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Intuit Drops DRM from Future Products 351

MisterKoffee writes "ExtremeTech has a story about Intuit dropping Product Activation and Digital Rights Management for most of its future products, including TurboTax, in response to a customer backlash."
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Intuit Drops DRM from Future Products

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  • by Progman3K ( 515744 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @01:51PM (#5965922)
    If your customers threaten you enough, you'll eventually lose bad schemes like DRM.
    • dont know if it will work out the same way in other in the likes of Windows. The primary reason Quicken must have made the shift would be the fact that people started to find alternatives after reading reviews on amazon and other websites. My dad made the decision entirely on his own to used Griff Tax after reading such reviews. With windows - you dont have an alternative, especially if you wamt to keep all your applications running.

      People seek convinience & for windows it might work out in Microsoft's
    • by FreeLinux ( 555387 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:04PM (#5966053)
      I'm shocked that the so called backlash has caused Intuit to do this. It flies in the face of yesterday's earnings news []. According to the news Intuit sales on its tax preparation software increased dramatically over the same period last year. My assumtion being that the copy protection was indeed effective and caused many more people than usual to fork out their $14~$35.

      This Slashdot story comes as a real shock after yesterdays market news. I'd really like to know some more accurate details on the decision.
      • by mao che minh ( 611166 ) * on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:13PM (#5966138) Journal
        Intuit's profits for last fiscal year were "set in stone" so to speak, because this entire DRM/activation fiasco didn't occur until almost a year after many customer had purchased TurboTax. I very seriously doubt that DRM was a selling feature to any of these customers (how many non-technical people have even heard of DRM?). In other words, if Intuit had not used DRM, then their sales for last year would still have been the same.

        Something tells me that Intuit isn't going to see continued growth and profits next year, though.

        • by Wah ( 30840 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:23PM (#5966224) Homepage Journal
          Something tells me that Intuit isn't going to see continued growth and profits next year, though.

          You are right about that.

          We ran into this piece of crap while I was trying to help my sister do her taxes. I installed the product on my machine and then went out of town. Since my family has a habit of farking up my machine every time they touch it, I told her to install it on the main family machine and then I'd walk her through it (I supported Turbo Tax in a crap-tech job the previous year). No dice there. We did fork out the extra cash, but it will be a number of years before they get anything else from me or anyone in my family.
      • Read the article that you posted and consider where the "backlash" was pointed.

        Their earnings rose, but it appears mainly on the strength of their business products: "high-end products appear to be well-received." "Sales of...small-business products and its services revenue rose 41 percent."

        However, "sales of the company's online tax software rose 11 percent -- below some analysts' expectations".

        Then, over on Extremetech, you realize their talking mostly about Turbotax, which apparently didn't do as wel
        • I think you may be a little confused. Your quote regarding an 11% gain and lower than analyst expectations is referring to online tax software. That is their web based tax preparer. However if you re-read the first line in the CBS story you will see "with a 28 percent gain in sales of its tax-preparation software". This is their retail version of Turbo Tax.
      • by American AC in Paris ( 230456 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:16PM (#5966167) Homepage
        I'm shocked that the so called backlash has caused Intuit to do this. It flies in the face of yesterday's earnings [link]. According to the news Intuit sales on its tax preparation software increased dramatically over the same period last year. My assumtion being that the copy protection was indeed effective and caused many more people than usual to fork out their $14~$35.

        ...but what of increased costs, monetary and otherwise? Consider all the horror stories of tech support--monetarily, they probably spent a good chunk of cash providing support for people who had DRM problems (of which there were quite a few.) Additionally, they've taken a measurable PR hit--that equates into a bleaker sales outlook as people stop buying their product.

        A relative of mine spent several hours ping-ponging through their tech support line, only to give up in frustration. She cost them a good deal more than what she paid them--she tied up a good four employee-hours' worth of work, swore to never buy TurboTax again, and has talked to other people about her experience. All in all, TurboTax has taken a loss on selling their product to her.

        There are others like her.

        • by milo_Gwalthny ( 203233 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:36PM (#5966345)
          I installed Turbotax on my work computer (well, doing my taxes seemed like work) and then the IT people came and took my machine away because the lease had run out and they gave me a new one. Turbotax was the only software I couldn't reinstall. I know I kept tech support on the line for a least two hours (to activate on a new computer they wanted to know the date I activated it on the first computer: how the heck am I supposed to remember that?), as well as filing a bad review at Amazon and sending a nasty letter to their CEO. I am sure they spent more money on me than they would have saved if I was a pirate.

