With Quicken 2010, Intuit strives to make its flagship money management application easier to navigate and simpler to set up, thanks to spruced-up visuals and a refreshed start-up wizard. Although already a solid balance-keeper and financial assistant in previous versions, Quicken 2010 adds a few new features to visualize your monthly budget and assets.
The Quicken 2010 product family includes Quicken Starter Edition ($29.99) for tracking budgets and upcoming bills; Quicken Deluxe ($59.99), which includes tools to help you save up for a large purchase; Quicken Premier ($89.99), which helps track investments; Quicken Home and Business ($99.99); and Quicken Rental Property Management ($149.99). We evaluated Quicken Deluxe 2010.
At almost 70MB, Quicken Deluxe 2010 takes several minutes to install. Installation was painless up to the point when the software junked up our desktop with four icons: the Quicken icon, plus another three unwanted shortcuts advertising a Quicken credit card and other additional services.
Quicken's core features continue doing what they've done for years: chiefly, importing your financial information to help you automatically and manually track your spending and savings. Not just a simple ledger for balancing your bank book, Quicken's additional tools also help alert you to upcoming bills and to your overall budget.
In the 2010 edition, Intuit has applied some cosmetic changes that streamline and simplify the software. One change is a sleeker setup wizard to guide you through the process of importing your financial information, adding bill reminders, and setting up budgets. This wizard is moot if you're a returning user importing years of data from past Quicken versions, but new users will have an easier time getting started with this version than in years past.
A cleaner-looking home screen greets new and returning users, summarizing your financial standing in a glance. Pared-down navigation options also make it easier to find what you need. The most active new feature in Quicken 2010 takes a stab at automatically categorizing your transactions, like assigning Safeway to the Groceries category and your doctor's visits to the Medical category, with a little help from you if there's any doubt. In implementing this feature, Quicken plays catch-up to savvier online management apps, like Mint.com--which Intuit has since snapped up and plans to integrate--and its ilk. A new infographic in Quicken also helps you avoid late fees by displaying both how much cash is left in your coffers and which upcoming bills you should brace for.
Apart from the bill reminder and the autocategorization, it's Quicken's top layer, and select tools, that see the benefit of Quicken's design changes. Scratch the surface, however, and many of the app's second-tier tools--text-heavy calculators, planners, and lists with tiny font--feel as if they haven't been updated for years. The old-school layout may not bother legacy users or those who aren't put off by blocks of texts and charts, but others who have come to expect graphic representation of their data and clean design--say, the likes of former competitor Mint.com--may be inclined to shut the window and move on rather than wade through text.