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QuickBooks Desktop shutdown looms as accountants ponder alternatives

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Intuit’s decision to shutter support for its UK desktop product from 30 June has left users and accountants asking what will happen after the deadline and whether there are viable replacements that offer feature parity on the market.

24th May 2023
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In October 2021, Intuit announced it was discontinuing QuickBooks Desktop support and updates for its UK customers, citing compliance changes and a shift in UK product development focus. 

Initially slated for 31 January 2023, Intuit pushed the discontinuation back to 30 June 2023 in response to users’ demands for more time. However, with the new deadline inching closer, accountants have reported a surge in enquiries from desktop users looking to migrate, and accounting forums have been busy with discussions about the practical considerations and implications of the closure for their firms and clients.

What will happen on 1 July 2023?

AccountingWEB contacted Intuit to ask what will happen after the shutdown deadline to QuickBooks Desktop software for UK users who don’t move to another software and export all data from their desktop system. A spokesperson provided the following statement: “Customers who purchased a perpetual licence for a one-time fee either directly or through a retail outlet and/or accountant can continue to use QuickBooks for Desktop as normal but without support,” said the statement. “The security risks here, linked to using unsupported versions, are the same as using any other older software – high and will only get greater over time. In some cases the outright versions haven’t had security updates for years, so changing to newer software would be recommended anyway. 

“Subscribed customers paying a monthly fee and using QuickBooks for Desktop on a SaaS [software as a service] basis need to take action now,” continued the statement. “Billing will stop at the end of May and access to Desktop will stop at the end of June. Once customers have moved to QuickBooks Online or alternative financial management software, they will have the ability to view and export data from their desktop company file using a new AWS data export service which will be available until 2030.”

Several accountants working with QuickBooks Desktop clients told AccountingWEB that after 30 June all live connections and add-ons will drop out for perpetual licence users, with a variety of knock-on effects.

Without a live connection, VAT-registered businesses will not be able to file VAT returns through the software, although exporting data to file VAT returns using bridging software is an alternative.

Updates and support will also be discontinued, with users left to manually troubleshoot any issues. For example, if data becomes corrupted there will be no support on hand to help, or if hackers discover a weakness in a particular desktop version (and can access it), the system could be left comprised without an upcoming update to patch the vulnerability.

For subscription customers, based on the statement above and forum posts from Intuit, users who have not moved to another software look likely to lose access to their accounting system. Access to records could also be made read-only in a similar way to if a user’s subscription had lapsed. AccountingWEB asked Intuit for clarification on the issue and received the following statement: "Our data export tool has been provided to help meet certain requirements - such as HMRC audits. It is not intended to replace the desktop version. It will enable some data to be viewed and exported but not all. Reports and invoices can be downloaded but they cannot be edited or deleted. Attachments to bills/invoices are not available to view or download."

The information above depends on the version the user is operating, and users are advised to check their individual circumstances with Intuit directly.

Alternatives and feature parity

Discussions about the move have centred on alternatives to QuickBooks Desktop, and among the chief topics of conversation has been a lack of comparable features from many of its online equivalents.

Ryan Pearcy, associate partner at Scrutton Bland, told AccountingWEB his firm followed a set process for all QuickBooks Desktop clients. “We let clients know that the program is coming to an end and our SBDigital team use it as an opportunity to assess their systems, ask what they actually use in QuickBooks Desktop and find out what they want from a system in the future,” said Pearcy. “We then set out the options: some go for the transition to QuickBooks Online, some look around and move to the likes of Xero, while others with more complex requirements often end up with multiple integrated solutions.”

Aaron Patrick, head of accounts at Boffix and co-host of the QuickBooks Labs podcast, told AccountingWEB he’d been inundated with enquiries from desktop software users looking to make the move. 

“When there’s feature parity the majority go to QuickBooks Online,” said Patrick. “It’s just about making that jump and learning a few new tricks – the biggest issue is change.”