          That said, I like the software and the fact that they listened to my complaints mean I will probably buy it again next year.
        • by Zapman ( 2662 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @03:03PM (#5966602)
          Unfortunatly, the 'I cost them more money in support' argument doesn't wash. Accountants split money into different 'buckets'. Revenue comes in, and is devided into capital, Operations and Maintance, and Profit. (I'm over simplifying).

          Capital money is money given to projects once. It's usually a bigish wad, and it's for a year. You have this much money to get this many new things to do this good work for us (IE: We need to implement a new source code version tracking package. Needs this much hardware, this much software, and will cost this much in support the first year).

          O&M money is 'mantaiance' money. It costs this much to keep this web server up and running, and supplied with bandwidth. Salaries come out of this pool as well. O&M is usually a sunk cost. Just the cost of doing business. Support for their product is certainly a sunk cost. They invest a flat fee in salaries, headcount, phones, etc. From my CVS example above, maintance on the hardware, and software would be added to the O&M budget for the second year of it's life.

          To the accountants, someone being on hold for 6 hours, and wasting 1 hour of 4 employees time isn't 'wasting' more money than the revenue from purchasing the product. It's just averaged in with all those people who DIDN'T call intuit, and just used TurboTax on one computer (like me (i bought it before I heard of the DRM games)).
          • But what the accountants cannot and do not take into account is the PR value of a pissed off customer. Some of them have long memories and revenge is best served cold.

      • However, most people only found out about the DRM and Spyware *AFTER* buying the product and consequently pumping the sales numbers. Once it's in your hands, it's too late to *not* buy the software because you've been warned off. Even if you returned the software for a refund, I think that gets recorded in a separate part of the accounting books (IANAA!!!), so the sales numbers would remain inflated.

        I think the *REAL* measure of how well it worked would have come next year, when all the PO'd customers wou
      • It's entirely possible that the increased sales for TurboTax were because more people wanted to do their taxes online this year, and TurboTax would make it "easier."

        So, I think it's premature to look at the DRM as the only reason for increased volume in sales.

    • you'll eventually lose bad schemes like DRM.

      Correction- you will lose bad schemes like poorly implemented DRM. DRM itself is neither good nor bad, but Intuit's implementation was pretty bad.
    • by ( 637314 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:22PM (#5966213) Homepage Journal
      The moral of the story: you can make a difference! Don't let corporations (or anyone) walk all over what you want. You exchange money for a product or service and you want what you paid for!
    • Quicken tried to do what Microsoft did with XP, OfficeXP, etc. So, I switched to TaxCut from many years of TurboTax use. It read my previous year's return (in TT format) and was easier to use to boot. TaxCut made simple suggestions to lower my taxes for next year, as did TurboTax. As a matter of fact, I doubt I'll return to Quicken's product. Is there a lesson in all this? I think so:
      • You cannot do what Microsoft does until you have what Microsoft has -- complete market dominance.

      Written using XP Pro and I

      • You cannot do what Microsoft does until you have what Microsoft has -- complete market dominance

        And MS itself doesn't do all of the activation crap in product segments where it's trying to prove itself, or win a PR exercise. Case in point: SQL Server has no activation. Neither does VS.Net.

  • DRM? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Neophytus ( 642863 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @01:52PM (#5965924)
    Their DRM was so potentially dangerous it was silly. Good to see that they are pulling back from their stance. I don't see microsoft taking the hint, though.
    • by PhxBlue ( 562201 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @01:55PM (#5965967) Homepage Journal

      You won't see Microsoft take a hint from Intuit or anyone else. They're far beyond the level of market share where they have to concern themselves with trivialities like consumer satisfaction.

      • They're far beyond the level of market share where they have to concern themselves with trivialities like consumer satisfaction.

        This just goes to show that companies like Microsoft are short-lived in the grand scheme of things. Intuit responds to customers to survive as a really shouldn't be any different for Microsoft. It's just that, for Microsoft, it is a matter of long-term survival, otherwise they will simply burn up in their arrogance after just a few more years.
        • Intuit responds to customers to survive as a business

          They have to because there is competition in the tax prep business. The desktop and office product business does not. I believe going into this, Intuit truely felt they could bully the customers a little bit and get a way with it do to the market share they had in the past and its close tie in with other products used by customers throughout the year. They now see their grip was not as tight as they thought.
    • by jmv ( 93421 )
      Because MS knows it's powerful enough to get away even with those kinds of things and that people can't suddenly switch away from Windows.
    • MS isn't taking the hint because their customers haven't complained, people seem willing to accept a lot more from MS.

      ProfQuotes []
      • MS also didn't use such dramatic methods of DRM. I remember Intuit actually wrote blocks to areas outside of the filesystem. Unless I'm mistaken (always a possibility), MS isn't that sneaky about it.
    • now I can start sharing it with my family and friends again. Geesh!

