QuickBooks Desktop and Internet Explorer

Written by Charlie Russell

If you are using QuickBooks desktop on Microsoft Windows, I recommend that you make sureQuickBooks Desktop and Internet Explorer you have Internet Explorer 11 installed on your computer! Let’s take a look at how QuickBooks uses Internet Explorer, and why I think it is very important that you ensure that you are using Internet Explorer 11.

Charlie Russell will present the session, Keeping Up With QuickBooks Desktop — A Look Ahead, at Accountex USA 2017.

Where QuickBooks Desktop Depends on Internet Explorer

There are a number of places in QuickBooks desktop (Windows version) where the program depends on Internet Explorer.QuickBooks Desktop and Internet Explorer

QuickBooks will often open a “captive browser window,” a window inside of the program where you actually have an instance of a browser. This window is still a part of the QuickBooks desktop environment, and it cannot be moved outside of the main QuickBooks program window. You can tell if it is a “captive browser window” by the world icon in the upper right.

QuickBooks Desktop and Internet Explorer

There may be some instances where the appearance is different, or where the browser window is not “captive.”

I’m not sure that I have all of the functions and features that are dependent on Internet Explorer, but here’s my list. If you know of any others, let me know, and I’ll add them to the list.

  • Bank feeds – if you are working with bank feeds you will be working with a browser window.
  • Connected apps – Some of the connected apps in QuickBooks require a browser window. For example, Intuit Data Protect and Field Service Manager.
  • QuickBooks Payments – Much of the QuickBooks Payments workflow is in the embedded browser.
  • Company Menu – Several functions here require a browser window:
    • My Company – the Manage Your Account button opens a window
    • Advanced Service Administration
    • Cash Flow Projector
  • QuickBooks Payroll – Some workflows in QuickBooks Payroll work in the browser, including account management, 1099 wizard, print forms, payroll subscription, direct deposit activation, and more.
  • Accountant Menu – Options to access your ProAdvisor account and online accountant resources.
  • Help menu:
    • Find Training (oops, I get a 404 page not found error here?)
    • Support
    • Find a local expert
    • Send Feedback
    • New Business Checklist
    • Year End Guide
    • Add QuickBooks Services
    • App Center
    • QuickBooks privacy statement
  • Some In-Product Help workflows will point to links and Intuit KB articles hosted on Intuit sites.
  • Self-help.
  • Web registration.
  • Web connector.

There may be more…

Why Does QuickBooks Use Internet Explorer?

That is a good question to start off with. We are talking about a desktop program, so why is it dependent on a browser? Note only that, why must it be Internet Explorer? If you deactivate Internet Explorer, QuickBooks will tell you that it can’t run. If you make another browser your default browser, these windows still open in Internet Explorer. Why?

Back when QuickBooks was changing from DOS over to Microsoft Windows, there were certain “standards” published by Microsoft. They talked about how you should manage program windows, what the structure of your menus should be, and so forth. As a part of this, Microsoft strongly recommended that you closely integrate your product with Microsoft products. After all, you are writing for a Microsoft operating system, so shouldn’t you try to leverage all of the advantages that Microsoft had to offer?

Microsoft tried to make it very easy to do these integrations. Why build your own spreadsheet function when you could just hook into Microsoft Excel? Email could be handled by hooking into Microsoft Outlook, text editing by using Microsoft Word, and so forth.

Did you want to provide Internet connectivity? Microsoft made it very easy to integrate with Internet Explorer.

This is all particularly true when you built software using the Microsoft programming framework, .NET (also called dotNet by some people), which is an important part of QuickBooks Desktop for Windows as we know it now.

So, yes, Intuit did what many software developers did, they relied on integration with Microsoft products such as Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer. It made sense in those days.

Here we are today, and QuickBooks desktop for Windows still uses the .Net Framework, and it still is closely integrated with Internet Explorer. Could they rewrite QuickBooks to get away from this dependency? Sure! But that would most likely require a massive rewrite of their product for the desktop environment. Will Intuit invest in this kind of rewrite? I seriously doubt that they will, since as I’ve pointed out before, they believe that QuickBooks Online is the future for Intuit.

It is interesting to note that Help/Ask Intuit does not appear to require Internet Explorer. It opens just fine in Chrome on my system. So, yes, new features could be set up to be browser-independent, but that doesn’t change all the older features that currently require it.

I Strongly Recommend Internet Explorer 11

OK, so we know that QuickBooks Desktop on Windows requires Internet Explorer, even if you prefer another browser. What version of Internet Explorer do you have on your computer? If you aren’t already doing so, I strongly recommend that you use Internet Explorer 11. Here’s why.

Internet Explorer 11 is the only version that Microsoft is updating. Since JanuaryQuickBooks Desktop and Internet Explorer 2016, Microsoft will no longer be issuing security updates for older versions. Even if you don’t use Internet Explorer for your web surfing, you really want to have the most secure version on your computer.

This also means that you must be running Windows 7 or higher, since Internet Explorer 11 won’t run on Windows XP or Windows Vista. I don’t see that as a problem, because no business should be running Windows XP any longer, and Windows Vista was a total mess.

Intuit only guarantees compatibility with Internet Explorer 11, according to their current system requirements page for QuickBooks 2017 (the most current product at the time I’m writing this). Although you can use some older versions without getting a warning, it is always best to match the minimum system requirements for a product.

Some QuickBooks features may only work with Internet Explorer 11. For example, in Bank Feeds, some bank websites are not compatible with older versions of Internet Explorer. Also, some of the QuickBooks in-product help features link to Intuit websites that might not render correctly with older browser versions.

Maximizing security should be your goal, and given Microsoft’s policies on support for Internet Explorer, along with QuickBooks’ reliance on it, every business user should have upgraded to Internet Explorer 11. Keep in mind that we’ve seen Intuit focusing on security in QuickBooks recently, with the password security update and multiple internal security adjustments in the latest release. This tells me that there is a good chance that Intuit will be dropping support for older versions of Internet Explorer in the near future.

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About the author

Charlie Russell

Charlie Russell has been involved with the small business software industry since the mid 70's, and remembers releasing his first commercial accounting software product when you had an 8-bit microcomputer with one 8 inch floppy disk drive. He has a special interest in inventory and manufacturing software for small businesses. Charlie is a Certified Advanced QuickBooks ProAdvisor with additional certifications for QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Enterprise, as well as being a Xero Certified Partner. Charlie started blogging about QuickBooks in 2008 (Practical QuickBooks) and has been the managing editor and primary writer for the Accountex Report (formerly the Sleeter Report) since 2011. Charlie can be reached at [email protected]

Visit his CCRSoftware web site for information about his QuickBooks add-on products. He is also the author of the California Wildflower Hikes blog.


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