Microsoft responds on backwards compatibility issue with Intuit QuickBooks

Microsoft responds on backwards compatibility issue with Intuit QuickBooks

Summary: Earlier today, in my post about a backwards compatibility issue with QuickBooks 2006 (which runs on XP but, in all of its configurations, not Windows Vista), I closed the post with a promise to update my blog if Microsoft issued a response to my inquiry. About an hour ago, I received the following statement from Microsoft via e-mail:Microsoft has always made and delivered on a commitment to the eco-system about making backwards compatibility a top priority.

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TOPICS: Windows
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Earlier today, in my post about a backwards compatibility issue with QuickBooks 2006 (which runs on XP but, in all of its configurations, not Windows Vista), I closed the post with a promise to update my blog if Microsoft issued a response to my inquiry. About an hour ago, I received the following statement from Microsoft via e-mail:

Microsoft has always made and delivered on a commitment to the eco-system about making backwards compatibility a top priority. With Windows Vista, Microsoft undertook the largest application compatibility effort in the history of the company to ensure the entire industry is ready for what will be the most advanced, fastest adopted and most exciting client operating system. Microsoft made significant efforts to ensure that industry partners had the resources they needed to make their applications compatible. From onsite visits with key global ISV’s to breadth compatibility readiness efforts through our "Works with Windows Vista" and "Certified for Windows Vista" programs to the upgrade advisor programs, the Windows Client team worked closely with thousands of ISV applications to ensure positive customer experiences and to support stable business/sales environments. 

The response, particularly the "Works with Windows Vista" and "Certified for Windows Vista" parts bear additional scrutiny, especially given my colleague George Ou's post on the issue. Said Ou:

More to the point, it's the intercommunication between all those applications and the fact that they're using forbidden techniques that have been banned since 2001 with Windows XP certification requirements that's the issue.  Intuit admitted to me that they declined to seek Windows XP certification for all these years and they're just now making the necessary modifications for QuickBooks 2007.  The reason this is relevant is because most software that is certified for Windows XP will automatically be compatible with Windows Vista.....The forbidden techniques in question is the fact that Intuit uses the Windows registry as a communication medium to talk to Intuit or third party add-on software and the portion of the registry being used requires full administrative privileges to write to.  Windows XP certification has banned these practices since 2001 but Intuit never sought XP certification.  The reason these programming techniques are banned is because they're dangerous and leaves the operating system wide open to attack. 

So, while Microsoft's response doesn't point the finger directly at Intuit as the culprit in this situation, it makes it clear that its certification programs -- programs that Intuit has apparently eschewed since 2001 -- are the centerpiece of its efforts to guarantee backwards compatibility. 

As a side note, my earlier post was not meant to identify either Intuit or Microsoft as culprits in the matter, but rather to make it clear that when word of such backward incompatibilities in such a popular software title arises, the entire ecosystem is put on alert that other such incompatibilities could exist in with other titles. That QuickBooks hasn't been certified for compatibility with Windows is unquestionably an issue that should cause those considering upgrading to Vista to take stock of which of their Windows applications were previously certified and which were not.

Also, in a subsequent phone call (after I published my initial post), I recommended to Intuit that it stretch the time frame during which QuickBooks 2006 buyers would automatically be upgraded for free to QuickBooks 2007 to 90 or 120 days before the release of the latter (instead of 60 as it is now --- QuickBooks 2007 was released on September 25, 2006. With the 60 day grace period, anyone who purchased the '06 version on July 26th or later gets a free upgrade to the '07 version).

Even so, it's no secret that (1) most installations of new versions of Windows penetrate the market through new system purchases with the OS preinstalled and (2) except for early adopters and enthusiasts, many people and businesses wait to upgrade to the new version of Windows until some unofficial time period elapses (often when the first Service Pack ships). This practice doesn't necessarily reflect poorly on Microsoft. It just reflects on the conservative nature of many of its customers and generally speaking, there aren't any major penalties for such conservativeness.  Regardless of whether the application software in question is certified or uncertified, when a popular title like Intuit's QuickBooks surfaces backwards incompatibilities as it did, it just reinforces that conservative approach to upgrading. Like or not, this doesn't work in favor of Microsoft or its hardware partners who are looking to capitalize on better-than-usual early adoption of a new operating system.

