Windows vs Mac Unification PLEASE!

Quicken for Windows and Mac Unification! PLEASE!
In my tax preparation business I have many clients on Quicken for Windows. This is super convenient at tax time that they can give me their Q data which I open and print the required reports.
Clients on Mac I just can't recommend they use Q because I can't even open their Q Mac data on my Q Windows program.
For Mac only users, I recommend MoneyDance - MoneyDance Program Interface AND the Data File are Identical in both W and Mac. A MD client can give me their MD Mac data file and I can open it! on my MD Windows program. Just Oh Wow!

But still, I'd much rather that Quicken be rewritten and Unified so that the Mac and Windows Q Data File are identical in all respects and can be read directly on either platform and NOT require conversion of any kind.

Please and thank you


  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    @Larry the Tax Guy First, it's likely that your post will be deleted or edited by one of the Quicken moderators. This website is their sandbox, and you're recommending people not use their product and use a competitor, so they will probably censor your comment. ;)

    Second, it's always possible, but it's highly unlikely that Quicken Mac and Windows will be re-written to have the same features and use an interchangeable data file. As you're likely aware, the original Quicken for Mac reached a dead end in 2007 due to major changes in the Mac operating system and the retirement of many features which were integral to the program. At that time, the then-Intuit programmers had the option to try to make a new Quicken Mac interoperable with Quicken Windows, but they chose not to. They decided Mac users wanted a more Mac-like experience, and they tried building a new Quicken experience which was more like then newly-popular Mint. The first effort failed to get out of development; the second effort was the under-powered Quicken Essentials for Mac. After years of delays, a small programming team built on Quicken Essentials and brought out the new Quicken Deluxe for Mac in 2014. In the seven years since, the development team -- somewhat enlarged since Quicken became independent of Intuit -- has been working to build features which existed in the legacy Mac version and which exist in the Quicken Windows version. Even after all that time, the developers still have many features from Quicken Windows which have not yet been developed for the Mac program.

    With that background, there are three key reasons why a unified Quicken desktop program seems highly unlikely...

    (1) What we've seen from the Mac rebuild effort: Quicken is a very complex program, and building all its features from scratch is a hugely time-consuming project.

    (2) Quicken Mac and Quicken Windows are built around tools in their respective operating systems which can't easily be ported to the other platform. Quicken Mac uses an SQL database which is a core part of the Mac OS but not part of Windows. Much of the screen-drawing technology in Quicken Mac uses frameworks and libraries and tools built into macOS which are not present in Windows -- and vice versa. Even the way memory is managed on Mac and Windows is quite different and would require massive under-the-hood changes to run on both operating systems.

    (3) Even if the company decided to forge ahead to re-write both platforms to achieve a common program and data format, and suffer through the growing pains (as Mac users can attest to) of such a process, where is their return on that huge multi-year, multi-million dollar investment? Very few Quicken users actually have a need to run Quicken across both operating systems. Yes, there are folks like you who handle work for others. And some who might share bookkeeping work with a significant others on the other platform, or between a home and work computer on different platforms. But that's not the vast majority of Quicken users. Re-writing Quicken to be a cross-platform program would generate very little new income.

    (4) They already have a few tools to address some of the needs of some cross-platform users. The mobile app and web interface for the desktop Quicken products allows users to have a home base for their Quicken, but access it from another platform to enter data or check recent transactions. Coming at it from another angle, they've invested the past several years in building the all-new web-only Simplifi product, which satisfies some users (especially younger users) who want a zero-footprint, no-software, available-anywhere way to track their financial information.

    For these and other reasons, it seems unlikely you will get your wish of a unified Quicken. For you as a tax professional, if you have enough clients who use Quicken, it may make sense to get an inexpensive Mac just so you can open Quicken Mac data files and print whatever reports you need. (If you buy a $999 MacBook Air and use it for 5 years, that's just $200 per year to support your Mac-using clients.)
    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • DaverDee
    DaverDee Member ✭✭
    Thanks @jacobs for the insight.

    I get the aspects of user experience differences and certainly the business aspects as to the target audience size. I am wondering if costs could be saved with a unified data model/schema. Such cost savings could come from speed at which feature/functions on multiple platforms can be realized and the support of multiple platforms. Of course, the follow up question would be what are the costs to achieve such savings and when do I get my money back.

    Again, I know this is all moot. My curiosity is forcing my fingers to type. :wink:
  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    DaverDee said:
    I am wondering if costs could be saved with a unified data model/schema. Such cost savings could come from speed at which feature/functions on multiple platforms can be realized and the support of multiple platforms.
    At the time they started re-creating the next-generation Quicken Mac would have been the optimal time for such a strategic direction. But at that time, it seems they wanted to create a new "Mac-like" financial management tool which was not a continuation of the existing Quicken. (As it turned out, after a product that failed to get out of beta testing and the successor which was widely panned as being under-featured, users mostly wanted a modern continuation of the existing Quicken!) At that time, Quicken Windows was heavily into Microsoft's .Net framework, which was not available on the Mac. And the Unix-based Mac operating system offered lots of powerful tools for both the database and the user interface which were not available on Windows. So the products didn't converge and stayed on separate paths.

