QuickBooks Premier 2007 is a minor upgrade of last year's ground-breaking QuickBooks 2006, which overhauled Intuit's best-selling small-business accounting program with an easier-to-navigate home page and a faster SQL database. This year's bookkeeping-related changes are mostly user-requested tweaks--improved forms, charts, and payroll management--and none too exciting. The big news, in fact, concerns marketing rather than accounting. The QuickBooks 2007 partnership with Google allows small businesses to boost their Internet presence by listing their name and address on Google Maps, creating ad campaigns with Google AdWords, and promoting their wares online via Google Base.
Here's what's new. QuickBooks 2007's forms designer now has a preview window that shows changes as you make them. Let's say you're designing a packing slip to include the new company logo. When you check the Bill To box in the Print column, the Bill To box appears in the preview window to the right. In previous versions, you had to print the form to see if your design changes worked. Helpful? Yes. Earthshaking? No.
You'll find similar touch-ups elsewhere in QuickBooks 2007. For example, the Chart of Accounts--used to track how much money's coming in, how much is going out, and how much you have--has been simplified to reduce common errors that occur when you classify expenses. Specifically, the number of expense options has been sliced to 30, way down from 130, and includes only those mostly commonly used. Fewer choices mean fewer misclassified expenses and fewer headaches for your accountant come tax time. QuickBooks 2007 makes it easier to manage sales taxes. Plus, the program will learn how you describe common business expenses, then automatically categorize them to spare you from manual entry.
We tested QuickBooks Premier 2007, whose flowchart-style interface is pretty much the same as its predecessor's, aside from the home page icon for the Google Marketing Tools. Premier 2007 retails for $400 and is designed for small businesses with up to 20 employees; 5 people can use it simultaneously over a local area network. It also comes in various industry-specific editions for contractors, nonprofits, and other organizations. The $200 QuickBooks Pro can serve shops with 10 or fewer employees, with access for up to 3 people over a local network. It's a powerful package, although it lacks some of Premier's high-end analytical tools. For mom-and-pop businesses, the $100 QuickBooks Simple Start provides basic invoicing, check writing, and other accounting essentials.