However, Patrick added that for some this was not possible, particularly for multicurrency businesses and those using QuickBooks to manage stock. “There are some we can’t migrate because there isn’t feature parity,” he said. “The stock issue is a major sticking point. We’re looking at third-party apps such as Loyverse to find a solution.”

Other alternatives suggested by the AccountingWEB community are SOS Inventory and Erplain

Back in 2020, Intuit acquired inventory platform TradeGecko but the following year shut it down as a standalone company. Some TradeGecko features have since re-emerged on the vendor’s QuickBooks Advanced product in the US but have yet to make it across the Atlantic, leaving businesses managing stock and looking to stay with QuickBooks in limbo.

“Where it’s appropriate, we’re challenging users to find a really good stock management solution and see if they can find efficiencies through automation,” continued Patrick. “The emphasis shouldn’t be on stock management within your financial management system.”

Exporting tool and Movemybooks

To ensure data isn’t lost after the shutdown, QuickBooks Desktop users can create a backup using the data export tool to download company data. However, according to an Intuit support page, this can’t be used to directly move data from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online.

For those looking to move to QuickBooks Online or other accounting systems, initially Intuit made a migration tool available but this was pulled last year. Instead, desktop users can use third-party data conversion tools. QuickBooks itself has partnered with Movemybooks to allow users to migrate the current financial year and the previous year to QuickBooks Online (or Xero or Sage) free of charge, according to Intuit. In a statement provided to AccountingWEB, Intuit stated this offer would not be permanent, but gave no specific date at which it would be rescinded.

For additional years of transaction history, there will be a charge. According to its website (at the time of writing), Movemybooks will charge £75 per additional year converted, the exact cost of which can be established using the Movemybooks pricing Wizard.

Users can also use Movemybooks to move to Sage Accounting or Xero for the data conversion tool’s standard fee.

In a thread discussing the move, AccountingWEB member AndrenaM said they had used the Movemybooks tool for QuickBooks data export with a limited number of issues. “I did have to use it the other week to move from [QuickBooks] Desktop to Online and it came up with five accounts that had discrepancies between the Desktop figure and the figure in the Online version which then needed investigating,” said AndrenaM. “It was mainly VAT codes and credit note allocations that caused the issues. Make sure all the VAT codes that you used in the Desktop version are set up in the Online version before you move, even if they are old codes that aren’t used any more.”

“Movemybooks is a great tool but is not without its faults,” added Scrutton Bland’s Pearcy. “Depending on the data in the original file and its processes, it can leave areas unreconciled, reports not making sense or data just missing. It is imperative a thorough review is carried out post-conversion. At SBDigital we complete the conversions for clients as we’ve plenty of experience of what may go wrong and if it does, how to fix it quickly, minimising the downtime for the client.”

Patrick also flagged that key customer information could be lost in the migration to QuickBooks Online such as the ability to store bank payment details. Users need to upgrade to QuickBooks Online Advanced, which offers custom fields including customer and supplier information.

Desktop phase-out 

The move echoes a wider shift in the accounting software industry, as established desktop vendors seek to establish and support one cloud platform rather than having to regularly update multiple versions of desktop software.

Last year Sage conducted a desktop-cloud shift, where users of several older Sage desktop products potentially faced losing access to their data unless they upgraded to a subscription product or exported their files.

QuickBooks Desktop continues to be sold and supported in North America.

QuickBooks resources

For QuickBooks customers looking to move from Desktop, Intuit sent AccountingWEB the following links.

Quickbooks Desktop discontinuation (overviews and FAQs)

 Viewing and moving historical data

Additional resources

*25 May 2023: This article was amended to correct the date when the discontinuation was announced

*26 May 2023: This article was amended to add the fact that users can use Movemybooks to move records from QB Desktop to Xero or Sage as well

Replies (34)

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By Hugo Fair
24th May 2023 16:26

Taxpayer:
"I work all night, I work all day to pay the bills I have to pay
Ain't it sad?
And still there never seems to be a single penny left for me
That's too bad"

Intuit:
"Money, money, money
Always sunny
In the rich man's world"

... or if you're a bit older, try George Harrison's 'Piggies'.

