Editor at large AccountingWEB
Columnist
Share this content
Intuit HQ, Mountain View CA, 2017

QuickBooks Desktop comes to an end in the UK

by

​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.

3rd Nov 2021
Editor at large AccountingWEB
Columnist
Share this content

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!”

Users react

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.

Replies (25)

Please login or register to join the discussion.

By amalonio
03rd Nov 2021 20:48

My experience of QBO is it's awful and their support is terrible also. To me it's way behind Xero in terms of ease of use, the UI is much better & Xero has lots more better features and a far better platform for Xero partners. Just a much bigger marketing budget it looks like to me with QBO.
I remember using Qbooks desktop just starting out in practice 17 years ago and it was great at that point so strange to see it not being discontinued!

Thanks (0)
Replying to amalonio:
avatar
By AdamMurphy
03rd Nov 2021 21:52

I agree, if I get a new client who say they've been using QBO I almost have to decide my disgust! Xero ones more than welcome though.
Neither are as good as desktop accounts software but Xero is the better cloud version.

Thanks (0)
Replying to amalonio:
Jonathan@Aiteo
By [email protected]
04th Nov 2021 09:54

Each to their own I suppose. But I genuinely can't understand criticism of QBO's support, especially when compared to Xero.

Thanks (2)
Replying to amalonio:
By Charlie Carne
04th Nov 2021 09:57

I think that it's a case of what you're used to. Both Xero and QBO are excellent products but, because I use QBO more than Xero, I find QBO very much easier to use, with a very simple and clear UI. I can even train clients to do the basics in a few minutes, as it is so straight forward to use.

And, as for support, the telephone support for QBO Pro Advisors is superb; not quite as good as it was 2 years ago, but still excellent. Xero, on the other hand, has no telephone support at all, so I'm confused by your opinion that Xero scores more highly on that metric.

Thanks (2)
By Duggimon
04th Nov 2021 09:02

I have never seen a set of books kept on Quickbooks Desktop that were anything better than dreadful. Not the fault of the software which was presumably functional, but every user of it who's darkened my door has been awful at bookkeeping.

Thanks (0)
Replying to Duggimon:
avatar
By Paul Crowley
04th Nov 2021 09:29

+1
Of the users I have come in contact with all were using it as a VAT return producer, not Accounts in full so did not enter non VAT items
In most cases we simply started again from bank statements

Thanks (0)
Replying to Duggimon:
avatar
By AdamMurphy
04th Nov 2021 10:04

Current cloud software adverts have a lot to answer for regarding this too. All in the vein of take a photo, bish-bash-bosh, job's a good-un. Who needs to learn accounting principles?

Thanks (0)
By Lynda Williams
04th Nov 2021 09:45

They haven't even e mailed us with this news yet - despite the fact that they happily send us billing invoice each month.

Thanks (0)
Replying to Lynda Williams:
avatar
By Catherine Newman
04th Nov 2021 09:52

I am a Pro Advisor and I haven't had it although I was aware of it through AW.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By keithsharvey
04th Nov 2021 09:48

“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.”

So having downloadable program updates isn't straightforward, always seems to work for Microsoft, adobe etc etc etc (well MS updates is another story!!)

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.

Errmmmm so are desktop packages analogue then?

Thanks (1)
avatar
By wpotten
04th Nov 2021 09:49

Shame, but it’s been coming for a while. I always found desktop much easier and more intuitive to use, and couldn’t believe the first time I used online, it was like using a completely different product.

Thanks (1)
avatar
By johnjenkins
04th Nov 2021 09:54

If you want a desk top software that does what it says on the tin, download VT and have a play. You will be pleasantly surprised.

Thanks (2)
avatar
By Rgab1947
04th Nov 2021 10:03

I do get the impression its again typical conservative accountants not wanting change.

I do agree desktop is better for larger complicated clients but for the smaller ones QBO is more than adequate and as good as Xero. Both have limitations.

If a client is "awful at bookkeeping" I would suggest its the client not the software. With AI in both QBO and Xero and with bankfeeds there is no reason to "only use it for VAT return producing". Again its the client who cant be bothered to set-up bankfeeds, match and add the entries to the right categories etc. etc. Its not difficult folks.

I will not comment on Xero or QB support as I rarely need to use them or on QB poor communication skills.

Come on lets get into the 21st century.

Thanks (0)
Replying to Rgab1947:
avatar
By cmlnot
04th Nov 2021 11:25

I have a mixture of clients on QBO and desktop. I agree that QBO has limitations, I have several small companies who are perfectly happy with it and the support is good for Pro Advisors.

My concern is for the larger complicated clients. QBO has simply not got the functionality.

What other solutions are other accountants offering their clients?

Thanks (1)
Replying to cmlnot:
avatar
By fiona_howells
04th Nov 2021 13:29

That is the point for the larger more complicated option there doesn't appear to be a viable alternative

Thanks (2)
Replying to cmlnot:
avatar
By PAMDILL
04th Nov 2021 15:49

I still offer Sage 50C accounts for larger or complicated accounts and if the client is wanting to use it themselves in their office then add on the remote access so we can access it at our end.

Don't get me wrong I think it is getting expensive for some of the smaller clients but I struggle to find an online accounting software that can match it for several items:-

Sales orders with multiple line items that are delivered individually over a long period of time, in some cases up to a couple of years,yet need despatch notes and invoiced at time of delivery.

Sales payment applications that post to the customer ledger accounts to show debtors correctly but post sales and VAT to the correct nominal codes without affecting a VAT Return when the client is beyond the turnover threshold for cash VAT.

Recurring journals

Easy to view transaction list

Thanks (0)
Replying to Rgab1947:
avatar
By keithsharvey
04th Nov 2021 14:17

Rgab1947 wrote:

I do get the impression its again typical conservative accountants not wanting change.

