We saw this trend in QuickBooks 2007, which added the ability to upload inventory information to Google Base, thereby increasing your online visibility. Version 2008's new WebListings feature expands on this slightly by automatically uploading your business information to top online directories, including Google Maps, Yahoo Local, Yellow Pages.com, and SuperPages.com. QuickBooks may not be a full-fledged e-commerce tool just yet, but it's moving in that direction.
In addition, QuickBooks now offers tighter integration with Google Maps. Let's say you're working in QuickBooks' Customer Center screen and want to visit a client. In the Customer Information window under the client's address are two links: Map and Directions. Click the first and a pop-up window displays a Google Map of the client's location; click the second and the window shows a map with directions from your business location. (You can enter a different starting address, or get reverse directions as well.)
Perhaps more beneficial to longtime users is QuickBooks' improved integration with popular e-mail clients such as Outlook, Outlook Express, and Windows Mail. Whereas QuickBooks previously provided a clunky e-mail applet for sending invoices, sales receipts, and other forms directly from the program, the new version takes the more efficient approach of utilizing your PC's default mail app. To e-mail a QuickBooks invoice via Outlook, for instance, you click Customer Center/Invoices, choose a customer's name, then press Send in the Create Invoices window. Outlook then launches with the customer's address in the "To:" field, the invoice attached as a PDF file, and a form letter (which you can customize) in the text window gently urging the client to pay up.
Small business owners--even experienced QuickBooks users--typically use an accountant come tax time. Version 2008 makes it easier to safely send your company records to an accountant, provided he or she uses QuickBooks as well.
You can upload your password-protected company file to an Intuit secure server, making it available for up to 14 days for your accountant to download. Your accountant automatically receives an e-mail with a link to retrieve the file, although you'll have to send the password separately, either via a phone call or separate e-mail. This approach seems a bit clumsy, but it's probably safer than inserting the password in the notification e-mail.
Service and support
Luckily, QuickBooks' Help file is now easier to use. Rather than popping up over the main screen, it appears as a right-side column that won't block what you're working on. (No more jumping back and forth between open windows either.) And Help has been reorganized to better address the task at hand. If, for instance, you're unsure what to do in the Select Item Receipt window, just click Help. The first topics displayed in the Help window explain when and how to use this feature.
QuickBooks technical support is free for the first 30 days, but it gets pricey once the grace period ends. Single support calls cost $49 per incident, although Intuit offers annual plans as well.