Today I fired up Quicken to enter some information, it’s an older version – from way back in, gasp, 2009.  It’s Quicken 2010 Home and Business and I think I bought it in late 2009 after Microsoft decided Money wasn’t going to continue.

Money was great for my needs but I wanted to get some new software that would be around for, hopefully a longer period of time.

Quicken has been OK for me – it seems a little slow and I probably only use a small % of the overall features but it gets the job done.  I get a little tired of the pop up windows asking me to upgrade but I accept them as a necessary evil.  Quicken/Intuit want me to buy an updated version and maybe I will at some point but not until the software stops working.  I expect that most software programs will run through a lifecycle and that if they are not patched, they’ll stop functioning properly. This could be due to other interfacing system/software changes.  Let’s say, hypothetically,  the file format of financial transactions downloaded from banks changes for whatever reason.  If I don’t patch or upgrade my software, I understand that it may fail.  I would expect a reasonable amount of time to upgrade my software and that there’d be a transition period where I or other customers could use both the old and new formats.

I get it,changes happen that’s part of the deal.  I was disappointed in Microsoft when they discontinued Money but it’s business and they decided to stop.  I’m also OK when a company stops actively supporting their software after some amount of time.  Not to pick on Microsoft, but they’re no longer supporting Money or their older operating systems.  That’s ok.  The OS’s still work, they just aren’t supported if you run in to a problem.

So, this is what I expect from my software providers.  When I read something from a company like this:

“In an ongoing effort to provide reliable high-quality products and services, Intuit periodically retires (also known as “sunsets”) older versions of Quicken, thereby discontinuing online services and live technical support for these versions. For more information, visit our Web site.” (from the helpfile in Quicken 2010 Home and Business),

I expect that active support will stop, but that I can continue using the software with no other issues other than the natural evolution of interfaces. What I DON’T expect is this –

Watch out - on April 30th, 2013 - this software loses functionality

Watch out – on April 30th, 2013 – this software loses functionality

I’m semi-ok with bullet 2 and ok with bullet 3 but the first bullet makes no sense to me.

With bullet 2, if my bill payment, stock quotes, and headlines are going through Intuit‘s servers – I can see them wanting to shut that down for older software.  Likewise with the customer service dept – the software is old so you drop support.  Granted, it’s not really THAT old but again, I can deal with them shutting off customer service.  It’s the first bullet that concerns me.

Why are they crippling the software after < 4 years?  If I’d known that they were going to take away core functionality at a time of their choosing, I would not have purchased it in the first place.  They mention sunsetting, buried in the help files, but not taking away functions.  This baffles me and I don’t see a good reason for it – they are removing functions that I licensed and I feel ripped off.  I’m hoping I can still manually download transactions from my bank and import them in to Quicken after they shut down these functions.  April 30 isn’t too far away, so I’ll be testing it out in a few months.

I would call on Intuit to be explicit on their sunsetting timelines – If food manufacturers can place a ‘use before’ date on food, surely Intuit could tell us how long we can expect to use their software.  I reached out via twitter to @quicken and @teamquicken to tell them that the practice of shutting down functions seemed “shady.”  I haven’t heard anything back but it’s late and they may not be monitoring right now.

What are your thoughts on companies disabling portions of their software and forcing you to upgrade?  Do you have other examples?

Note: The help page is already up and ready to go when April 30 rolls around.