Just what we need, another version of Microsoft Windows to confuse our clients (and staff, and ourselves…). In anticipation of the upcoming release I thought I would take a look at QuickBooks and Windows 10 to see if I would have to face any major compatibility problems when the new operating system is available. Compared to prior releases of Windows I would say that I’m pleased with what I see so far, but I wouldn’t recommend that you be an early adopter.
Note that I’m doing this with a preview version of Windows 10, as the final release isn’t available yet, so you could see different results later on.
You Will Have to Deal with Windows 10 Soon!
It is easy enough to say, “I’ll wait until Windows 10 has been out a few months before I’ll bother with it.” That is a good idea – I don’t recommend that you be an “early adopter” of any new Microsoft release. The problem is, if you are an accounting professional you know that as soon as it is available you will have clients come to you who are using it, in spite of your recommendations. Heck, I’m already being approached by people who are using it on their business systems, even though Microsoft themselves say that you shouldn’t use the preview versions in a production environment.
And, this time around, Microsoft is making it really easy to get Windows 10 when it comes out. Take a look at what I’m seeing on my production system, which runs Windows 7, down in the lower right on the system tray. See the “Get Windows 10” icon? Microsoft is already starting to push information on Windows 10 out to users of Windows 7 and Windows 8.
Click on that icon and you get a “free upgrade” offer.
I know that people are going to want to click on it. “Free upgrade” is a powerful draw. What this will do is register this computer system with Microsoft, and they will start pushing out the Windows 10 system files to your computer in the near future. Once the files are all there, you’ll see another icon that will let you easily (hopefully) upgrade to Windows 10. I know I have clients who just won’t be able to resist clicking on that icon, just like they can’t resist installing the latest update to QuickBooks even though I ask them to wait.
According to information posted in the Windows Blog by Microsoft, Windows 10 will be available on July 29. Anyone who has a “genuine” version of Windows 7 or Windows 8 can get it – unless you are a corporate user with the Enterprise editions of Windows. Also note that the retail packaged versions (not upgrades) won’t be available until some later date.
How did that update icon get on my system? Why do some systems show it and not others? This feature was delivered via the Windows Update mechanism as KB 3035583, a somewhat stealthy update whose title was “Update enables additional capabilities for Windows Update notifications in Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 SP1”. No mention of Windows 10 there. Tricky…
Some people are seeing that the reservation process itself isn’t always working smoothly. It involves a script that checks to see if your system is compatible, and it can take as long as 30 minutes to complete, or longer. Microsoft warns that the process could get stuck in an infinite loop. There doesn’t seem to be any advantage to “reserving” your upgrade – you have a full year to take advantage of the free upgrade offer.
A couple of technical notes on the upgrade:
- If you are running Windows 8, and haven’t upgraded to Windows 8.1 yet, you will need to do the 8.1 upgrade first before you can install Windows 10.
- The “reservation” program does a check of your computer to see if it is compatible. See the Windows 10 specifications page for details on what is needed.
- The Windows 10 upgrade process will uninstall your anti-virus and anti-malware applications, and after the upgrade it is supposed to reinstall the latest version and restore your settings for that app. I have a lot of questions about this, so it is important that you check on this after the upgrade. There isn’t (at this moment) a definitive list of which apps are covered. Note that the reinstall will only occur if Microsoft determines that your subscription for that app is current. If it is not current then Windows Defender will be enabled instead. I have a lot of concerns over this aspect of the upgrade.
- Windows Media Center is discontinued, so if you relied on this you will have to find a substitute.
- There are a lot of concerns about Windows Update and how it will work with Windows 10. The specifications from Microsoft (at this time) on this are vague. Windows 10 Home users may not be able to control updates other than delaying when their system reboots – it doesn’t look like you will be able to “hide” any updates if you want to prevent them from installing. Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise users may be able to “delay” installation of nonsecurity fixes. Another change is that patches can be deployed at any time, rather than waiting for a specific day of the week (“Patch Tuesday”).
Testing QuickBooks and Windows 10
As I mentioned, I’m using an early evaluation copy of Windows 10 (build 10074, downloaded on June 8, 2015). Any issues that I run into might be resolved by the release date. That also means that new issues can crop up.
I’m looking at QuickBooks versions from 2012 through 2015 – I didn’t take time to work with any older versions that aren’t supported by Intuit. I know that the 2012 product has been retired, but it was there so I gave it a try. I used a 64 bit Sony laptop running Windows 7, and it already had my target versions of QuickBooks installed. I’m working with the Enterprise versions of QuickBooks.
The issues that I want to check on are:
- Does QuickBooks work at all?
- Will the QuickBooks update process work?
- Can I save forms as a PDF using the QuickBooks PDF mechanism?
- Can I reconcile an account (which saves a PDF internally) and open past reconciliations?
- Some features in QuickBooks require Internet Explorer – will those still work?
- Will QuickBooks still integrate with Microsoft Office?
- Will Intuit-provided extensions still work, such as QuickBooks Statement Writer, Loan Manager,
- Cash Flow Projector, Fixed Asset Manager and Business Planner?
- Will externally developed QBSDK add-ons work?
That is my quick list of things to check, based on past experiences with moving QuickBooks to new versions of Windows.
To start, I ran through the installation process from the Microsoft early access website. It was not a totally painless experience, but it didn’t require a lot of technical expertise. You really just had to answer a very few questions and let the installer take over your computer. The problem is that periodically I would get odd error messages saying that the computer couldn’t be updated and that the process should be started over, without any instructions about how to do that. I just muddled on, and after a few hours my system was converted. Here’s my desktop, which looks similar to what I had in Windows 7. I’ve expanded the new “start” menu. An interesting mix of Windows 7 and Windows 8 elements.
