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QuickBooks and Microsoft Office 365 (Office 2013)

QuickBooks and Microsoft Office 365 (Office 2013)

July 26, 2012 | By Charlie Russell | 2 Replies More

This is a year of change in the Microsoft world – how will the desktop version of QuickBooks be affected? I talked about QuickBooks and Windows 8 earlier this year, now lets preview how QuickBooks works Microsoft Office 365 (sometimes called Office 2013).

Office 365 has been around in several test versions for awhile now, and this month Microsoft has made a new customer preview version available (see This is not intended for business use yet. If you look at this you should keep it away from your daily-use computer and just play with it (I use it in a “virtual machine”).

I’m not going to talk about the details of what has been changed in this release of Office. There are a lot of user interface changes (colors, how the program reacts to certain actions) and Microsoft is pushing the “web enabled” features very heavily. But, it can still be used as a desktop product without the web features, just like you are used to now.

Note, some of these screen shots are squeezed down – click on any of them to see a larger version.

Microsoft Office 365 Excel

Does It Work with QuickBooks?

I did a quick test of Office 365 with QuickBooks Enterprise 2012 R9, the most current version available at this time, and there were problems.

Let’s be fair to Intuit, though. This is a “customer preview” version of Office, which means that it could have rough edges, it could have bugs. You have to expect some problems, that is why Microsoft is letting us take an early look.

Also, the version of Enterprise that I’m using wasn’t designed to work with Office 365. It is designed to work with Office 2010. Enterprise V12 was released before Office 365 was officially released. So we can’t expect these products to be fully compatible, without any issues.

Why am I testing this now? Because I expect to see people installing the customer preview of Office 365 and using it in their business (even though they shouldn’t), and some of those people are going to also be using QuickBooks. I want to have some idea of what kinds of problems we are going to see.

Does it work? The short answer is, not really. Don’t use Office 365 with QuickBooks, at this time.

Microsoft Office 365 Excel Integration with QuickBooks

There are several places where QuickBooks works with Excel. Here’s a few that I tried.

Exporting reports to Excel is a common function. Select a report, click the Excel button, create a new worksheet.

Exporting QuickBooks Reports to Excel

This worked reasonably well. It was a bit slow. Make sure that you have registered and activated your copy of Office before you try this, because if you haven’t then you’ll get stuck.

Here’s the report (you can see some of the user interface changes in Office 365).

QuickBooks report in Excel 365

So far, it works! I did get that annoying “switch to” error we often see, but it eventually got the job done.

QuickBooks 2012 added some new features for Excel integration, including the ability to update reports without opening QuickBooks. As you can see, Excel does show the QuickBooks tab and the QuickBooks add-in that I would expect to see.

QuickBooks Features in Excel 365

Oops – problem. When I update the report using this method, I get two empty spreadsheets.

Empty Excel Spreadsheets

Not good! Then, I noticed that the QuickBooks tab is gone from Excel.

No QuickBooks tab

And finally, if I try to update the spreadsheet from within QuickBooks, I get this error.

QuickBooks Error

OK, so enough with reports. Some things work, some don’t. Let’s move on to exporting the Item List.

Export the QuickBooks item list to Excel

At first I didn’t think this was working, as I got an almost empty spreadsheet.

Item List to Excel

Then I noticed that there were two spreadsheets. My data is in the second one. Not a perfect result, but it worked.

QuickBooks Item List exported to Office 365

Yet another Excel integration is the Add/Edit Multiple List Entries feature – copying data from Excel and pasting it in. Here’s a very simple “item” in Excel

Excel data to import

Paste it into QuickBooks – it works perfectly.

Excel data pasted into QuickBooks

Microsoft Office 365 Word Integration with QuickBooks

One of the more common ways to integrate QuickBooks with Word is the Letters feature.

QuickBooks export to Word

It started off nicely…

QuickBooks export to Word

But, eventually, QuickBooks crashed. Oh well…

QuickBooks error

That is as far as I could get.

32 bit vs. 64 bit

Everyone is moving to 64 bit computers now – it is hard to find a 32 bit system to purchase any longer. You have a 64 bit computer, you should have a 64 bit version of Microsoft Windows, shouldn’t you also use the 64 bit version of Microsoft Office 365?

Well, not really. While the 64 bit version lets you work with more memory, it is rare that people will actually need the 64 bit version. Here is what Microsoft says about this on the Office 365 Preview web site:

The recommendations for which edition of Office 2013 Preview to install are as follows:

  • If users in your organization depend on existing extensions to Office, such as ActiveX controls, third-party add-ins, in-house solutions built on earlier versions of Office, or 32-bit versions of programs that interface directly with Office, we recommend that you install 32-bit Office 2013 Preview (the default installation) on computers that are running both 32-bit and 64-bit supported Windows operating systems.
  • If some users in your organization are Excel expert users who work with complex Excel spreadsheets, they can install the 64-bit edition of Office 2013 Preview to move beyond the 2 GB addressable memory boundary that is imposed on 32-bit editions. Note that this boundary differs from the physical (on disk) size of the spreadsheet on your computer’s hard disk drive. It is possible to have an Excel file whose size on disk is smaller than 2 GB, but which when it is opened contains enough data to occupy 2 GB or more of addressable memory.

Also, at another Microsoft Office 365 web site:

In most cases, install the 32-bit version of Microsoft Office. We recommend the 32-bit version of Office, because it helps prevent compatibility issues with most other applications, especially third-party add-ins.

This is what I’ve been saying for some time now – stick with the 32 bit version of Office even if you have a 64 bit system. QuickBooks is unlikely to work well with the 64 bit version (I didn’t even try it in this test). I use Microsoft Outlook extensively, and I have a number of Outlook add-ins, and they all work best with the 32 bit version. Office 365 is no different than Office 2012 in this regards.

So What Should You Do?

Don’t be on the bleeding edge on this issue.

  • Don’t use the Microsoft Office 365 Customer Preview on anything other than an isolated test system.
  • Don’t expect it to play nice with any other software that you already have, including QuickBooks.
  • Don’t install the 64 bit version of Office unless you really, really need to.

We’ll hope that Intuit will work out these compatibility issues when they release QuickBooks 2013, but I’m not going to hold my breath. Office 365 hasn’t been officially released yet, and when the final production version is out it is going to take developers some time to work out compatibility issues. Intuit hasn’t had the greatest track record when it comes to issuing timely updates for Office compatibility.