You don’t often hear a tech exec responsible for a product say that he hates anything about it, but Intuit’s Aaron Patzer is a special case–his dislike of Quicken spurred him to found the excellent online finance site Mint. When Intuit bought Mint last year, Patzer ended being responsible for both Mint and Quicken. The new version of Quicken, Quicken 2011, is the first one to reflect his influence, and it certainly shows the influence of the more modern Mint.
Quicken’s interface, which hadn’t changed much in a very long time, now has a cleaner, Webbier look, with conveniences unaccountably missing until now, such as the ability to sort transactions by clicking on columns. Setting up a new account involves three screens (down from ten), and 12,000 banks are now supported (up from 5,000). The old Quicken categories for purchases have been scrapped in favor of the more precise ones used on Mint, which Patzer told me are 90 percent accurate.
Given that Mint is free and Quicken remains boxed software you pay for–the Premier edition is $89.99–why would anyone who wasn’t allergic to Web-based services pay for it? Patzer told me that Quicken’s investment-related features remain a lot deeper. It can do fancy math such as capital-gains calculations and stock-lot accounting, for instance. New investment features include model mutual-fund portfolios and easier rebalancing.
Quicken 2011, which is now available, is a Windows-only product: Mac users are still stuck with Quicken Essentials, a different, lesser product which doesn’t have online bill pay built in. Patzer told me that the Mac edition will retain its own look and feel, but that Intuit plans to close the gap with Windows by giving it the major features which it still lacks.