Sheesh, I just got used to Windows 7, and now they are coming out with Windows 8? Now we have to worry about QuickBooks being compatible with ANOTHER operating system? I got hold of a “Consumer Preview” copy of Windows 8 and I’m trying it out with QuickBooks – let’s see how it works!
Update 11/27/2012: See my article on QuickBooks 2013 and Windows 8 for the latest info on how to get the PDF drivers to work on QuickBooks 2013 through QuickBooks 2011 on Windows 8.
I use Windows 7 every day now, on my main office computer. I still have a Vista system in my office, I still have Windows XP on my laptop. I have lot’s of customers on all of these different versions. When Windows 7 came out I remember the pain very well – what version of QuickBooks is supported (none, at first), how about Internet Explorer compatibility (took some time), and then there are all my add-on products (not to mention flavors of Microsoft Office!).
It was easier to just say “don’t use Windows 7 yet” to people, but darn it, many people didn’t pay attention to me! So we painfully worked out all of the issues with Windows 7 and QuickBooks, and eventually Intuit got things working for us. It involved some time and pain.
I’d been hearing about Windows 8 lately but not paying a lot of attention. Then yesterday I got the notice about the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. Oh no, not again!
So I downloaded it, installed it, installed QuickBooks, installed an add-on product, and took a quick look at what we might be running into. This is NOT an exhaustive test, it is just a quick peek. And, of course, this is a “beta copy” or “preview” version of the operating system, and things could very well change before the “official” release (probably later this year?). Take this is as a preview.
Installing Windows 8
First off a warning – DON’T DO THIS ON YOUR OFFICE COMPUTER. This is a preview, there is no guarantee that it will work. Don’t move your primary computer to Windows 8! Even if it works, you’ll waste a lot of time getting used to the new interface.
I don’t have too many extra computers laying around unused (at least, not any that are working) so I installed this on a “virtual machine” using VMWare Workstation – my absolute most essential tool for testing. Note that I’m using VMWare Workstation 8, the most recent release. I tried it with VMWare version 7 but that didn’t work too well.
I tried booting up a Windows 7 virtual machine and doing an “upgrade” in place, but when you get to the point where you have to reboot the computer, it fails. That is a common complaint about Windows 8 and virtual machines at this time. A new variation of the “blue screen of death”, but they made it a bit cuter with an emoticon:
So I created a brand new virtual machine with NO operating system installed, and made it boot from the disk image (iso file) that I had. Sorry if that is too technical, if you want more details I can provide that later. THIS time, when the system reboots as a part of the installation, IT WORKED!
I’ll skip most of the setup screens – they are very simple to follow – but note that when you get to the “sign in” screen you are allowed to sign in with a Microsoft account. If you have used any of the Microsoft Live programs or Office 365, you probably have a Microsoft account. I used that, and it was a mistake (at least for me).
The problem is, this links your PC to your Microsoft account. There may be some REALLY good reasons to do that, but maybe not with a “Customer Preview”. And, my password for my online account is much more complex than what I use on my desktop. So it has been a hassle to log in each time (until later on when I learned how to change this to a “local” account, but that is another story). I would suggest going straight to a “local” login instead.
So, finally, I get to the main screen. VERY DIFFERENT!
This is the “Metro” user interface – tiles. You can drag them around to rearrange them using your mouse – if you have a touch enabled device you just use your fingertip. Without reading anything about how to use this (“Documentation? Who reads the ___ documentation?”) it can be confusing. I’m not going to go into all the fun I had in trying to find things here (no start button?), I don’t want to show you how confused I was at first. I’m still figuring it out.
What About QuickBooks?
So, this is about getting QuickBooks to run, not a diatribe about user interfaces. I was able to find a “normal” looking desktop to start from. What’s with the fish? Well, this is a “beta” test, right? Heh heh.
I added the install file for QuickBooks Enterprise 12 to the desktop and ran it. IT WORKED!
I ran the Update QuickBooks feature to bring this up to the R6 level. Oops, didn’t work! However, this might have been related to connectivity or other issues, I didn’t work on figuring out what might be going on. So I set up the latest manual patch file, and ran that. IT WORKED! I copied a company file to the appropriate place, ran Enterprise, registered the program and opened the file. IT WORKED!
I have to say that this wasn’t what I expected. Microsoft is making huge changes in Windows 8, but they seem to have done a very good job on “backwards compatibility”.
Then I tried to install some third-party add-ons. I did run into some problems, mostly having to do with the proper versions of the .NET framework not being there. Some of the installers worked very differently than they did in Windows 7, so compatibility issues aren’t totally worked out. However, once I downloaded the proper .NET versions and installed them, IT WORKED!
You can see that the desktop looks similar to what you might have in Windows 7. You can switch back to the “metro” user interface (that took me awhile to find – hint, move the mouse to the lower right corner), and you can see that there are tiles automatically added for all the programs that I installed.
What About Internet Explorer Compatibility?
This is always an issue when a new version of Internet Explorer (IE) comes out, since QuickBooks is tightly tied to IE. Is there a new version here? Of course there is.
It should be no surprise, there are problems. Here is what I get when I open the Accountant Center, which relies on Internet Explorer (you might not have realized that!). However, other places that might use a similar interface seemed to work OK, like the Report Center and the Calendar.
Those features that actually open a browser window seem to work. I haven’t tried them all, so I can’t say if this OK across the board.
SO, as you might expect, a mixed bag. Actually, I got better results than I expected. I was worried that Windows 8 might stop supporting some of the older technologies that Intuit uses to integrate with third-party add-ons. I had very few problems with anything other than with some of the Internet Explorer related issues and some small installation/update issues.
This is a pre-release of Windows 8, and we have to expect a few bumps. And, Enterprise V12 R6 isn’t specifically designed to be compatible with Windows 8. We can’t expect Intuit to release a compatible version of something that hasn’t really been officially released.
We’ll have to see if Intuit has learned from past problems to see how quickly then can update QuickBooks when Windows 8 is officially released for production use. The good news here is that it looks like they don’t have to do a lot of tweaking.
Windows 8 RTM Update – 8/23/2012
I’ve revisited this issue with the Windows 8 RTM release (probably the last test version before this goes public), still using the 2012 version of QuickBooks (Enterprise, in this case). While the screen shots of Windows 8 itself are different, I’m pretty much seeing the same results as far as QuickBooks. That is not surprising.
However, I do have some additional information based on my quick tests. Again, note that these are “clean installs” of Windows 8, not upgrades of existing systems. In the Intuit Community Forums I see a lot of discussion on the age-old QuickBooks issue of “saving to a PDF”. What I’m seeing on MY systems are:
- I have no trouble saving to a PDF on a 32 bit system.
- I have NOT been able to save to a PDF on a 64 bit system.
I’ve tried all the tricks I can think of, and I haven’t gotten anywhere on that 64 bit system.
Note also that in this particular test (with Windows 8 RTM) I haven’t yet installed Microsoft Office, which may have some impact on things.
I think that we’ll need to wait for QuickBooks 2013 for Intuit to show any interest in Windows 8 compatibility (but that is a guess, at this point).
Update for QuickBooks 2013 – 11/27/2012
See my article on QuickBooks 2013 and Windows 8 for the latest info on how to get the PDF drivers to work on QuickBooks 2013 through QuickBooks 2011 on Windows 8.