Topic: Windows

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  • Intuit Compatibility

    David, Intuit has been a quirky pain in the ass program for all the time I've used it. Intuit just doesn't care much if you like their stuff or not. This compatibiliy issue since 2001 surprises me not.

    Having said that, it's the most economical, full featured, easiest to use accounting software you can use to run your business.

    It's a real love/hate relationship.
    Joe Donovan
    • Love/Hate Relationships

      Intuit is acting a lot like Microsoft. Both of them the 800 lb Gorillas in their respective markets. Both of them following the IBM lead of many years ago. I wonder if an economist-anthropologist can work a thesis out of that?
      Xwindowsjunkie
      • The difference

        Intuit is complaining about it.

        Microsoft wouldn't. They would look at it as a business opportunity.

        My QuickBooks purchasing has always been on a three year cycle. Because I last purchased the 2005 version I wasn't planning to purchase until 2008.

        Of course I did migrate to Linux in 2006 so I was planning on getting MyBooks for Linux instead. So it won't affecting me.

        Many of my clients who were following my 3 year cycle are stuck though.
        slim-01
    • You do see that in everything you said you could substitute Microsoft

      for Intuit.
      slim-01
      • You Do See That Your Comment Was Irrelevant

        The problem here is clearly one of Intuit's making. They've had over 5 years in which to take action and could have prevented the current problem.

        I'm no particular fan of Microsoft but messages such as yours have no relevance to the issue at hand. They simply serve to satisfy your desire to bash Microsoft at any opportunity, pertinence be damned. Posters of such tripe deserve to be condemned for their behaviour.

        TBearr
        TBearr
        • So the original Poster wasn't bashing?

          You have a double standard. OK for MS not OK for Intuit.

          If I bash Microsoft at every turn then you support them at every turn.

          I'd rather be a fanboy than a hypocrite.

          Your post was just as irrevelant as mine.

          Then you lie about not being a Microsoft fanboy.
          slim-01
          • Don't Forget To Turn Out The Lights

            Keep on truckin', babykins. Your messages show you for just what you are. A nuisance.

            Have a nice day.

            ?? TBear ??
            TBearr
          • And your not being a nuisance for doing the same thing.

            What a double standard.

            Don't have a nice day jerk.
            slim-01
          • Now now. . .

            Aww, don't cry.

            ?? TBear ??
            TBearr
  • Compliment

    You explained the way companies have behaved concerning backward compatibility and certification and the purchase of new versions of Windows. Unprescriptively.

    Appreciated.
    Anton Philidor
  • IT is mostly a business question, not technical

    Whether vendorA is going to update softwareA version A to a new computer is mainly a business question for vendorA, not technical.

    If vendorA really want to, it can just give free upgrade to users of versionA so that (s)he can use it on a new computers. That will satisfy most users. But most vendors don't. Why? The complains about not able to use versionA is not high enough to affect their business.

    As far as I can see, software do get obsoleted. The question is whether one has a reasonable expectation for the vendor to provide free update. If I buy softwareB today, and OS C comes out tomorrow, I have a reasonable expectation to *not* have to fork out more if I choose to upgrade to OS C the day after tomorrow. My yardstick is "software support period", generously defined as the day I purchase the software + 3 years. Any OS update, upgrade or path in the support period will require the vendor to give me the appropriate upgrade for my purchase to work with the update/upgrade/whatever.
    sinleeh9
  • I too

    Appreciate that you've squared the facts here. The other story was misleading(from the title on)

    thanks.
    xuniL_z
  • What is Microsoft to do?

    "Like or not, this doesn't work in favor of Microsoft or its hardware partners who are looking to capitalize on better-than-usual early adoption of a new operating system."