    • by siskbc ( 598067 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:54PM (#5966508) Homepage
      Their DRM was so potentially dangerous it was silly. Good to see that they are pulling back from their stance. I don't see microsoft taking the hint, though.

      Right, but I think they misread the consumer response, which is unfortunate. They think people are telling them to get copy-protection off their products. Actually, most of us (I think) were saying, "Stay off our boot sector."

      Problem there is that those of us who don't like software that screws with boot sectors and AV protection get lumped in with software pirates in their eyes. They've said that they think there were ulterior motives behind the "no bootsector" complaints, sort of in the same way that pot smokers support the hemp fabric industry - and it ain't because they have any vested interest in rope.

      It would be nice for somebody like the EFF or whatever to really sit down with companies like Intuit and convince them that most of us don't at all have a problem with copy protection that doesn't reduce the functionality of the software or cause security/stability problems.

  • by biggknifeparty ( 618904 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @01:52PM (#5965925) print FOUR times total!

    I usually need at least that many times because of spotting errors and fixing them up!

    Good job Intuit! If this garbage is gone then I WILL purchase your product again.

  • Coming soon (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2003 @01:54PM (#5965951)
    TurboTax 2003: The Quickening, starring Sean Connery as the dead-but-not-really DRM engineer who must again protect Connor from having his head (Tax-)Cut off./
  • Hmmm. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dthoma ( 593797 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @01:55PM (#5965957) Journal
    It's all well and good hoping that other companies will follow their lead, but unfortunately some companies can afford to hold out on DRM until their customers are forced to accept it; though Intuit may have gone out of business from the customer backlash if they had kept this up, the same may not be true for other companies.
  • by L-Train8 ( 70991 ) <> on Thursday May 15, 2003 @01:55PM (#5965963) Homepage Journal
    Thank goodness enough people got pissed about this. Intuit justified the DRM scheme by exaggerating their software losses. They said they sold x copies of TurboTax, yet 2x tax returns were filed using their software, implying that piracy cut their sales in half. They didn't mention how someone might legally do their own taxes and their mom's taxes on the same piece of software.

    Ironically, H&R Block, the main benificiary of the consumer ire towards Intuit, is considering adding DRM to their TaxCut software for next year.
    • Ironically, H&R Block, the main benificiary of the consumer ire towards Intuit, is considering adding DRM to their TaxCut software for next year.
    • Just remember people have to PAY for each return. So if they sell X copies and get 2X returns online (and there are Y people would bought the software and PRINTED and mailed returnes) the X people paid for the software and 2X - Y paided for on-line filing, X+Y paied for ONLY the online filing....but it's still better then if even 1/2 of them decided to do it by hand and not give ANY money to Intuit!
  • by LordYUK ( 552359 ) <(jeffwright821) (at) (> on Thursday May 15, 2003 @01:55PM (#5965965)
    ... one of the NWN patches that BioWare released took the copy protection off of their CD's a few months after release due to overwhelming customer demand.

    I personally think that while companies have a right to protect their products, if I pay money for something, I damn well be able to use it as its intended. It still pisses me off that a 2/3 of the CD-RW drives I own will NOT play WC3.

  • Good for Them! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hipster_doofus ( 670671 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @01:55PM (#5965966) Homepage
    I think they realized that DRM will never be accepted by consumers until such time as they can make it less intrusive.

    If I buy a digital product, I want to be able to be able to use it like I would use a physical product that I purchase.

    Apple got very, very close to good DRM with their music store [], but I have yet to see anything that does not penalize the consumer in some way for the pirates' actions.
  • by Damiano ( 113039 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @01:55PM (#5965969)
    I was one of the Intuit customers who jumped ship and used another product this year. I specifically emailed Intuit and TOLD them why I was doing this. I think that people are too pessimistic and feel that corporations won't listen to feedback, but they'd be wrong. Any corporation wanting to stay in business will listen to feedback that directly affects their bottom line. So remember to email or write, your letter unto itself won't make a difference, but if it is received along with 999 others it certainly will.

