Bits & P.C.s: Keep that CD!
By By Richard Heller
Every year thousands of people prepare their income taxes using a program from Intuit, the same people that produce Quicken and Quickbooks. Their Turbo Tax program is easy to use and inexpensive, and considering the number of copies sold each year, it must be accurate. Seeing that this is July, why even talk about it?
Well, it appears that there is a built-in gotcha in the program. Unless you have the version of the program installed on your computer that was used to produce the tax return for the year for which the return was prepared, the user is unable to view or print a copy of the return. That is, if you are asked to produce a copy of your return for 1998 you will need to have the 1998, version of the program installed; the program for 2001 will not read it.
This may mean a real problem if you have purchased a new computer or thrown the old programs away because you never thought that you would need them. You arent entirely out of luck; Intuit will sell you old versions of the program. They claim that due to the changes in the tax laws each year it is not possible to read anything other than the current year. It does not appear that it would be that difficult to include a viewer/print routine that would allow you to access the old returns, but you cant make money on that.
Intuit also has another money making scheme. Lets say that you are using Quickbooks to do your accounting and you have just bought a shiny new computer. You buy the upgrade to Quickbooks each year for the $250 or so that they charge, and you go to install the upgrade on the new computer. The problem here is that the program will not install unless the original program is installed on the computer or you have the original (not an upgrade) version of program CD. If you dont have this, Intuit will be more than happy to assist you in installing the program, that is, if you are willing to purchase a service agreement for $300. Lets see, $250 for the upgrade plus $300 for the agreement equals $550, which is more than the cost of going out and purchasing the full version of the program.
The moral of the story is to be sure to keep the original program CDs for any program you have purchased an upgrade for. This is especially true for accounting programs. You may back up your data on a regular basis, but few people back up the program files. (By the way, the incidents cited above are based on actual occurrences.)
Microsoft has been busy lately issuing service updates for their programs in order to correct security problems. The latest has to do with the Windows Media Player, hackers can exploit a bug that enables them to run programs on your computer. Check the Microsoft site (http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/) to download the latest updates.
Richard Heller is an independent computer specialist who specializes in repairs, installation, upgrades, technical support, Internet sharing, data recovery and diagnostics. If you have any computer or service-related questions, please send them to The Rock River Times or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.