    The press has been all over Microsoft for their lax security attitude. An attutide primarily driven by the need for backwards compatibility. Now that they're addressing security they're being faulted for not being sufficiently backwards compatible. Pick a side and stick with it.

    As for being backwards compatible I suspect merely disabling UAC in Vista will be sufficient enough to permit QB 2006 to work correctly.
    ye
    • Exactly

      Yet another example of no matter what Microsoft does, it is wrong. For years there have been calls for MS to in effect break backwad compatibility in order to improve security. Now that it does, it is in the wrong for breaking poorly-designed applications.

      "... suspect merely disabling UAC in Vista will be sufficient enough to permit QB 2006 to work correctly."

      Which, of course, greatly reduces the improved security of Vista - necessary because one application refused to do things the right way.

      Carl Rapson
      rapson
      • True, but...

        > "... suspect merely disabling UAC in Vista will be sufficient
        > enough to permit QB 2006 to work correctly."

        "Which, of course, greatly reduces the improved security of Vista - necessary because one application refused to do things the right way."

        I suspect that people who are unwilling to upgrade to QB2007 are in no rush to upgrade to Vista so it's probably a moot point. But for those who do upgrade to Vista and not QB2007 what is really lost? The only other option is to run it under XP as Administrator which is the same thing. So users may as well take advantage of Vista's other security enhancements.
        ye
        • You're right

          It's just a shame that users may be forced into such an arrangement, not because of Microsoft but because of a third-party application. And yet MS still gets the blame.

          Carl Rapson
          rapson
        • Intuit is worse than MS

          I suspect Intuit is happy about this. This is the same company that forced me to upgrade Quicken, because they disabled auto-downloads of credit card and bank statements. There was no reason for this other than to force an upgrade, and unlike more recent versions, these older versions of quicken had nothing in the Eula that limited the time we could download these items.

          Personally, I think Intuit is worse than MS. MS are hardly saints, but they've never gone out of their way to stick it to me (YMMV).
          notsofast
          • Quicken did that?!

            "I suspect Intuit is happy about this. This is the same company that forced me to upgrade Quicken, because they disabled auto-downloads of credit card and bank statements."

            I've used MS Money for years and have never had them do such a thing. I used Quicken before that but switched to give Money a try. I've never looked back.

            Besides, this whole issue is because Intuit FAILED to follow the rules for compatibility!! So, we BLAME Microsoft?? That's like blaming the victum of a criminal's attack. According to this thinking, it's the victum's fault when they get rapped or murdered!? Makes absolutely no sense to me. What's wrong with human thinking these days?!

            Intuit does not make the OS, so they certainly should care enough about their customers to offer a product that works. If they don't other vendors can take their place, such as Microsoft did for me with MS Money!
            mustang_z
  • What is MS to do?

    How about testing their own essential apps before the release of Vista. I'm still in the early days of thorough testing on Vista. No show stoppers but MS apps that don't work or don't work properly include 2003 Server Admin Tools (only work with a hack or if you turn off UAC's), ISA 2006 Server Manager (limited use - it works but you can't see the Firewall Policies), Exchange 2003 System Manager (doesn't work at all and it appears MS don't intend to make it work).

    That's just in the first few days of production testing - how many such issues will turn up is still unknown. I expect to have issues with 3rd party apps but not with their own.

    As for UAC's Microsoft were a party to the original drawing up of the concept of running at least privilege yet they have taken year's longer than anyone else to implement it and seem to have come up with the most irritating and intrusive implementation of it.
    wilko
    • I don't think Microsoft is blameless when...

      ...it comes to some of their applications. They do quite a few things that don't make sense.

      "As for UAC's Microsoft were a party to the original drawing up of the concept of running at least privilege yet they have taken year's longer than anyone else to implement it and seem to have come up with the most irritating and intrusive implementation of it."

      For exactly these reasons. It's not as if Microsoft didn't know about UAC. It's that they knew implementing it by default would cause problems. And it has. And now they're being faulted for it. Damned if they do and damned if they don't.
      ye