I do agree desktop is better for larger complicated clients but for the smaller ones QBO is more than adequate and as good as Xero. Both have limitations.

If a client is "awful at bookkeeping" I would suggest its the client not the software. With AI in both QBO and Xero and with bankfeeds there is no reason to "only use it for VAT return producing". Again its the client who cant be bothered to set-up bankfeeds, match and add the entries to the right categories etc. etc. Its not difficult folks.

I will not comment on Xero or QB support as I rarely need to use them or on QB poor communication skills.

Come on lets get into the 21st century.

It shouldn't be difficult to setup bank feeds etc but then it shouldn't be difficult to get clients to keep all of the paperwork and only use business accounts for business transactions etc but in the real world.... All of the cloud packages seem to have quirks and limitations (as do desktop but in different ways) but it's this tv marketing which seems to suggest doing something manually (aka properly more often!) rather than it being in the cloud makes it slow, old fashioned etc etc. Whether it's running on the pc on your desk, server in the corner of the room or a server in an Azure or AWS farm it's still a program running on a computer. Easier for the integration of further apps but in reality most of the time slower to actually use, with more restrictions on what you can correct and worse reporting.

10 years time sure they'll probably all be sufficiently developed to be good but at the moment imo they're all limited and work ok for the smallest of clients. Let's compare it to the electric car market - what was on the market 10 years ago compared to now?

Thanks (1)
Replying to keithsharvey:
avatar
By Paul Crowley
05th Nov 2021 19:34

Milk floats?

Thanks (1)
avatar
By yaakovgrant
04th Nov 2021 10:45

QB desktop, with its deficiencies, was overall an excellent program. Class reporting in the P&L and BS was second to none and the Audit trail report was truly magnificent for picking up amended or deleted entries with a very clear name and shame trail of "before" and "after" for each transaction (and of course the "before before " version too).

QBO audit trail report is a list of transactions, sortable and exportable but columns not really customisable, and no "before" and "after".

Xero "History and Notes" is really pathetic. If you are looking for a bunch of amendments, of who did what when and how many of them, you could end up looking for a needle in a haystack.

The QB desktop audit trail report will be sorely missed, RIP.

Thanks (3)
By jon_griffey
04th Nov 2021 11:06

On the plus side, it is good for accountants when coming to do their year end accounts not to have to worry about restoring their backups to our PC's and them all using different versions of the software.

Thanks (2)
Morph
By kevinringer
04th Nov 2021 14:59

My choice isn't QuickBooks desktop or online but, Sage desktop. As with QB: Sage desktop is a much better product and Sage online. My concern is that with demise of QB desktop, might Sage desktop go the same way. I have some clients with QB online and I cringe every time it is mentioned. Though I must say QBO support is excellent. If only I didn't need to contact them at all.

Thanks (1)
avatar
By Ken Howard
05th Nov 2021 19:12

Personally, I moved our in-house clients off QB desktop and also moved quite a few clients who did their own book-keeping away from QB desktop in around 2009 (ish) due to the fiasco with the VAT functionality around that time which was an unmitigated foul up. I spent several years not recommending QB at all.

I gave the QB Online a try when it first came out (maybe 2014 ish) and was very unimpressed, so I didn't stick with it at that time, but a year or so ago, a client took it upon themselves to use it, so I ended up having to work with it, and was pleasantly surprised. It was hugely better than their earlier online attempt. I've since started to put in-house book-keeping onto it and started recommended it to clients. The recent enhancements have made it a strong contended against xero and it's cheaper!

Thanks (1)
Morph
By kevinringer
10th Nov 2021 13:46

If QB desktop is still to be supported in USA, would it still work in the UK with a USA licence?

Thanks (0)
avatar
By natral
26th Nov 2021 16:25

We knew this was coming and dreaded the day. QBO looks hopeless, especially in comparison with Qbks Desktop, which was a 'Godsend' when found in 1998 and has remained so throughout our growth from £100k-£10m+ t/o today. For starters, we're not in cable-bb vicinity and our home-working bb can often be just 1.5Mbps. Then there's the dramatically trimmed-down version of Qbks Desktop that QBO can best kindly described as. So we're going to Xero (with bolt-ons LightYear and Futrli. Nightmare already! Anybody any experience of SageIntacct please, as we're liking what it's brochure describes?

Thanks (0)
Replying to natral:
avatar
By yaakovgrant
29th Nov 2021 09:50

Not sure how you decided to go for Xero. Even if it was for the two apps you mentioned, I would still question your choice. Yes, QBO doesn't have some features that were available on the Desktop version (eg Detailed customer and supplier transaction reports with bills/ invoices AND payments and the audit trail report I mentioned above) but it is far more accountant-friendly than Xero and in many ways superior to QB desktop (eg bank feeds, quick search feature, document uploads etc)

As I said above the "History and Notes" feature on transactions and the report itself on Xero is a joke and nowhere near the Audit trail features on QBO (eg Audit trail on each transaction, Audit trail report and Last Modified Date and Last Modified By columns in Transactiond detail reports) but QBO also has two more significant benefits :

Excellent range of reports, which are easy to customise and readable-on-one screen
Page navigation that is logical and fluid

On Xero the reporting has always been and still is all over the place. It can change from one day to the next without warning just to discover the "improvements" are still not right (eg a few months back Xero introduced "Account codes" on the new P&L and BS which are now about 6 years old, not to be confused with the old P&L and BS which are available if the new ones dont work, but when you select the box to include Account codes an update, the P&L is still in alphabetical order, with the Account codes not in sequential order, looking like they have gatecrashed the party)

I often wonder how many qualified accountants work for Xero.

Thanks (0)