Naked greed in action ... first Sage, now Intuit and who's next?

Thanks (8)
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By Catherine Newman
24th May 2023 18:34

I would hope that with MTD for ITSA being postponed, hopefully scrapped, they will change their minds and quickly. It will go from me paying the subscription to having to ask the clients I have on it to pay the subscription online. Some of them barely have a profit but provide entertainment to tourists. They are in some way providing services to the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway-less than 5 miles away from me (owning engines pulling carriages from Broadway to Cheltenham ( a great tourist attraction).

If Intuit are that small minded I will migrate to a company that isn't.

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Replying to Catherine Newman:
alastair_barlow
By Alastair Barlow
24th May 2023 19:47

Who would you migrate to?

Surely it will be like using a VHS player...they may still exist but you ain't getting anything new for them.

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Replying to Alastair Barlow:
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By Hugo Fair
24th May 2023 22:36

Not really .. I can still (albeit rarely) play a VHS tape on my extremely elderly player - at least until it encounters mechanical failure (at which point I can get it repaired).

Whereas with the recent Sage policy (and probably that from Intuit who are being less than clear on the subject), they remotely disabled the 'player' ... such that the owner cannot even power it up!

In the same way that I have hundreds of tapes that are not sufficiently important to me to invest in having them transposed to another (probably short shelf-life) format ... many organisations have accounting (and client etc) records that may not be mission critical but that it's nice to know can still be searched if needed.

A *very* clear distinction from your analogy.

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Replying to Alastair Barlow:
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By graydjames
25th May 2023 09:36

That's a false analogy.

The correct analogy is like moving from streaming a film to buying the DVD or BluRay.

I'd sooner have the BluRay thank you. I can watch it on my terms, on my preferred hardware, avoid connection delays, and not have to rely on an internet connection (350 mb download) and WiFi that doesn't always reach everywhere I need it.

Until Internet speeds in the UK catch up with most of the rest of the world, I'll stick to (generally better) software on my own hard drive thank you very much.

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Replying to graydjames:
alastair_barlow
By Alastair Barlow
25th May 2023 15:16

How are you benchmarking it as 'better' software?

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Replying to Alastair Barlow:
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By Postingcomments
25th May 2023 15:41

Analogies never properly match the situation at hand - because they are not the situation at hand.

I'm sure people use them in order to deceive. To dress up a flawed argument in a way that might help it to slip through unnoticed.

If you want to debate something. Debate it. Don't start making up scenarios about VHS players or the like.

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By D V Fields
24th May 2023 19:07

Got as far as “shutter” and switched off.

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Replying to D V Fields:
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By Joe Alderson
25th May 2023 10:29

It is grammatically correct.

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Replying to Joe Alderson:
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By BrianL
25th May 2023 11:14

Not according to my OED, it ain't.

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Replying to BrianL:
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By D V Fields
25th May 2023 16:52

Truth be told starting a conversation with "So" probably annoys me more. I just want to reply with "So what?"

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By sbeardon
25th May 2023 09:27

It is also free to use movemybooks to migrate to Xero for the current financial year and previous one

Thanks (1)
Replying to sbeardon:
Tom Herbert
By Tom Herbert
25th May 2023 10:17

Thanks for that sbeardon - will amend the piece to reflect this.

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By Penny Cole
25th May 2023 09:44

We used Movemybooks and what a disaster. We were going to test this upload with a small company but our largest client wanted this migration as one of the directors has moved to another location and he wanted remote access.

After the download there were numerous discrepancies and an option to email Movemybooks for assistance but I got the reply that they were far too busy to help and that was it. I then had to reconcile a year's bank accounts and credit cards and I have spent at least 3 hours on the phone to QuickBooks to try and sort some of the problems out. None of the opening balances match What a nightmare! Now entering up opening balances for companies manually and starting from scratch. NEVER NEVER going to use Movemybooks again!! Fortunately this client is accepting of this situation and willing to pay for our time sorting this out, but not all will be. I have literally been having nightmares about this situation.

