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.
The new Google services, which have little to do with accounting, signal Intuit's goal to turn QuickBooks into a comprehensive, small-business management tool. Granted, some of these services, such as the free business listing on Google Maps, are something a small-business owner could sign up for independently anyway. More intriguing, however, is the upcoming QuickBooks Product Listing Service, which remains in beta testing. It will allow QuickBooks users to automatically upload inventory information (such as, Tasmanian baby carriages), complete with photos and descriptions. The QuickBooks Product Listing Service then publishes this information to Google Base, which allows it to be searchable via Google. However, this isn't an e-commerce tool. While potential customers can find out via Google where your products are sold in town, they can't buy them at either the QuickBooks or the Google Web site. Microsoft Office Accounting 2007, by contrast, will allow you to manage eBay auctions within its desktop interface.
QuickBooks 2007 also includes the thorough Google Desktop search for scouring transactions and customer and vendor records. However, you can use Desktop to search QuickBooks data only from within QuickBooks, and the search respects permission levels to keep, say, an employee from inadvertently accessing the business owner's private data. Intuit has kept QuickBooks' own search engine as well.
Intuit's support is good yet pricey. You get 30 days of free support, after which assistance gets costly. For instance, a one-time support call is $49, but annual plans are available, too. Intuit promises to respond to support calls and online queries within an hour.