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Quicken Disses the Mac One More Time

It is well known that the Mac version of Quicken has long trailed behind the Windows version. Why this should be so is anyone’s guess. The price of Quicken 2015 for Mac is $74.99, same as Quicken Deluxe for Windows, a mid-priced version. On the basis of price alone, customers have a right to expect comparable products.

But that’s not quite how Quicken works.

Indeed, the latest version of the app actually dispenses with features that existed in previous Mac versions. You can no longer create a 12-month budget, show loan amortization, or pay bills from the app. But why? In addition, such features as multi-currency conversion that are found in the Windows versions of the app have never made it to the Mac platform.

Now Quicken has an interesting scheme, partly market driven and partly, I suspect, to reduce development costs. On a comparison page listing Quicken 2015, Quicken Essentials, and Quicken Premier for Windows (which costs $104.99), they give you the chance to Vote for the features you want added to the Mac version. All of the features for more expensive Windows edition are listed from which to select.

Sure, if Quicken adds all or most of the listed features, Mac users will save $30 for an app comparable to the high-end Windows version. But there’s no promise that any of those features will be delivered, nor when. Presumably enough Mac users would have to visit the comparison page and click or tap every single button, except that it won’t work. You only get to choose three, so choose wisely. Worse, it’s not at all clear until you start voting that such a limitation exists. That hardly allows for a fair opportunity to select all the features you want to select, though it probably helps Quicken keep the wish list small.

Of course, this isn’t the latest episode of Quicken giving the Mac short shrift.

Consider Quicken Essentials, a slimmed down version that lost a number of key features, but was, for a time, the only Intel-savvy successor to Quicken 2007. For some unknown reason, Quicken’s programmers removed loads a features — don’t get me started. Worse, when OS X Lion arrived in 2011, the “full” version, Quicken 2007, no longer worked, because Apple pulled support for Rosetta, which allowed PowerPC apps to run on Intel hardware. In passing, you’ll notice that Quicken 2007 came out about a year after Apple went to the new processors.

Finally after a long wait, Quicken released an updated version with the same features, one that did work, except that you had to pay for it yet again. Now a $14.99 upgrade fee isn’t such a bad deal, but charging for compatibility updates is never a good idea. Sure, Microsoft, Quark and other software companies have done it, but that doesn’t make it right. Why should customers be forced to compensate a company for their failure to deliver apps compatible with a new OS?

To add insult to injury, Quicken board chairman Bill Campbell served as a member of Apple’s board of directors for 17 years. He announced his resignation recently, and interviews have touted his wonderful relationship with the company and the late Steve Jobs.

All well and good, but I do wonder whether Jobs or Cook ever asked Campbell why the Mac versions of Quicken’s software almost always trailed the Windows versions in features. That was true even in situations where they cost exactly the same. Even worse, importing Quicken for Windows data wasn’t always supported. This time, according to Quicken, it will be possible to bring in data from both the Mac and Windows versions of the app.

Well that’s good to know.

I also wonder, in reading those fawning interviews with Campbell, why he isn’t being asked why Mac users must accept second best if they choose a Quicken product. How could the man continue to serve on Apple’s board yet allow the company for which he’s chairman treat Mac users in this way?

Of course, few members of the tech press would ever ask the hard questions of an important corporate executive. Perhaps getting the interview is so important in and of itself that they are afraid to lose access. True, many of these publications aren’t above simply publishing a company’s press release about a new product or service with few changes, or no changes.

I don’t think that serves this market terribly well.

Meantime, if you still want to consider the new version of Quicken, perhaps you’ll want to contact the company and express your displeasure over the situation. You might also ask why the ability to vote for new Quicken 2015 features is limited to three choices, and why, last I checked, this limitation wasn’t clearly spelled out until you started voting.

Instead, they tell you, “Your feedback is important. Help us prioritize.” If they really want your help, they should give you a clear opportunity to select all the features you want.

In any case, were I to buy a personal financial app, I would first look at other options, from publishers who care about the Mac platform, before I gave Quicken another go.