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Replying to Penny Cole:
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By raju m
25th May 2023 10:09

The fun is completely gone out of Accountancy profession.

Thanks (3)
Replying to Penny Cole:
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By Theresa Parker
25th May 2023 11:15

I have to admit, I have used Movemybooks multiple times to migrate from QBDT to QBO and thought it was very easy to use. For a successful transition, I made sure that all reconciliations were completed and the best point to move was directly after submitting a VAT return. Then once imported, I simply was able to reconcile bank by clicking select all. I have also used Movemybooks to export from Xero to QBO as well. The main disappointment for me was that prior to partnering with Movemybooks, we were able to migrate to QBO via QBDT, which was a free service and allowed for all data to be exported. When Intuit lost this functionality and partnered with Movemybook, we then had to pay extra if we wanted to export all data. I personally feel that Intuit should have at least honoured the cost for transferring data for the length of time that clients need to keep their records for - after all they are receiving a higher monthly subscription if all clients transferred to QBO.

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Replying to Theresa Parker:
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By Penny Cole
06th Jun 2023 14:55

I tried "select all" and then discovered about 30% of the items hadn't been transferred so had to go through every single bank statement for each month and manually reconcile. Same applied to the credit cards. Total nightmare!!

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Replying to Theresa Parker:
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By Penny Cole
06th Jun 2023 14:55

I tried "select all" and then discovered about 30% of the items hadn't been transferred so had to go through every single bank statement for each month and manually reconcile. Same applied to the credit cards. Total nightmare!!

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Replying to Theresa Parker:
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By Penny Cole
06th Jun 2023 14:55

I tried "select all" and then discovered about 30% of the items hadn't been transferred so had to go through every single bank statement for each month and manually reconcile. Same applied to the credit cards. Total nightmare!!

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Replying to Penny Cole:
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By Self-Employed and Happy
30th May 2023 10:45

We used Movemybooks for all of our clients 4 years ago to get them from Sage Desktop or Xero onto Quickbooks Online, I actually thought it worked really really well.

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By cbp99
25th May 2023 09:44

Can QB desktop do anything that VT cannot do? (That's a question, not a rhetorical question!)

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By raju m
25th May 2023 09:55

We have all become slaves of Computer companies, inland Revenue -MTD-and VAT office etc.

It is time to call it a day and retire.??? Raj Mehta

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By Roy Price
25th May 2023 10:07

I have used Quick Books Desk Top and the Quick Books online for many years. Having come into the profession from a corporate world in which I was involved with high end software and latterly dealing with Sage, Sage Online and Xero I have always been pleased to come back to Quick Books Desk Top: in my opinion a superb piece of software that set a bench mark and was widely imitated. I am at a loss to know why they have discontinued it.
I had many clients successfully and easily transfer to Quick Books Online: its multi user aspect greatly improved efficiency in my providing services to clients. Particularly when use is made of the integrated bank feed and the document input from the document scanning services.
Trying to retire and an old client has asked me to solve a mess in one of those corporate pieces of software!!!

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Bee
By May bee
25th May 2023 10:17

I've been putting the migration off for about a dozen clients as busy with other stuff, still naively hoping they'll delay it and dreading the inevitable migration issues and client training needed. My client with stock requirements are my biggest worry. The others will slot into QBO OK (with the expected lost of features, reporting etc) although i'm kidding a few near-retirement in house bookkeepers that they'll make the switch without too much adjustments. The worst thing is that I can understand the sense in Intuit's decision. Desktop is a superb product and nothing comes close. They could charge 4x what they do and i would still encourage clients to use it. Muppets!

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By Moo
25th May 2023 11:18

Still running 3 small family companies on QB 2012 desktop, have never bothered to update - if it aint bust etc and didn't use payroll function. Companies no longer trading so very few transactions, if/when QB does fall over I will move them over to excel.
If excel falls over I will be reduced to counting on my fingers - digital by default.

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Replying to Moo:
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By Hugo Fair
25th May 2023 13:36

Never thought of 'digital by default' quite like that before .. but I love the way it brings it all back full circle.