    Fast forward to today. To achieve a unified database, it would likely involve re-writing Quicken Windows to use a modern, industrial SQL database like Quicken Mac now uses. But Quicken Windows is complex software developed over three decades in many different programming languages and development environments, and doing a "database transplant" would likely be very difficult and fraught with peril of breaking things which would beed to be rebuilt. and if they went through all that, and suffered through the inevitable growing pains to get it all to work right, what would be the gain for Quicken Windows users? Just the ability to switch between Windows and Mac easily? If it would result in no added revenue, much higher costs, and only ,limited benefit, I don't see it. The only way I see that scenario ever developing would be if the Windows development team reached a point where they decided their existing database and code couldn't carry them further into the future and they needed to modernize the underpinnings to survive. Only a handful of insiders at Quicken could answer whether that's a scenario on any drawing board or not! 
    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • Chris_QPW
    Chris_QPW Member ✭✭✭✭
    Personally, I don't think there was ever a chance for "unification".

    By the history or Quicken Mac rewrite, you can see what it really takes rewrite Quicken (not even complete to this day), but rewriting Quicken Mac is only half of "unification".

    Quicken Windows uses an old embedded database that is neither currently supported, or usable on the Mac, and is also 32-bit only, and is definitely not what one would want in a new rewrite even if it was possible.

    To have unification they would not only have to rewrite Quicken Mac like they did, they would have had to rewrite Quicken Windows.  If they had attempted that Quicken would probably no longer be here.

    They started the rewrite of Quicken Mac in 2007 and "finish" a stripped down Quicken Mac Essentials in 2010.  It was so stripped down they couldn't really get the majority of the Quicken Mac users to switch to it.  And what happened to the Quicken Mac revenue?  It was basically nothing until Quicken Mac 2015 (I think that was the year) finally had enough features that they felt they could force the issue and start getting an income stream from it.

    If Quicken Windows had gone through the same process Quicken wouldn't have generated an income stream either, and most likely would have killed of Quicken completely.  It was the fact that Quicken Windows was still making money that they continued working (on and off) on Quicken Mac, and finally they sold Quicken off.

    BTW Quicken Mac 2007 the last version before the rewrite was about equivalent with Quicken Windows Deluxe.  So, imagine what replacing all the features in Premier, Home & Business, and Rental property would have taken.
    This is my website:
  • bates-d
    bates-d Member ✭✭
    For all of the reasons @jacobs mentioned, I wouldn’t hold my breath for any kind of Mac/Windows unification. He’s right on the money. As fantastic as that would be, with the modern day differences between the Mac and Windows platforms, it would be an almost impossible task. However, perhaps investing some engineering resources to make converting between the Windows and Mac versions a little easier would be doable. Import/Export? Some sort of intermediate file? Something else? Not sure of the form it would take (there are a lot of variables here), but only the engineers over there know what is possible, and how much energy it would take. It would certainly be worthwhile, in my mind.
  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    @bates-d  I agree that it would be worth Quicken devoting some effort to improving to file migration in both directions. But my guess is the work is not quick or trivial, and it probably isn't high on Quicken management's list of needs for the products.

    Going from Quicken Windows to Quicken Mac is fundamentally workable today, but a lot gets ignored — reports, budgets, and attachments, to name three. I imagine it would take a lot of work to make things like reports and budgets translate from QWin to Mac. For instance, Mac doesn't have all the same report types that QWin does, so translating them would be problematic.

    Going from Mac to QWin doesn't work at all. The importer in QWin was written back a decade ago when Quicken Essentials for Mac came out. Essentials didn't track investments, so the QWin importer doesn't import investments — which makes going from Mac to QWin impractical for almost all users. I don't know why the QWin developers haven't devoted some effort to fixing the import part of the program to be able to fully import all the transactions Mac exports. My guess is that they saw a clear demand for people switching from Windows to Mac, but not much demand for Mac to Windows. I most often see posts about Mac to Windows in this forum from users who switched from Windows to Mac and now want to switch back — which is not likely to be a large part of the user community, and therefore not likely to be high on the Win development team's priority list. Even if they committed to fixing the import of investment transactions, the other issues (like reports, budgets, and attachments) would also need to be addressed by developers on both teams to generate the proper exports and imports.