Does QuickBooks work at all?
With all versions, 2012 through 2015, I had no trouble in opening a QuickBooks company file. I’ve only been working with this for a few days so I can’t say that I’ve tried every feature, but other than a few glitches that I’ll mention below, my test versions of QuickBooks all worked just fine.
There were a few issues that only seemed to occur with QuickBooks Enterprise 2014. I haven’t tried several different company files here, so there could be some issues with the file itself, but this file was working properly on Windows 7.
Sometimes I would get interesting display problems, as you can see below. Some of the menu elements and borders would disappear, leaving different parts of QuickBooks floating about on the desktop. Refreshing the screen would usually resolve this.
The other issue was that QuickBooks Enterprise 2014 would consistently crash when I exited the program.
I didn’t see this occur with the same file on Windows 7 on this system, but I have not pursued this issue further, yet.
Will the QuickBooks update process work?
With each version of QuickBooks that I tested, I started with an older revision and then ran the QuickBooks Update process. In all cases the update process worked correctly.
Can I save forms as a PDF using the QuickBooks PDF mechanism?
Does the QuickBooks PDF mechanism continue to work? That’s been the key issue with many Windows updates in the past. Sure, you can use a PDF driver of your own to get around some of the issues, but that isn’t as convenient, and there are some functions that won’t work correctly with a PDF printer driver (such as account reconciliation).
QuickBooks 2015 through 2013 had no problems creating a PDF normally. It is interesting to note that if you save the PDF to your hard drive and then double-click on it to open it, the PDF opens in the “Edge” browser rather than using Adobe Acrobat if it was installed prior to the Windows 10 upgrade. “Edge” is the new browser introduced with Windows 10 to replace Internet Explorer.
QuickBooks 2012 didn’t like the upgrade to Windows 10, as you can see below. I haven’t spent any time in trying to resolve this, since QuickBooks 2012 is no longer officially supported by Intuit.
Can I reconcile an account (which saves a PDF internally) and open past reconciliations?
This is one of the things you can’t use a PDF printer driver to get around if there are compatibility issues with the QuickBooks PDF driver. QuickBooks stores your reconciliation reports internally as a PDF file, and when you recall prior reconciliations it uses Adobe Acrobat to display them. Fortunately, for QuickBooks 2013 to 2015 this all worked properly.
Some features in QuickBooks require Internet Explorer – will those still work?
QuickBooks is hard-coded to use Internet Explorer for some windows that it opens. These internal “browser windows” are found in several places. Windows 10 still provides Internet Explorer, and QuickBooks 2012 through 2015 works with it properly.
It is interesting, though, that some captive browser windows in QuickBooks will display with Edge, rather than Internet Explorer, as you can see below.
Will QuickBooks still integrate with Microsoft Office?
My test system has Office 2013 installed. I had no trouble with Office integration that was any different than I had on Windows 7. Here’s an Excel export of the item list.
I had problems with QuickBooks Enterprise 2012, since it doesn’t normally work with Office 2013 regardless of the version of Windows.
Will Intuit-provided extensions still work, such as QuickBooks Statement Writer, Loan Manager, Cash Flow Projector, Fixed Asset Manager and Business Planner?
For the most part I was successful using Loan Manager, Cash Flow Projector, Fixed Asset Manager and Business Planner.
In some cases you had to reboot your system after the first time you accessed the program, but that is the same behavior that you might see on Windows 7 and Windows 8.
QuickBooks Statement Writer is a problem, but that is an issue with the version of Microsoft Office, not with the version of Windows. I didn’t try the workaround to get QuickBooks Statement Writer to work with Office 2013, as I believe that Intuit is going to move away from support of QuickBooks Statement Writer (I am just speculating on that).
Will externally developed QBSDK add-ons work?
I have only run a few tests on this, but every QBSDK add-on product that I tried has worked fine with QuickBooks on Windows 10.
Will Intuit Officially Support Windows 10?
At this time Intuit hasn’t issued a public statement (that I’m aware of) about support for Windows 10. Their support staff will just direct you to their system requirements information that states what versions are supported – and Windows 10 isn’t mentioned, yet. It is hard for a developer to officially state that they are compatible since Microsoft continues to make changes to Windows 10 right up to the initial official release. In fact, I’m going to guess that serious testing of Windows 10 won’t start until the final version is in their hands. If they find that they have to make changes, it could take several months before they issue a release.
The bigger question is, if they have to make some changes, what versions of QuickBooks will they update? Will it just be the 2015 release? Will they update the 2013 and 2014 releases? Time will tell.
It Works, but Be Careful
These were only quick tests, in a simple test environment. I can’t say that QuickBooks Desktop is fully compatible, but I’m very pleased with my preliminary results. The most trouble was with the 2012 version, and that isn’t fully supported by Intuit any more. The 2014 version seems to have some issues. It isn’t my favorite release, anyways – I see a number of odd problems crop up there even on Windows 7.
It looks like, from the standpoint of QuickBooks compatibility, we shouldn’t be seeing too many new major issues. I wouldn’t recommend using QuickBooks 2012 or older versions on Windows 7 since we know that you will have some headaches.
Even though I was able to get QuickBooks to run without a lot of hassles, I recommend that you be careful and don’t rush into Windows 10 right away. Let other people test the waters first. If you have to jump in then you should make a full system-image backup first, as that is the only way you can roll back to your prior version if you find that there are problems. There are bound to be first-release issues, particularly since they are making changes to the product right up to the final release date. But, if you are an accounting advisor, you know that people are going to be coming to you who are using Windows 10 right away. So, be prepared.