Of course, it's quite possible that when HMRC use the phrase it's an in-house euphemism for their generic response to 'customer' enquiries ... raising a single finger!

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By colinb
25th May 2023 16:22

Until today I had believed that desktop would still be useable, just not supported. Which would be fine and give us more time to either migrate to QBO or elsewhere. I have now discovered we will not even be able to open desktop after the 30th.

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Replying to colinb:
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By Catherine Newman
25th May 2023 17:17

That was what I was told. The licence number would disappear and without a licence number you can't open the software.

Let's hope there can be a campaign via Tom for the status quo to prevail.

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Morph
By kevinringer
28th May 2023 09:43

Mother (the software industry) knows best. How many times has software been "upgraded" only for users to discover that a great piece of functionality has been removed? I've seen it with Windows, Outlook, our tax software, our final accounts software, HMRC etc. All because the developers reckon they know how users should use the software, whereas developers don't use it at all, so haven't a clue. Given so many who are leaving QBDT are not switching to QBO, Intuit will lose those customers completely. I assume Intuit factored that into their decision. But as they're going to lose them completely, if Intuit didn't want to support QBDT in future, I wonder if Intuit considered selling it so that users could have retained the product but with a different supplier.

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Replying to kevinringer:
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By Hugo Fair
28th May 2023 11:37

"Given so many who are leaving QBDT are not switching to QBO, Intuit will lose those customers completely. I assume Intuit factored that into their decision."

You'd think that (as did I), but from generally bitter experience over the last 10 years:
1. You may not be surprised at how apparently over-optimistic the vendor can be about their ability to retain/migrate a bigger chunk of that revenue than you or I would forecast;
2. I suspect you'd be flabbergasted at how many 'dissatisfied clients' eventually prove amenable to the blandishments & threats of the vendor (even paying extra for migration when told it's their fault for 'leaving it so late')!

Ultimately these decisions aren't based on anything to do with satisfaction of clients or quality of software ... the only metric being considered is share price (and planned exit valuation), which is shored up via the reduction in product lines and accompanying growth (however slight) in client numbers - irrespective of the kind of missed opportunity to which you allude.

It's sad/crazy, but ...

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By Astercube
29th May 2023 08:46

seek alternative solutions????

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By Russell Lyons
08th Jun 2023 09:57

We have used the Desktop Version since the late 90's. We have therefor migrated to On-Line. The result is a complete mess that is taking us days to sort out. The most worrying aspect has been that our VAT was incorrect and we were told this was an HMRC issue - it was not, and the QB Support used an Adjustment function to change the VAT balance to what it should have been - as shown on the Desk Top version. This is truly dreadful - especially as we will be unable to access the Desk Top system after 30th June.

Yet Quickbooks know that their migration software is defective. I do not understand why they will not extend the 30th June deadline and correct the Data Migration Software so that it works.

The Migration has so far cost £ 3000 and rising. We will have to enter transactions in the DeskTop version until 30th June, and then migrate to Zero.

Thanks (1)
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By Russell Lyons
08th Jun 2023 09:57

We have used the Desktop Version since the late 90's. We have therefor migrated to On-Line. The result is a complete mess that is taking us days to sort out. The most worrying aspect has been that our VAT was incorrect and we were told this was an HMRC issue - it was not, and the QB Support used an Adjustment function to change the VAT balance to what it should have been - as shown on the Desk Top version. This is truly dreadful - especially as we will be unable to access the Desk Top system after 30th June.

Yet Quickbooks know that their migration software is defective. I do not understand why they will not extend the 30th June deadline and correct the Data Migration Software so that it works.

The Migration has so far cost £ 3000 and rising. We will have to enter transactions in the DeskTop version until 30th June, and then migrate to Zero.

Thanks (1)
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By colinb
22nd Jun 2023 10:05

Hi All
I have discovered a possible issue should any HMRC inspection take place. Having gone paperless all our supplier invoices are attached to the transactions within Desktop. Both the migration tool and the function for reviewing desktop data via the download are unable to take the attachments.

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