Quicken and Lion: Intuit Strikes (Out) Again

So…Mac OS X Lion is due out any day now. Maybe even tomorrow. And my first OS-related hassle, which I have to confront even before updating to Lion on my main Mac…will be to decide what to do about Quicken. I have used Quicken as my financial manager, for better or sometimes worse, since the 1990’s. I remain stuck at Quicken 2007 (the last version that Intuit released). Like an old married couple, we’re comfortable with each other. I put up with its flaws, only occasionally grumbling. Quicken gets the job done for me. It’s reliable. I have no desire to switch to another product at this point.

Too bad for me. Quicken 2007, or any older version, will not run under Lion. Why? Because Quicken 2007 remains a PowerPC program and thus requires Apple’s Rosetta software to run on Intel Macs. Unfortunately, Apple is not supporting Rosetta in Lion. So, after upgrading to Lion, it’s adios to my old Quicken.

There is a small window of hope. Aaron Patzer, VP/GM of Intuit’s Personal Finance Group, previously told TMO’s Dave Hamilton that “Intuit is working closely with Apple …to possibly embed specific Rosetta libraries into Quicken For Mac 2007.” Intuit will let us know by “the end of this summer” if this will actually happen or not.

I’m sorry, but I can’t wait that long to take action. I’ve known about this Rosetta business for months. I’ve procrastinated too long already. It’s time to bite the bullet. Besides, given Intuit’s poor track record regarding support for the Mac, I’m skeptical that we will ever see this vapor-product anyway. 

How does Intuit suggest I resolve my dilemma? Its primary recommendation is for me switch to Quicken Essentials for the Mac. And this is what I will probably do — hoping for the best. I’ve resisted this switch thus far because I’m anxious that, in the end, I will not be satisfied with Essentials. As Intuit itself admits, Essentials is missing some key features found in Quicken 2007 — most notably, you cannot pay bills from within Essentials. On the up side, as of version 1.5, you can at least print checks with Essentials (addressing a critical prior concern of mine).

Intuit offers two other alternatives for Quicken 2007 users. If you like to live in the clouds, you can use the company’s mint.com service. Otherwise, if you’re willing to run Windows on your Mac, you can use the full-featured Windows version of Quicken. Neither option appeals to me. It’s pretty much Essentials or a non-Intuit product.

In considering Essentials, its feature limitations are not my main concern. What makes me most anxious about moving to Essentials is that it’s a one-way street. If you decide you don’t like Essentials after trying it out for awhile, there’s no going back. Or going anywhere at all. Never mind about the Lion/Rosetta problem. Even if that did not exist, you still couldn’t get your data to go from Essentials back to Quicken 2007. Why? Because Essentials does not include QIF file export and thus does not offer a way to export your data back to Quicken 2007 — or to any other competing product (such as iBank, a popular alternative that received a 5/5 rating here at TM0).

It gets still worse. While you can export Quicken 2007 data to Essentials under Snow Leopard (I’ve already tested this out and it works fine), you can’t do the export after you’ve upgraded to Lion — because the necessary converter software won’t run under Lion! For the same reason, if you want to export you Quicken 2007 data to iBank (an iBank video tutorial shows you how), you better do it before upgrading to Lion. [Note: Be careful about moving your data to iBank; I have read a few reports (such as in a ZDNet article) that the Quicken data may get mangled.]

Bottom Line

As of now, if you update your Mac to Lion before first exporting your data from Quicken 2007, your data is toast — unless you have access to another Mac that contains Quicken and runs an older version of Mac OS X. Further, if you transfer your data to Quicken Essentials, you better hope you like it — because there’s no exit route.

Intuit’s position here is indefensible. Plain and simple.

The first Intel Macs were released in January of 2006. Intuit has had five and half years to either upgrade Quicken 2007 to a robust Intel-compatible program or come out with an entirely new program that compares favorably with the Windows version of Quicken. They have chosen to do neither.

Apple announced the forthcoming release of Mac OS X Lion in October 2010, around nine months ago. Why is Intuit apparently just now trying to figure out a solution that allows Quicken 2007 to run under Lion? Why must we wait to the “end of the summer” to find out if such a solution will even see the light of day? Why couldn’t they have had made a decision and informed us about it weeks ago? And why can’t they at least provide a converter that allows a Quicken 2007 to Essentials transfer under Lion?

Intuit has always made Mac users feel like second-class citizens — compared to how it treats Windows users. Now Intuit has gone a step further — treating Mac users with a disregard that comes close to contempt. If Intuit cares at all about maintaining their Mac user base, they sure have a strange way of showing it.