    I think it would be wise of senior management to take a look at all the issues involved in moving in each direction, and to invest some time in the low-hanging fruit. For instance, making QWin able to import the investment transactions which Mac already exports would probably not be a huge project. Budgets are already somewhat interoperable, because both Mac and QWin budgets work with the unified Quicken Cloud web interface and mobile app — so it seems likely that exporting and importing budgets might not be a huge project. But exporting and importing reports might be a big project which proves not to be worth the time investment it would take. 
    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • bates-d
    bates-d Member ✭✭
    @jacobs - in many ways, Quicken is beginning to remind me of a program that I spent 30 years using - the professional editing software Avid. Avid Media Composer was also cross-platform between Mac and Windows, but the developers accomplished that much differently; they built the exact same binary for both Mac and Windows from some sort of intermediate development environment. It meant that the program wasn't able to take advantage of specific features in either the Windows or Mac platforms, and some of the UI was odd-looking, but that was the price paid for having the *exact* same program on two vastly different platforms. Different strokes for different folks.

    Of course, I'm not suggesting that Quicken take that route. I think they're doing the right thing by trying to develop the program in the Mac environment, and doing their best to have feature parity between the Mac and Windows versions. It's just going to take some time. I just hope that they don't dumb the program down too much. It's important to give Quicken users some more advanced tools to use when things go wrong.

    The one thing that does strike me as a parallel between Quicken and Avid is it both programs can be used by people all day, every day. And for those folks, it's pretty easy to run into what we might call "edge cases". Things that seem pretty random and niche, but really aren't. And, just like Avid, solving a lot of the edge cases involve getting all kinds of data in and out of the program. Whether that's getting data back and forth to Windows, getting backed-up data properly restored, or just getting some CSV data from your bank into a Quicken account. It might seem like something that happens infrequently, but it's hugely important.

    So my advice for the Quicken team, as they try to achieve parity between the Windows and Mac versions of their software, is to pay attention to data manipulation both in and out of the program. Please build in tools for as many types of data as possible. It will only benefit Quicken and vastly help its users.
  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    @bates-d One of the programs I used for decades was a database program: FileMaker Pro. It was developed by a small company which was acquired by Apple, but pretty early on, they made it a cross-platform product which allowed the same database files to be used by Mac and Windows users. So it can definitely be done, even for a database-driven product. But it had to be baked in early, and when the product was young and didn't have decades of features added which would make starting over difficult or impossible, as I think is the case with Quicken.

    As I wrote above, I agree with you that it would help some users if Quicken created better tools for migrating from one platform to the other. But I don't see them putting a lot into it because it's generally a one-and-done migration, and there's not much ROI on building much better tools for this process. 

    If I had to take a long-range guess, I'd say that Simplifi is where Quicken sees the future of the company. They have pledged that they have no intention of getting rid of desktop-based Quicken, and I believe that's the case now. But clearly, a cloud-based product with no software to ship or install or update is cross-platform from the start and seems to lie where the future of personal computing lies. And cloud-based zero-footprint software is what younger people want and expect; this Simplifi. Ten years from now, how much of what we store locally now will still be based on desktop computers? Over the past decade, we've seen more of email, photos, and music move from desktops to the cloud. We watched as hard drives got larger and cheaper year after year — and then largely get replaced by smaller solid state drives as more data moved to the cloud. Macs and Windows PCs aren't going to disappear anytime soon, but if you look forward twenty years, is it likely that hard-drive based desktop computers will still be front and center in people's lives? I would guess not. Prognosticating the future of personal computing is way above my pay grade, but I think I can see the general direction we're headed -- right back to where I started with computers in the early 1970s, with a local terminal and all the computing power and data storage in the 'cloud'! ;)
    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • bates-d
    bates-d Member ✭✭
    @jacobs You’re probably right. The next generation doesn’t seem to mind putting all of their financial data online nearly as much as I do. An online service would make cross platform issues much less problematic. <Sigh>
  • Chris_QPW
    Chris_QPW Member ✭✭✭✭
    bates-d said:
    @jacobs You’re probably right. The next generation doesn’t seem to mind putting all of their financial data online nearly as much as I do. An online service would make cross platform issues much less problematic. <Sigh>
    It seems to me that the "older generations" don't seem to mind this either, or maybe more correctly stated don't understand what they are requesting/has already been implemented.

    Take a look at the requests for Mobile/Web and you will see basically requests to make it have all the features that they Desktop version has.  It isn't going to happen, but one thing is certainly clear is that every feature you put there requires more data to be stored on the servers.

    But it doesn't stop there.  For the longest time it has been stated Quicken Connect in Quicken Mac is the same as Express Web Connect in Quicken Windows.  In the past that was only "vaguely" true.

