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Leaving desktop software behind

Posted 5 years ago in Xero news by Ian Vacin
Posted by Ian Vacin

sunsetting imageIt’s been almost a year since I left Intuit and put on my Xero T-shirt and oh how great that year has been – beautiful online accounting software, wonderful people, incredible growth and, most importantly, amazing customers. The days of desktop accounting software are behind me (more like a sunset), and online accounting has been the dawn of bigger and brighter things.

But there are times that I am brought back to my past – a past where I spent over eight years driving a desktop vision. Fortunately this does not bleed into what I do at Xero, but I notice the differences when I talk to those that are looking to switch.

One of the things I talk about is that as a business you only use one version of Xero and you access it from anywhere. This has been particularly relevant over the past few weeks, with Intuit contacting users who are on a 3-year-old or older version of Quickbooks and telling them that online services associated with their software are being discontinued.

So anyone who has a 2010 or earlier version of Quickbooks has two choices: continue using the software but lose things like online banking, live technical support, email and online backup or upgrade to the latest version. How starkly different it is to live in the cloud, where you’re always up-to-date and you never have to choose between shelling out for an upgrade or losing critical services.

What is interesting in this example is that this “choice” is not really a choice at all. The discontinued services are critical to your business. Bank connectivity is important as it lets you know where you stand – not only at month end but every day you get up in the morning. 24/7 technical support (with people that can answer your question the first time) is necessary to ensure you are always confidently up and running.

Add the inability to collaborate, the never-ending product updates / upgrades, and the inability to manage your small business finances anytime, anywhere from any device, and again there is a clear distinction between the incumbent desktop software and Xero.

So if you find yourself being forced to choose between losing services or upgrading software, maybe it’s time to look at other options. You can make this next upgrade your last one and it is easy to switch – find out how.


Mike Block CPA
March 27, 2013 at 5.47 pm

Three cheers for Ian. His switch to Xero is helping me get many more customers switched to Xero.

Mike Block CPA
March 27, 2013 at 5.48 pm

It would be nice if author info was in the Xero latest posts email.

Gayle Buchanan
March 27, 2013 at 6.13 pm

Nice one Ian,
Great to have your experience in the Xero family and so nice to wake everyday knowing we can make a difference with SME’s around the world. They all get to do what they love more and we get to do the same.

Graeme Leo
March 27, 2013 at 7.35 pm

In fairness, would Xero choose to host and support three versions of the same software and support them?. So desktop software has it’s pain points but then you can choose to upgrade from year to year or not, rather than paying for it continuously. It really depends on what services you see as important. Quite frankly, I don’t think 100% of customers needs to have accounting available to them on every conceivable platform 24/7. The reality is that both SaaS and desktop are valid options, it is a shame to have continuous bagging of traditional software delivery. Xero is doing great, don’t need the cheer leading – just get on with what you do well.

Anton Gerner
March 27, 2013 at 9.28 pm

I don’t mind the cheer leading!

Lisa Wrigglesworth
March 28, 2013 at 1.52 am

I agree with Graeme. What Xero is doing is great but subscription pricing is not suitable for everyone therefore there will always be a sizeable market for pay once software. Intuits discontinuing approach isn’t a problem for those of us who don’t need support.

Bill McGeown
March 28, 2013 at 11.12 am

Interesting you talk about the lack of choice in upgrading with desktop based software, when with web based software like Xero you have zero choice.

You are always up-to date, yes, but you have to accept new features, upgrades and changes whether you want, need or will use them or not. This coupled with the fact that upgrades are done at the service providers choosing, with perhaps little or no warning, no way to test, no way preemptively change business rules, and no way to downgrade if a change is detrimental. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is simultaneously both excited and full of dread whenever I see the notification in my Xero inbox about an upgrade and what I will find when I get into work on a Monday morning…

There are many, many advantages to an always online web based solution like Xero, but it is not a perfect world. Like any choice of product, there are advantages and disadvantages. When choosing a product, you should be fully aware of the pitfalls associated with any product, and there are some with Xero that, by it’s nature, can’t be avoided.

March 28, 2013 at 10.34 pm

Agree with Graeme & Bill – it is not so simple.
I am a Xero user (and Saasu before that, and Quickbooks before that).

The “Shelling out for an upgrade” argument is a furphy – those users have not had to pay anything in the last 3 years, whereas with cloud software, we pay subscriptions every month, no choice whether we want the new features or not.
My cost of having a Quickbooks annual subscription vs Xero / Saasu is about the same. I certainly got far more functionality with QB than the cloud options, but the cloud options are simpler and more accessible.

But if Intuit could put their software “in the cloud” (not the faux-hosted-virtual-application model), well….

There are clear pro’s and cons to both options.

Sky Stebnicki
March 31, 2013 at 3.19 am

I agree, desktop software cannot compete for many of the reasons you mentioned above; I can’t even imagine being tethered to a single computer or device for critical services like accounting. We started our startup website – using xero as our accounting tool (not an easy task given the payment accounts we had to set up) and have never regretted it!

Drew Shoobrook a Xero bookkeeper
April 2, 2013 at 3.42 am

What you need to look at to is using the API and cloud software developers can easily create custom solutions and sell them via the internet, using cloud based technology makes it easier to make and market good ideas.

Graeme Leo
April 2, 2013 at 9.04 pm

It’s a little off subject, however a web API is not the sole preserve of communication between only web applications. Web services, for instance allows a desktop application to work perfectly well to a web API there is no requirement to use a browser or html. The objectiveness has been lost in the mantra of ‘if it isn’t a cloud application it isn’t worth having’.

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