons, online software simply does not suit or meet the needs for a large number of clients.”
Several members also complained about the way the decision was circulated, with inconsistent messages around licensing and transitional arrangements when the end comes in 2023.
The announcement comes at a time of growing disillusionment with the big cloud accounting software vendors, who have been criticised for their declining support and lack of contact with UK accountants.
In Intuit’s case, the company has been attempting to build a global brand around QuickBooks Online (QBO) since it was launched into the UK in 2013. While Intuit is gearing up to introduce a UK tax solution that will cater for MTD for income tax, some accountants with long memories will recall that the company brought its previous effort in this field to an abrupt end in 2005, when it sold the TaxCalc product rights to Acorah Software.
Yet another market exit does not enhance the company’s image for consistency and commitment to the UK market when QuickBooks Desktop will continue to be sold and supported in North America.
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AccountingWEB’s Editor at large has been with the site since 1999, rising from news editor to editor in chief, global editor and head of insight. As a roving editor, he continues to investigate the profession's use of technology around the world. He devotes his spare time to technology history and an oddball collection of stringed instruments...