    • You just emailed them? I bought the 2001 Canadian version of quicktax that had DRM. When I found out, I phoned them and yelled at their complaints person for half an hour listing exactly why I had problems with it and that I would never buy another Intuit product. It helped that they used caller id to see my phone number and knew that I was a registered user every year since 1993. I also demanded an RMA under their 100% satisfaction guarantee and sent my copy back to them for a full refund -- after usin
      • by Kombat ( 93720 ) <> on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:25PM (#5966240) Homepage
        So let me get this straight. You've relied on software to do your taxes for 10 years, instead of doing them yourself, with the forms the government mails you, for free. You buy this software, then YELL (your word, not mine) at a complete stranger, a customer service rep who is just trying to do his/her job, who had absolutely NOTHING TO DO with the decision to use this type of DRM, for *half an hour*??? You think yourself important enough to presume that they surely must have looked up your caller ID and taken the trouble to see that lo and behold, you've bought their software every year since 1993 (in fact, unless you told them this, I highly doubt they did such investigating on their own, unless only for a temporary diversion from being yelled at by a stranger for something they had nothing to do with).

        Finally, after all of that, you have the gall, the sheer and utter audacity to come in here and brag that you send the software back and demanded a refund, only after using it to file your taxes (for which it appeared to work just fine, did it not?)

        I can't figure out if you're a troll, stupid, rude, just plain mean, immoral, a thief, or something else.

        *sigh* A least you're not a tax cheat though.
        • by jgerman ( 106518 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:41PM (#5966384)

          You buy this software, then YELL (your word, not mine) at a complete stranger, a customer service rep who is just trying to do his/her job

          Somehow I doubt his requests to speak to the project manager who made the decision, or a developer, or someone higher up would have been filled.

          He was well within his rights to yell and bitch to the customer service representative because it's their job to handle customer complaints.

          As far as using it to do his taxes before sending it back, that may be shady but it's no big deal.

    • It took me two faxes, three phone calls and an email but I got my money returned to me from Intuit AFTER the money back gaurantee date because I refuesed to install TurboTax on my machine. I got a letter expressing regret, also. I'm glad that Intuit changed their policy, I'll probably go back to them next year.
  • This is good news (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Cthefuture ( 665326 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @01:56PM (#5965971)
    I mostly only ever run Windows in VMware and the stupid activation crap for TurboTax wouldn't work. It would say "activation successful" then when it would continue to start the program it would ask to activate again.
  • by burgburgburg ( 574866 ) <> on Thursday May 15, 2003 @01:57PM (#5965988)
    I'm confused. A company noticed the ill will that their original restrictive ill-conceived action created and responded in a consumer friendly way to correct their behavior in the future?

    Now, I'm feeling dizzy. Must ... read ...Microsoft EULA ... "Reserves the right to make any changes any time with no notification" ... "takes no responsibility for any damages" ... Oh, okay. I'm feeling better now.

  • by bsayer ( 149333 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @01:57PM (#5965996)
    "Adding digital-rights-management software to the company's tax preparation neither paid off financially in attracting new customers, nor in consumer satisfaction, Intuit spokesman Scott Gulbransen said."

    Just how was adding DRM supposed to attract customers and increase customer satisfaction? This sounds distinctly like a marketing/public relations spin attempt.
  • by andyrut ( 300890 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @01:58PM (#5965998) Homepage Journal
    This is excellent news for the paying customers of Intiut products. Unfortunately, this is probably excellent news for software pirates everywhere.

    I believe Intuit may see a drop in the sales of TurboTax next year if they remove product activation. Around small offices, I know that the software would be passed around like a bad cold if they didn't have to register the software to actually print out their taxes.
  • It was handled badly (Score:5, Interesting)

    by unfortunateson ( 527551 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @01:58PM (#5966000) Journal
    Effective copy protection -- and frankly, theirs was pretty darn effective, compared to most -- at this point has to be intrusive to actually work.

    The only way around it would be to patch the code to prevent the lookup, and that's more work than your average person is willing to do.

    Theirs certainly was intrusive. Aside from the possible damage to my machine from questionable tactics such as boot-sector munging, their policy of requiring only a single PC being able to use the software is the biggest real objection.

    I have multiple PC's at home. I do most of my work in the living room, but it would be nice to be able to alternately work on my taxes from the upstairs office. No can do, without a second license. At least Micro$oft's Activation method lets you have two copies in most cases.

    If they really want effective copy protection, the product should come with a USB dongle. That's still annoying, because it may cause you to go out and get a hub and still use your other USB devices at the same time, but I'd live with that.

    Would it be fair to then hand my USB dongle to my buddy so he can do his taxes? I'd say yes -- because I would not be able to use it while he has it. Intuit would probably say no. On the other hand, my buddy would probably be more likely to go out and get his own copy for next year.

    Ooh! And give a discount to those who have last years' key!

    That contrasts with their current policy of offering early versions to registered users, and a price usually $20 higher than BestBuy will have just after XMas.

    • I have multiple PC's at home. I do most of my work in the living room, but it would be nice to be able to alternately work on my taxes from the upstairs office. No can do, without a second license. At least Micro$oft's Activation method lets you have two copies in most cases.

