Road To Expo: Business Software

It sounds like a headline from the bad old days: Big-Name Software Maker Gets Rid Of Mac Product.

But don't be fooled by the news that Intuit plans to drop MacInTax for Business from its product line. Intuit's other products -- including the rest of the MacInTax line -- are doing just fine, thank you. And the same can be said for the business and personal finance software as a whole.

Credit Apple's resurgence. With people flocking to get their hands on iMacs, iBooks and Power Mac G4s, the market for business software has never been more attractive. Companies that either abandoned the platform or shelved faltering products are returning to the Mac. And developers that stuck with Apple through the tough times continue to add new features to popular product lines.

In fact, MacInTax for Business stands out as one of the few exceptions in an otherwise growing market. The problem? "The product was being used less and less, and it was used by very few customers," Intuit spokeswoman Jennifer Roberts says.

Instead, Intuit (800/446-8848, ) will put its effort into ongoing development for the other versions of MacInTax, including MacInTax Deluxe, MacInTax Home and Business and MacInTax State. The new version of MacInTax -- updated for the latest tax year -- gets its first public showing at Macworld Expo.

The fortunes of Quicken give a more accurate picture of Intuit's commitment to the Mac platform. After nearly discontinuing the personal finance product, Intuit rolled out an updated version of Quicken Deluxe this past summer -- the first upgrade since Quicken Deluxe 98. The new version features a redesigned user interface and a feature that summarizes a users financial information. An update released online in November attempted to fix a problem some Mac users had with converting data files from previous versions. Intuit expects to put out another update well after the Expo.

While Intuit plans no big announcement at Macworld Expo, it will take orders for a software package that bundles Quicken Deluxe, MacInTax Deluxe and MacInTax State.

Quicken Deluxe isn't the only program returning to the Mac. SPSS (800/543-2185, ) announced this past fall that it will put out a Mac version of its statistical analysis software, SPSS 10.0, in 2000. SPSS hasn't updated the Mac product since version 6.1 came out in 1995. By Macworld Expo, the company might have a more concrete time for when the Mac version will ship.

Block Financial (617/428-1119, ) expects to relaunch a Mac version of its financial planning software, Net Wealth, in the spring. A new version of Home Legal Advisor will follow. Block bills it as a "significant enhancement," with new features to guide people through the creation of wills, living trusts and other legal documents.

Block will use the Macworld Expo to show off the latest version of TaxCut for the Mac. The company also plans a high Web profile, with TaxCut Online coming in mid-January. The Web-based program gives you new options for filing your returns. These include next-day refunds through Block's Electronic Refund Advance and the Refund Rewards program, which gives you a refund check in the form of a pre-paid buying card that can be used anywhere MasterCard is accepted.

AEC Software (800/346-9413, ) plans to keep up its tradition of frequent updates. Although AEC just started shipping FastTrack Schedule 6.0 last March, it will showcase version 6.04 at Macworld Expo. The update, which looks to capitalize on the features offered in the just-released Mac OS 9, will ship in the first quarter of 2000.

AEC already launched the latest version of its project management product, Details 3.0. It plans to feature Details along with FastTrack Schedule at the Expo.

MYOB (800/851-1812, ) comes to Macworld Expo having just released version 9.0 of its Accounting Plus product. Look for the company to showcase the software's new features, including multi-currency accounting, expanded inventory and the ability to e-mail or fax reports.

Like MYOB, FileMaker (800/325-2747, ) is focusing its efforts on updating its existing product line. FileMaker Pro 5 and FileMaker Server 5 have already started shipping. The company expects to begin shipping FileMaker Pro 5 Unlimited for database publishing in January. FileMaker Developer 5 will ship later in the spring.

Microsoft (425/882-8080, ) has kept mum about its business software plans. But remember: The Mac version of Office 98 is nearly two years old. And Microsoft has already released Office 2000 for the PC crowd. It's not that risky to assume an Office update for the Mac is in the works.

Go to: Macworld Expo Central
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