Quicken 2008 review: Quicken 2008

Other useful changes include the new navigation bar, which makes it easier to jump between Quicken's main sections, such as Cash Flow and Investing. The register now has better categorization and tagging features, which may prove helpful come tax time. You can select a transaction and either choose from a drop-down list of user-created tags, or enter a new tag. You also can view of list of expenses for a particular project, such as a kitchen remodel. In addition, tax-related transactions are now marked with a TurboTax checkmark icon in the register.

The new Quicken Bill Minder Gadget, which works only with Windows Vista, is an info box that appears in the Windows Sidebar along the right edge of the desktop. The widget pulls in critical information from the program, such as the number of overdue bills and upcoming transactions, and displays it where you can't miss it. There are two views to choose from: List or the tiny and therefore less-helpful Calendar.

Quicken 2008 can track a college savings account, known as a 529 plan. However, if you download your 529 plan information from a brokerage site, you'll most likely have to manually mark the account as tax-deferred, which is a minor annoyance.

Service and support
Quicken support is unchanged from last year. E-mail support is free, and Intuit promises to respond within a day. Chat help is also free and is available 24-7. Phone assistance is $24.95 per call. However, some support calls are free, such as if you're having problems installing the program or converting data from earlier Quicken versions.

We found Quicken support to be fast, polite, but not always accurate. Our simple e-mail query that inquired whether we could upgrade from Quicken 2007 Deluxe to Quicken 2008 Starter Edition (you can't), was answered accurately within an hour. During our chat session, however, the Intuit tech representative insisted that we needed to reinstall Quicken 2008 in a new folder to view the Bill Minder Gadget, which wouldn't appear when Vista launched. To fix the problem, however, we simply had to change a setting in Windows Sidebar.

The new My Savings Plan feature helps with long- and short-term savings goals.

Quicken 2008 is a fine choice if you're dissatisfied with the wimpy money-management tools found at most bank Web sites. Indeed, Quicken Premier offers far more features than most of us will ever use. However, if you're already using Quicken 2007, there's not enough new stuff here to warrant an upgrade. And if you're currently using Microsoft Money, another great personal finance application, there's no compelling reason to switch to Quicken 2008.

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