      I thought that you could install Turbo Tax on multiple computers and that the only limitation was that you could only file from the first installation? If so, it's not that big of a limitation for a multi-computer household, as you ins

      • As angle_slam says above, you could install Turbo Tax on multiple computers, but only file (and print?) from the first installation. (In fact, strictly speaking, I think you could do this on any installation -- you would disable it on the first installation and enable it on the one you wanted to move it to.)

        As you say, if you have a multi-computer household, you can quite easily work on your return on multiple PCs -- you just have to go to the main one to do the final filing. No biggie -- even less hassle
  • by GuNgA-DiN ( 17556 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @01:59PM (#5966009)
    If you include DRM -- you will sink like a lead balloon. The customers have spoken. Now, we just need to turn the heat up on Microsoft. Why wasn't their a backlash like this for Microsoft? People need to tell companies that they won't stand for this type of behavior. Let's hope that Microsoft is taking notes. Palladium is going to have the same problems as Intuit did.
    • "If you include DRM -- you will sink like a lead balloon."

      Oh yeah, this explains why Apple sold 2 million songs in 2 weeks? I think company and individuals have a right to protect their intellectual property. Therefore, I support fair DRM like the one iTunes Music Store is doing (unlimited iPod, unlimited streaming, unlimited buring (up to 10 times for the same PLaylist), and allowable on up to 3 Macs).

      • Ok, So User A buys it, makes a Audio CD which User B rips and puts on a P2P network. The issue is that any system that supports fair DRM uses, is also very easy to abuse. I'm not a fan of locking down eveything w/ DMR and killing fair use, but I can see where the other side stands...and it's not a pretty picture for either side. I don't think it will ever be easy to solve/
    • by evilpenguin ( 18720 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:41PM (#5966379)
      Why wasn't their a backlash like this for Microsoft?

      Haven't we already talked about the difference in power between a company with a monopoly on the market and one that is in a competitive market?

      I'm a die-hard GNU/Linux and Free Software advocate (even to the point of occasionally prefixing "linux" with "GNU"), but seriously, what alternative to Microsoft exists in the marketplace?

      The home user gets a copy of Windows on the PC s/he buys through virtually every common outlet. (Wal-Mart on line offers Linux based PCs, but not in their stores yet). The games they want to run are Windows-only.

      In business, it is hard to find OEMs pushing Linux for desktop machines. Sure, you could go to one of the Linux-friendly VARs, but most of them aren't geared up to provide sales and support to large corporations.

      I'm not saying this situation is forever. Linux is gaining ground in all markets. But, for the present, Microsoft still has their effective monopoly power. They're strongarming the motherboard OEMs into implementing Palladium. They'll have it in a future version of Windows. And what choice will consumers have? There won't be a choice. And that, my friends, is what monopolies and cartels do.

      A plan for consumer friendly computing:

      1. Educate. Talk to your friends about DRM and what it means.

      2. Agitate. Join the EFF []. Write your congressional delegation. Boycott companies (like Intuit) that use DRM.

      3. Have integrity. Don't violate copyright. Don't copy software illegally. Don't copy music illegally. Don't copy anything illegally. This is the least popular thing I have to say, but it is IMPORTANT. Every copy is bullet in the other side's arsenal. Evey copy is an argument for them to push legislation that takes away our freedoms. We must not be hypocrites if we want to have the moral ground to expose their hypocrisy.

      4. Exercise the rights you have. Rip every single one of your CDs to mp3 or ogg files. Copy them onto every kind of media you have. Make use of your fair use rights. Return hardware that doesn't let you do this. Return (or better, don't buy) copy protected media. Even if that Macrovision protected DVD is your favorite movie (here you are hampered by the fact that products are not labeled adequately -- that's where writing congress comes in -- lobby for consumer protection laws. Our opoonents have lobbyists -- be one yourself for our side. Believe me, letters make a difference).

      5. Talk. (Actually a variation on item 1, but it is really important, so I'll repeat it). Spread these ideas. Put up a web site. Join in onine discussions here and elsewhere. Get the "idea" of digital freedom into the popular conciousness at every opportunity. True, this isn't slavery or Jim Crow, but this is a civil liberties issue, and it is time we started drawing people's attention to it.
  • It's about time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rumpledstiltskin ( 528544 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @01:59PM (#5966013) Homepage Journal
    This is a perfect case of a company bending to the demands of its customers. Intuit is probably not going to kill DRM though. Any idiot can tell that making a product naked before the world will make it much easier to pirate. Probably Intuit will come up with a different way to enforce the license on its software, perhaps something like Microsoft's Product Activation or something equally intrusive. At least they're not dancing in my boot sector any more.
  • Good Idea.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gerf ( 532474 ) <> on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:00PM (#5966022) Journal

    This is great, but for a different reason. They're differentiating between those who pay, and those who don't. Those who pay, don't get the DRM. That's very nice. Those who don't, (demo, marketing versions), get it, and can't get rid of it. If this convinces people to pay, without inhibiting them in any way that really matters (especially paying customers), great! This is FINALLY a good application of DRM!