    Quicken Essentials Mac's "Quicken Connect" seems to have been a "Mint port" of how to do this kind of downloading.  I remember many years ago when Quicken Mac changed over this system, and part of that was syncing much more data to the servers.  It was reported that this was the only way they could really migrate the system over.  It was mostly hidden, but some people noticed certain things that indicated that in fact some of their data was now being synced when it wasn't in the past.

    Before the beginning of this year Express Web Connect in Quicken Windows was a different process.
    At the start of this year, they started migrating Quicken Windows Express Web Connect from what they were call FDS to QCS.

    Which is described like this:
    Quicken -> Intuit servers -> Financial institution's website

    QCS (which stands for Quicken Connection Services, which is in fact sync to Quicken Cloud dataset, just like the sync for Mobile/Web):
    Quicken -> QCS -> Intuit servers -> Financial institution's website

    So, if a person uses either Quicken Connect/Express Web Connect years of transactions and attachments and such are being synced to the Quicken Cloud dataset.  Not to mention usernames and passwords.

    In Quicken Mac most of this has gone smooth enough that people hardly notice any more, but in Quicken Windows it has created lots of problems that make it more evident of what is going on in the background.
    Here is nice recent thread on just some of the problems:
    This is my website:
  • Pncboy85
    Pncboy85 Member ✭✭
    I have an Intel based MacBook Pro (2015). As we all know, Apple is arrogant and does not support hardware older than five years old. With the move to their new chip (not Intel) I suspect I can no longer use quicken for home and business o a new Mac. Quicken for PC based systems is far superior to the program written for Mac. During my last conversion, it was not only a nightmare but it would have cost me hundreds if not thousands of dollars to convert my cost basis from pc to mac. Using a virtual interface was completely unsatisfactory as well.
    I have been using Quicken since Quicken for DOS. I do not want to convert again. The alternative seems to be forcing me to purchase a pc.
    Apple stinks. If someone has a practical alternative to going pc or going to quicken for mac, I am all ears.
  • Greg_the_Geek
    Greg_the_Geek SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    Why can't you continue to run Quicken H&B in a Windows virtual machine on your Mac?
    Quicken Subscription HBRP - Windows 10
  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    edited December 2021
    First of all, your supposition that Apple has done something to make your Mac unusable for tasks like running Quicken is incorrect. Yes, Apple is constantly moving forward. And officially, they support their current operating system and the two years prior. But many, many people are using older operating systems and older hardware, and there is no problem.

    I sometimes run Quicken on a 2012 Mac, and have no problems doing so. The only issue is operating system. If you're using macOS Mojave or later, you'll have no problem with Quicken Mac. High Sierra should also work.

    So I'm not sure why you state that Apple stinks.

    As for Quicken, you state that Quicken Mac is inferior to Quicken Windows. While that's true to some extent, what's missing in Quicken Mac affects people differently. Many thousands of Quicken Windows users have happily converted to Quicken Mac and not looked back. Some Quicken Windows users have switched to Quicken Mac and, although they don't find it as capable as Quicken Windows, find it is good enough for their needs. And some Quicken Windows users find an issue with Quicken Mac which is a showstopper, and they continue to run Quicken Windows.

    Many people run virtual machine software so they can run Windows and Quicken Windows on their Mac. Most find this works fine. There's a cost for the software,  but operationally it should not be a problem. There are a variety of software solutions out there, including Crossover, Parallels, and Fusion. (I'm not sure if this is what you refer to above as a virtual interface, or if you tried running screen-sharing software.)

    I don't know how long ago you tried converting your Quicken Windows data to Quicken Mac, and I'm not understanding your statement about it costing you thousands of dollars to convert your cost basis from Windows to Mac. If you tried it a long time ago, you might want to give it another quick try as an experiment. Quicken Mac today is still far from perfect or complete, but it is markedly better than it was just a few years ago. Since you have a Mac, and there's no cost to download Quicken Mac under your current subscription, it might be worth trying it. 
    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • garysmith87
    garysmith87 Member ✭✭✭✭
    In that vein, VMWare Fusion is available for free to run a Windows based virtual machine on Intel based Macs.  

    Also, I don't know how long ago you tried Quicken Mac, but I actually prefer it over Quicken Windows now.  It is missing the Lifetime Planner and Tax Planner...but the Lifetime Planner is so outdated it's actually useless now.  

    I found a free Excel based planner I now use since it's updated tax wise quarterly...and I found a free Tax Planner via AARP (free to ALL, you don't have to be a member).  Of course, I have to manually enter all data, but the planners remember my data and I only have to update a few positions every month.  

    So, I'm slowly phasing myself away from Quicken Windows and using more Quicken Mac each day.

    That being said, if you're using the business or rental property areas of Quicken Windows, there is no comparable offering for the Mac version...and none pretty much anywhere out there.  
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