The latest edition of Intuit's market-leading small business accounting software builds mostly on innovations made in previous QuickBooks editions, with tweaks that some customers may find useful. But this year's model has no killer feature that would make the software a got-to-have-it upgrade for all existing users.
So unless you really covet a specific new feature, or face loss of online functionality due to Intuit's ongoing sunset policy (which will affect 2009 editions in several months), you have no need to spend the money that Intuit charges for upgrades to QuickBooks Pro 2012 and QuickBooks Premier 2012.
None of that is meant to belittle Intuit's track record for making software that helps small business owners keep their books, assess their financial health and manage many related chores such as payroll and bill payments. Although newcomers to small business accounting can find less expensive desktop or web-based software, QuickBooks offers unparalleled flexibility, especially given the abundance of third party addons available on Intuit's website that enhance its functionality.
I looked at QuickBooks Premier 2012, the more expensive and full featured edition, with versions tailored to accountants, contractors, manufacturers and wholesalers, non-profits, professional service firms and retailers. However, most of the new features are also present in QuickBooks Pro, which should meet the needs of startup businesses that don't require advanced inventory or invoicing functionality.
No matter which version a new user chooses, Intuit continues to make getting started as painless as possible. A couple of screens request only very basic company ID information and the business type to set up a recommended chart of accounts. After that, you can add data such as customer or inventory information, or go straight to common business tasks such as creating invoices or estimates, adding the data you need on the fly.