    • Not really. A demo that screws up my boot sector in the name of DRM has just convinced me that I DON'T want to pay for the real thing.

  • huh? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dauvis ( 631380 )
    They expected to see sales growth by adding product activation? I want some of whatever they're smoking.
    • The fact is that they did see sales growth. Try reading this [].

      Frankly, I cannot understand what their real motivation for removing the DRM is.
      • Their total sales went up, but I recall reading that their Market Segment Share (how they did relative to competitive products) went down. So More people used software to do their taxes this year, so the pie was bigger, but Intuit got a smaller percentage of the pie. While total sales are important, MSS is JUST and if not MORE important. Here's a referance []. Intuit wants to stopp the loss in MSS.
  • A little Late... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zoobaby ( 583075 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:03PM (#5966048)
    They lost my money and my future business because of the tax software registration/lock down fiasco. They showed the software industry about how much the general public will take in terms of software liscensing.
  • by N0decam ( 630188 )
    They've already lost me as a customer. I will not be returning, due to their lack of respect for me.

    There are other tax software vendors, and lots of other financial packages, and I will continue to look to their competitors. It's not like their software is far and away the best out there, and I'm forced to use it.
    • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:27PM (#5966266) Homepage Journal
      what, they where supposed to read your mind before the institute a new capability?
      Hell, this is a company that is responding to customer complaints. they also posted a removal of the boot sector 'feature' pretty damn quick.
    • After very vocally bailing out from TurboTax this year (several phone calls to express my displeasure, and informing them I'd think about coming back when they removed DRM), I chose TaxCut as the next best thing based on many writeups and reviews of various other products. I use the Home & Business version, to handle my home business Schedule C.

      I'm sorry to report that when it comes to usability and user interface, TurboTax has TaxCut licked, no matter how you look at it. Just a short list:
      - Installati
  • IRS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rwiedower ( 572254 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:04PM (#5966061) Homepage

    Am I the only person who feels that this entire argument should be moot? The IRS is perfectly capable of allowing consumers to file online tax returns. Several states, including DC (my home is in the district) allow online tax forms to be filled out. All are quite advanced, allowing deductions and the proper calculations to take mere seconds. Most are relatively error-free.

    The IRS though, caving to groups like Intuit and full-service prepares like H&R Block, has taken the novel approach of allowing people to submit taxes online, but only if approved through a private company. Yes, there are a few folks who can use telefile, but for anyone making any decent wages, there's no free equivalent to telefile for federal forms. I'm don't itemize my deductions, yet even taking the standard deduction makes it "impossible" to use telefile.

    This is one area that the government could step in and provide a useful service for free, just as the states have done so. There's no reason for them not to, except for frantic lobbying by certain interests.

    • Re:IRS (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:20PM (#5966192)
      As a former Intuit employee, I can verify that they see the government offering the software/service for free as the biggest possible threat. (Even bigger than Microsoft, if you can believe that) Intuit maintains lobyists to make sure that the Government doesn't cut into their action.
    • I still had to send the IRS my W2 forms when I filed online (the only time) they made me send my W2 forms in anyways. But if I filed by phone they took my voice as my signature, at least that was the IRS' answer when asked. Never once did the file by phone ask you to speak, it was touch tone the whole way, a mute could use it. Whats the point of going electronic if you can't go electronic? ALL federal tax's should be freely doable on their website.
    • The IRS is perfectly capable of allowing consumers to file online tax returns. [...] There's no reason for them not to, except for frantic lobbying by certain interests.

      You're not alone. It doesn't even have to be a real tax preparation software or website. How about just an Excel spreadsheet template that I can fill in, and email to them? Security minded? How about a secure website I can upload the spreadsheet to? These are things that will take literally a few hours to do.

      If I don't feel like spend

    • If you file paperwork, the IRS is required to keep a copy of everything you send them. So every year, I send them the majority of what they would request during an audit, bank records, etc.

      I've used software to prepare my return, but always file by mail. That way, they have more to deal with. I am not about to pay, to go through a private company for a filing. If the IRS makes it simple to file digitally, then I might ease up on them. Right now I say Choke 'em on paperwork.

