Intuit has given Quicken 2007 a fresh face that makes it easier to see where your money's going without having to click around the program. This money management tool eliminates the busy register from its prior home page and now opens to a screen with three big boxes displaying money: In, Out, and What's Left. Rather than focusing on Quicken's budgeting features, which require time to set up, Intuit intends for version 2007 to lets you view a running balance of your finances at all times. In addition, a beefed up calendar and online backup provide added convenience and security.
Quicken 2007 works with PCs running Windows 2000 and newer editions (with 128 MB of RAM recommended). On the other hand, Microsoft Money 2007 works for Windows XP only. We reviewed Quicken Premier 2007, which costs $69.99 and includes investment monitoring tools. An edition that's one step above it is the $89.99 Quicken Home & Business 2007, which tracks Schedule C expenses, offers custom invoicing, and handles accounts payable and receivables (but turn to QuickBooks to manage the ins and outs of a small business with multiple employees). You can also check out $29.99 Quicken Basic, but it lacks the electronic check storage, 401(k) and IRA tracking, as well as the assistance with tax deductions that the Deluxe version provides for $10 more. Mac users can pick the $59.99 edition (equivalent to Deluxe for PCs) for OS 10.3.9 and up.
Installation of Quicken Premier 2007 took about five minutes in our tests on a Windows XP machine. Unlike the subtle changes to Microsoft Money 2007, Quicken 2007's makeover is obvious once you open the program. We like the new, tabbed layout, which helps organize information without causing clutter; you can customize the page to display the elements you use most. The Money In, Out, and What's Left boxes feature prominently. You can click those boxes to pop up a mini window of recent income and expense details.
Quicken 2007's left-hand navigation bar offers links to Business Information, Cash Flow, an Investing Center, and Property and Debt data, as well as a snapshot of your net worth. Links along the bottom detail bills and deposits, spending pie and bar charts, and a revamped calendar. From the calendar, just click a bill to view details or to pay it. We found it motivating (or perhaps depressing) to see a running tally of our credit card debt spelled out in glaring red each day.
Intuit designed Quicken 2007 for faster setup out of the box and to let you synchronize multiple financial accounts with one click. Setup can be a snap if you've already registered for online accounts with your financial institutions; just share those logins and passwords with Quicken. Quicken 2007 lets you import data from about 4,300 large and small financial institutions--more than a tenfold increase from Quicken 2006--including banks, creditors, brokerages, and 401(k) providers. Quicken's PIN vault locks away your various passwords for connected banking and other financial accounts so that they're inaccessible outside the program.
When we upgraded to 2007 from Quicken 2006, our historical account details appeared seamlessly, and Quicken prompted us to update by retrieving the latest data online. Unfortunately, when we installed Quicken 2007 from just past midnight on another computer and with different accounts, it was unable to connect to the national bank that we use for our staple checking account. At first, we thought this would force us to turn to Microsoft Money to categorize our daily spending habits. However, we learned that our bank was performing "scheduled maintenance" at that time, and the process worked fine the next day. And as with any software that retrieves information from third-party sources online, Quicken's details are only as up to date as the data from your financial institutions, which can lag by several days depending on how your bank works. Therefore, bills that we had already paid appeared in red as overdue. Luckily, Quicken allows you to manually list your planned expenses and then check them off later when they clear digitally.
Since this review first posted, many users of Quicken 2007 have complained that it crashes frequently. Working with a Quicken file containing 15 years of data, our PC locked up when we tried accessing online investment information. Intuit acknowledged that users with automatically scheduled transactions were experiencing similar problems, and it released patches in October to remedy this. If you're using Quicken while connected to the Internet, an update message should appear to notify you of such patches. If you lack an Internet connection, you can receive replacement CDs in the mail by contacting the company's technical support.
We're pleased that Intuit now gives you the option to pay $10 per year for 100MB worth of online backup--an affordable must that can safeguard your data in case of a catastrophe. If you choose that option, Quicken reminds you to back up online every third time you use the software. Microsoft Money, by contrast, asks to back up your accounts each time you use the program, and it demands that you use a Microsoft ID to do so. At least Quicken 2007 gives you the option to install the app locally and not connect online.