Let’s talk about QuickBooks Desktop Release numbering and how to understand the impact of the release number on how you run your business using QuickBooks.
Intuit releases updates to each year’s version of QuickBooks Desktop throughout the year, to fix bugs and change features. You can see the year and release number of your product by opening your QuickBooks company file and pressing the F2 key. This will open the “Product Information” window, and at the top you will see a line like the following:
In this example we are looking at the QuickBooks Accountant edition, 2020 product year, release R15.
Side note, it is best to NOT send someone a screen shot of the entire window, as your license number is listed just below that Product line. You don’t want to give that to someone.
Release numbers are often very important when trying to diagnose a problem that an add-on software package is having. There are times when there may be a bug in a particular release, or it may be that a feature that is needed by the add-on hasn’t been included in the release you are using. For example, I believe that QuickBooks 2020 Release 11 has a significant error that affects add-on software products, so it should be avoided.
Let’s talk a bit about release numbers as I view them:
- The R1 release is one that you definitely don’t want to be using to run your business. This is the first public product release, usually it is only available to QuickBooks ProAdvisors and software developers, to see the new features released that year. Note that this is the last version given to beta testers for testing. That means if the beta testers find any problems in the last round of testing, this version won’t have fixes for those bugs. It also means that this release has not been used by a large number of users – it has only been used by a relatively small number of people.
- You probably won’t see an R2 release. I believe that Intuit holds on to this release number in case they have to make an urgent emergency release to fix a very bad problem with R1. Their development team is working on fixing any problems found in the last beta test, and that may take a while. R2 means that they found something so bad that they had to rush a fix out without waiting for the normal process. This is very rare, I’m happy to report. Over the past 15 years or so I can only recall one R2 release, QuickBooks 2010 R2. I didn’t see any major issue in that release that would require an R2 release, but I’ll also note that Intuit doesn’t always tell us all of the problems in a particular release.
- The R3 release will be the one that cleans up problems found in the last round of beta testing, and generally this is the first release available to the general public. Given the time it takes for Intuit to release a new release, I doubt that this includes any fixes of problems found in the R1 release, which again has only gone out to a relatively small number of users, ProAdvisors and such. I generally don’t recommend using this in your business.
- After that, R4 and later, you are starting to get releases that incorporate bug fixes found by a larger population of users, and maybe start to see some new features. I prefer to not use an R4 release for a critical business, although you might have to if you need something that was changed to accommodate a necessary year end process, or a change in 1099’s or payroll needed for the next calendar year.
In general, my recommendation is to wait for the first release after New Year’s Day. I don’t like to use new release of ANY software just before I have to do my year end processing. Wait until you’ve gotten through your calendar year-end accounting process before jumping into updating your QuickBooks Desktop software, just in case there is some glitch or change in procedures. The only exception to that guideline is if there is a change in the product that affects something in the year-end processing, such as a change to 1099 forms or payroll.