  • by jbs0902 ( 566885 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:06PM (#5966075)
    There constant marketing to me and cross-marketing over the years already let me know Intuit viewed me as a profit center not a valued customer.

    This DRM silliness was the straw that broke my back. I tried H&R blocks software and found no real difference. Now H&R has me as a customer. And, I strongly frightened my family and friends awy from TurboTax.

    The big problem is that Intuit, H&R et al aren't bound by the same sacrosanct statutes as the IRS. So, there is no legel provision stopping them from selling/giving away your person informaiton and your income statements.

    With them treating me as a profit center (as opposed to a customer) I have lost faith that they're not (at least capable of) storing and selling my info either when I use electronic filing or when the software silently phones home.

    I always accepted that such behaviour was technically possible, but not something they would do, until the DRM coupled with excessive cross-marketing.

    My relationship with them was based on trust and now they've lost that.
    • by nsayer ( 86181 ) < minus language> on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:17PM (#5966173) Homepage
      I tried H&R blocks software and found no real difference.

      My understanding (perhaps it's merely a rumor I'm repeating) is that H&R Block was going to use the same Cactus crap to protect their software starting in 2003 (that is, for the 2003 tax year which is actually going to be in 2004), but the minute they saw the flap starting over Intuit's use of it they very quickly backpeddled and put on a nice public face (while secretly saying, "there but for the grace of God go we").

      So I guess H&R Block is the lesser evil, but I don't believe they're entirely innocent here.

  • by evilpenguin ( 18720 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:07PM (#5966076)
    I'm one of those people who protested to Intuit. I had purchased the software, so I used it, but never again.

    While I am very glad they have seen the light, there is still their implicit accusation that every single one of their customers is a thief (which, IMHO, is what DRM implies). I'm glad they're dropping DRM, but they should be groveling to their customers. Until they do, I'll be buying from their competitors (that don't use DRM, of course). Intuit should be made to feel pain, and I mean deep hurting where it counts, their bottom line. While the RIAA and MPAA are out there making examples of people, it is time we made an example of Intuit. Despite this turnaround, they should be made an example to the whole corporate world that technologies of control are unacceptable to consumers. If Intuit's revenue were to drop 50%, believe me, it will chill the market for DRM products.

    Here's what I suggest if you, like me, are a user of Intuit software:

    1. If you are a TurboTax user, switch to a competitor next year (one that doesn't use DRM either).

    2. If you are a Quicken user, either switch to something else, MoneyDance, GNUCash, etc., or at least DO NOT UPGRADE. If you seriously think about it, what could a new version do for you that the current one doesn't?

    Hit 'em. Hurt 'em. Teach 'em a lesson.

    No more Intuit products for me. And I have NEVER copied a single product of theirs. EVER. In fact, that's why I'm so angry with them.
  • by nsayer ( 86181 ) < minus language> on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:12PM (#5966131) Homepage
    I thought we had already had this whole cycle (copy protection, customer backlash, an escalating battle of attrition on both sides, and finally the realization that it does more harm than good) played out in the '80s.

    Software companies that offer real value for money have little need to resort to copy protection. It's the ones that don't that always wind up resorting to nonsense like copy protection. But, of course, the copy protection lowers the value of their product even more, which simply makes the decision to jump to a competitor even easier. Even Microsoft is starting to see this.

  • I'm glad to see that Intuit finally came to their senses. Too bad they did it so late, as I've already switched to H & R Block's TaxCut. Now all my data has been switched over, I see no reason to go back. Who should I support: The company that changed it's mind about screwing me, or the company that never tried to screw me in the first place?

    The tragedy is that anyone with half a brain could have told them their scheme wouldn't work. Moreover, they've aliented not only millions of potential customers, but millions of formerly loyal customers as well. I had used MacinTax (the Mac version of TurboTax) for seven to ten years. Now, unless H&R Block does something stupid or discontinues the product, I have no compelling reason to switch back.

    It's good to see Intuit come to it's senses, but the damage is already done.
  • if you notified (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:22PM (#5966212) Homepage Journal
    intuit and complained, you should notify them and let them know you appreciate there removal of drm.
  • I'm not using them next year... got burned, got mad, walked. Plenty of other tax software thats cheaper and suits my simple needs.
  • by zanderredux ( 564003 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:26PM (#5966261)
    Here in Brazil, the tax software is provided by the government for free and comes with no use restrictions...

    I wonder if US/Canadian tax software is something more than an plain electronic form

  • by Wilebi ( 253774 )
    "In addition, we didn't get the revenue and profit growth we expected."

