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Is Quickbooks Desktop Being Discontinued? The Future Of Desktop Accounting Software

Is Quickbooks Desktop Being Discontinued? The Future Of Desktop Accounting Software


Small business owners everywhere have come to rely on QuickBooks Desktop for their accounting and bookkeeping needs. The robust desktop software has long been a staple for tracking finances, managing invoices, processing payroll, and much more. However, recent changes at Intuit, the makers of QuickBooks, have called the future of the Desktop software into question. Rumors have been swirling that Intuit may discontinue QuickBooks Desktop in favor of their cloud-based QuickBooks Online product. But are these rumors true? Should QuickBooks Desktop users be worried? 


In this comprehensive guide, we’ll examine the evidence, address the key questions around the potential discontinuation of QuickBooks Desktop, and look at what the future may hold for this popular accounting platform.


The Case For Discontinuing Quickbooks Desktop


First, let’s look at the reasons why Intuit might want to sunset QuickBooks Desktop and shift focus entirely to QuickBooks Online.


  1. Cloud is the future. More and more software is moving to the cloud. QuickBooks Online allows for anytime, anywhere access to your financial data. It also allows for seamless integration with other cloud-based apps. Intuit sees the writing on the wall and wants to focus energy on their cloud product.
  2. Lower costs. Maintaining desktop software and cloud software is expensive for Intuit. Eliminating the desktop version would streamline operations and allow more resources to be allocated to improving QuickBooks Online.
  3. Recurring revenue. QuickBooks Desktop is purchased once with a one-time fee. QuickBooks Online generates recurring monthly revenue through subscriptions. This predictable revenue stream is more valuable for a SaaS company like Intuit.
  4. User transition. Many QuickBooks Desktop users have already made the switch to QuickBooks Online. And more make the transition every year as cloud technology improves. Intuit may feel the timing is right to complete the transition.


These reasons paint a compelling case for why Intuit would want to discontinue Desktop. However, transitioning millions of users to a new platform is never straightforward. Next, let’s look at the reasons why Intuit may want to keep QuickBooks Desktop around.


The Case For Keeping Quickbooks Desktop


  1. Huge installed base. There are millions of small businesses still using QuickBooks Desktop for their accounting. While the Online user base grows every year, the sheer number of Desktop users cannot be ignored.
  2. User loyalty. For many small businesses, QuickBooks Desktop is their financial backbone. Users are heavily invested in the software and may be resistant to changing platforms. Intuit will need to be cautious to avoid alienating their loyal Desktop user base.
  3. Offline access. One of the major appeals of Desktop is it allows for offline access and does not rely on an internet connection. Many businesses prefer having local access to their financial data at all times.
  4. Higher prices. QuickBooks Desktop is generally more expensive than Online. Discontinuing a revenue-generating product is always a tough call for a public company like Intuit.
  5. Integration issues. While QuickBooks Online offers integration with many cloud apps, the depth of integration is often better with Desktop. Those with complex workflows may find transitioning to Online difficult.


Given these benefits of keeping Desktop, Intuit is likely proceeding with caution. While the long-term trend is toward the cloud, they know they need to maintain Desktop as long as there is substantial demand.


Signs Pointing To The Discontinuation Of Quickbooks Desktop


Okay, so the case for and against discontinuing QuickBooks Desktop is pretty compelling on both sides. But what evidence do we actually have that Intuit may be sunsetting the desktop software? Let’s look at the key signs:


  1. Executive comments. Intuit’s CEO Sasan Goodarzi has made comments about QuickBooks Online being the “future of QuickBooks” and the company’s priority product. This casts doubt on Desktop’s long-term viability.
  2. Lack of innovation. Recent updates to QuickBooks Desktop have been minor compared to the rapid pace of innovation on the Online product. The lack of significant new features suggests reduced investment.
  3. TurboTax precedent. When Intuit discontinued their desktop tax software TurboTax in favor of TurboTax Online, it set a precedent that they could do the same with QuickBooks.
  4. Sales tactics. Reportedly Intuit sales reps are steering new customers exclusively to QuickBooks Online and not selling the desktop software. This implies a phase out may be in progress.
  5. Version numbering. The year was removed from QuickBooks Desktop’s version number starting with the 2020 release. This could signify the software is in maintenance mode with no major new versions planned.

