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Monday, August 01, 2005, 08:00 am PT (11:00 am ET)

Intuit to release Quicken 2006 with .Mac support

Intuit is preparing to release a major update to its Quicken financial software for Mac OS X that will interface with Apple Computer's .Mac internet service, AppleInsider has learned.

The annual update had been in development under the code-name "Fulcrum" and was delcared gold master around July 14th, sources with ties to the project said. Intuit is currently duplicating copies of the software on optical media, which should begin shipping to retailers later this week.

Like the current version of QuickBooks, Quicken 2006 for Mac will leverage the strengths of Mac OS X by interfacing with several Mac-only applications and services. Specifically, the software will work with both iPhoto and iCal to help users track home valuables and stay on top of important dates, sources said.

Another major feature of the release will be integration with Apple's suite of .Mac internet services. Users with a .Mac account will be able to backup or restore their Quicken data file to and from their iDisk with a few clicks of the mouse. An automated backup feature will also be present via a simple checkbox option in the application's preferences, sources added.

Mac OS X integration aside, Quicken 2006 for Mac will also sport several improvements to its online banking functionality. For instance, users will be able to create "smart" payee names (or rules) that will locate all transactions containing a specific term and group them under the shortened payee name, making registers and reports easier to read.

Quicken 2006 for Mac will also let users download transactions from all accounts at a single financial institution into a single Quicken data file — allowing spouses who may have separate customer IDs and accounts at the same bank to download both sets of accounts into Quicken. And beginning in August, sources said Intuit will be upgrading its Quicken Bill Pay service to include improved features and greater ease of use.

Other features expected in Quicken 2006 for Mac include an "Open Recent" files menu option and more flexible frequency options for scheduled transactions. Each retail copy of Quicken 2006 for Mac will include a trial version of LandWare, Inc's Pocket Quicken for Palm OS handhelds.

Online retailer Amazon.com is now accepting pre-orders for Quicken Deluxe 2006 for Mac, offering $27 off the retail price after instant savings and a $20 rebate (to $42.99). The software is expected to begin shipping on August 5th.

"Quicken