    I think they'd be trying to find a way to keep DRM while resolving it's problems if their bottom line had been better. I don't think it's as much about the backlash as we'd like to believe.
  • by Eusebo ( 24544 ) * on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:33PM (#5966316)
    I can see it now: Sales are up for TurboTax 2002 (with DRM). DRM is subsequently removed in TurboTax 2003 because of customer "backlash". Sales fall for TurboTax 2003 (the true customer backlash: "I'm not buying that shit!") Intuit claims it supports their need for DRM (because obviously sales fell due to piracy.) Rinse and repeat...
  • My girlfriend was a long-term Turbo Tax customer. I talked her out of it this year, citing the problems experienced by others with Intuit's DRM scheme. We both used one of the online filing services [] listed by the IRS.

    Overall, the experience was positive. We used different services, but both services had the usual wizard-like walkthrough, error-checking, etc.. And we both got our refunds in short order.

    I'm now recommending online filing to everyone who asks. It can be significantly less expensive (d

  • by bizitch ( 546406 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:35PM (#5966334) Homepage
    I read them the riot act about this via email. I finally recieved this reply today ..

    Dear Valued Customer:

    In response to your comments on the implementation of product activation technology in tax year 2002 TurboTax® software, I wanted to let you know that Intuit will discontinue product activation in next year's TurboTax desktop products purchased at retail or direct from Intuit.

    We are absolutely committed to listening and learning from our customers. We clearly need to better understand all of our customers' tax preparation needs and how they use TurboTax.

    While we remain committed to protecting our intellectual property, going forward, we will only introduce digital rights management technologies that maximize customer experience and preserve customer satisfaction.
    Again, thanks for your feedback.

    Tom Allanson, Sr. Vice President

    Well - they saved me as a paying and happy customer!
  • by wfmcwalter ( 124904 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:36PM (#5966351) Homepage
    My job requires me to develop for QNX using their "momentics professional" kit, hosted on windows. QNX chose to protect this with FlexLM, which is in turn protected by some of the Macrovision stuff that Intuit use.

    While the QNX stuff is generally of excellent quality the FlexLM thing is a persistent source of problems. Installation and upgrade have never gone smoothly, with obscure services not starting or being misconfigured by the installer, client authentication going wrong more times than it should (i.e. ever), and occasional file-locking problems that require a reboot. At least in my case, licence management seems to generate as much traffic with the QNX support folks as does their actual product (host and target) in its entirety.

    Worryingly, the licence is bound specifically to one licence server. I _imagine_ that if the machine (a laptop) were destroyed, lost, or updated, then there would be some means whereby I could persuade them to issue another licence, but it's bound to be a sticky point.

    I wouldn't care if everything worked properly and transparently, but it doesn't. My vendor is essentially treating me like a thief and simultaneously making himself look like a bozo (which he isn't - the rest of the QNX stuff is great).

    On the last occasion it took several days to resolve the licence manager issues - had this been at a more critical time then this would have been a dealbreaker. It leaves me with a rather bitter taste in my mouth, and I'd think twice before recommending QNX to another client, purely for this reason.

    So is their bizantine DRM saving them money, or costing them? I think Intuit can answer that for them.

  • by The Kryptonian ( 617472 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:37PM (#5966352)
    .. they said that though they've taken it out, they might put it back in in the future if they felt they needed to.

    Obviously they WANTED to keep the DRM, but the market pressure forced them to do otherwise. They said that there was no financial incentive to keep the DRM in the product. We have to assume that their interest in DRM was driven by other concerns, since as they've taken it out and said that they might put it back in in the same breath. Evidently some of the people at that company are still strongly in favor of DRM, or this somewhat ambiguous statement wouldn't have been made in the first place.

    To those people, the consumers of the world have an announcement of our own to make: "DRM is poisonous to future sales. Don't put it in your products, don't use it, don't even hint at it, because we're not buying it!"
  • Fool me once, (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BigChigger ( 551094 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:44PM (#5966409)
    shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

    They lost me as a customer. Taxcut did just as well for me and I have no reason to go back to TT from Intuit.

  • Oh darn (Score:3, Funny)

    by Our Man In Redmond ( 63094 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:54PM (#5966513)
    When I first read the headline I saw " Intel Drops DRM" and I was about to do the Happy Dance on Palladium's grave.

    Well, let's hope we still get to see that headline.
  • So? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by buss_error ( 142273 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @03:06PM (#5966630) Homepage Journal

    By their actions, they called me a theif.

    When I complained, they said the complaint was because I had "other interests" than using the software.

    They ignored my complaints for months.

    They reserve the right to do it again if they want.

    Now why would I give my money to someone that insults and ignores me? Why would they expect me to?
    Nope. I'm gone for good.

Executive ability is deciding quickly and getting somebody else to do the work. -- John G. Pollard