While concerning, none of these signs provide definitive proof that the end is near for QuickBooks Desktop. But they do suggest it may be in Intuit’s crosshairs and that users should start preparing for a possible transition.


What Will Happen If Quickbooks Desktop Is Discontinued?


If Intuit does pull the plug on QuickBooks Desktop, what can customers expect? Here’s a likely scenario:


  1. Announcement date. Intuit will first announce an “end-of-life” date likely at least 1 year in the future to give users time to prepare.
  2. Transition incentives. To encourage users to switch to QuickBooks Online, Intuit will likely offer discounted subscription rates for desktop users.
  3. Feature parity. Before the desktop software is discontinued, Intuit will try to achieve close feature parity between Desktop and Online to ease the transition.
  4. Export options. Tools will be provided to help desktop users easily export and backup their data before the discontinuation date.
  5. Support window. Basic support may still be offered for 1-2 years after discontinuation to help stranded users move to a new solution. But no new features or updates will be released.


For most desktop users, migrating to QuickBooks Online will be the recommended path forward. But for those unwilling to move to the cloud, third-party desktop accounting software could be an alternative solution to explore.


The Potential Fallout For Remaining Desktop Users


What happens to those businesses that still choose to use QuickBooks Desktop after the discontinuation date? They will face considerable risks including:


  1. Lack of support. No more technical support will be available directly from Intuit, leaving users to scour forums and lean on external consultants.
  2. Compliance problems. Without updates, the software may no longer meet changing regulatory and compliance standards like tax codes.
  3. Compatibility issues. Over time the deprecated software will no longer integrate properly with new operating systems, browsers, and other software.
  4. Feature freeze. No new features or improvements will ever be added to the desktop software. It will stagnate over time as technology evolves.
  5. Security risks. With no more security patches or updates, unresolved vulnerabilities could expose financial data to malware and hacking.
  6. Business disruption. If the unsupported software ultimately fails or causes critical issues, it could severely disrupt small business operations.


Remaining on QuickBooks Desktop will become increasingly high risk over time. Businesses may find their operations directly impacted when the product is discontinued.


Preparing For A Quickbooks Desktop Transition


Whether the discontinuation of QuickBooks Desktop happens in 2023 or further in the future, the writing seems to be on the wall. Here are proactive steps businesses can take now to prepare:


  1. Consider migrating to QuickBooks Online. Sign up for a trial, take tutorials, and evaluate if the cloud product can meet your needs.
  2. Test conversion tools. Intuit provides tools to convert and migrate Desktop data to Online. Try them out to see if any data is lost or corrupted in the process.
  3. Identify missing features. Make a list of any critical Desktop features not available in Online and determine if there are acceptable workarounds.
  4. Assess integrations. Take stock of what third-party apps integrate with your Desktop software and whether they also integrate with Online.
  5. Train employees. Provide training to employees on QuickBooks Online and get their feedback on the new workflow.
  6. Consult a pro. Hire a QuickBooks ProAdvisor consultant to help plan the migration and provide training assistance.
  7. Preserve reports and data. Backup key reports and data extracts so you have access to them if needed after discontinuation.


With the right preparation, businesses can make the transition from QuickBooks Desktop to Online smoothly and on their own terms. The key is avoiding procrastination and having a transition roadmap in place well in advance.


The Future Of Quickbooks Desktop Remains Unclear


While Intuit has not made any official announcements yet about ending support for QuickBooks Desktop, there are credible signs suggesting its days could be numbered. But it’s also clear that fully transitioning millions of loyal Desktop users to an entirely cloud-based platform will be an enormous challenge. QuickBooks Online may be the future, but robust desktop software likely still has an important role to play in the small business accounting landscape for years to come. At a minimum, expect Intuit to tread carefully before sunsetting a product as popular as QuickBooks Desktop.


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