2004 --> 2007 & payroll (yes, i think i've become an idiot)

Help - Intuit has successfully made me recognize I'm an idiot. I'm hoping for sane, hopefully non-sarcastic, friendly advice. I realize this makes me
a target for some of the clever folks in the newsgroup, but beggars can't be choosers.
I do the day-to-day bookkeeping for my wife's business - a small hair salon. She has an accountant that does the quarterlies & annual using reports I give to him. I been using QB for the last 6 years - most recently QB2004 Basic, to keep the records and do the weekly payroll. The number of active employees varies between 1 and 4, but is usually 2 or 3. Over the course of a year there've been as many as 9.
The machine I use runs XP Home SP2 with 1GB and tons of disk space. My "do-it-yourself" payroll subscription is paid until 8/07.
Every time I look at the various upgrade options, I walk away with a headache.
Please -- someone advise me as to the least-cost way to continue doing what I've been doing - record & pay bills, payroll & provide the accountant the reports needed for him to complete the quarterlies & annual tax forms.
TIA. Les Wichtel fossil snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com
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fossil_2u wrote:

Sometimes the profit of a business doesn't cover the costs of running a business. Take a couple of Tylenol and tell us what choices you are considering. Keep in mind that Intuit is a typical public company that must show revenue growth of 10%+ a year so all products they offer must have a short service life so they can generate repeat sales.

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Allan & Golden California Girls,
Thanks for the directness. I've taken 4 Ibuprofen, and feel up to continuing.
Allan, Not that you need my permission, but feel free to fire away. I've appreciated your directness responses to dealing with others, so we'll see if I can take it.
Golden California Girls - The business is entirely my wife's - I have my own job-and-a-half. I don't mix in as to the running of HER business. The only exception is computer software/hardware. All other business decisions are hers, including the "keep it / close it". I can say there are certain intangibles that get figured into it besides the pure dollars & cents. I just help her as she requests. So far, for the last 6 years, it's been to do the day-to-day record keeping & payroll. As long as she's happy, that's good enough for me.
Allan & Golden California Girls, On to the matter at hand.
The immediate option presented from Intuit is to upgrade to QB 2007 Pro because they tell me QB 2004 Basic will terminate operation on 4/31/07.
What I read about QB 2007 Pro says it's "not recommended" for XP HOME. The machine I currently use has XP Home SP2. I'd like to avoid upgrading the OS. I'm not looking don't use any networking feature for QB other than to get updates over the internet. I'm hoping QB 2007 will work, but would like to know what experience others might have reported. I figure others have tried, but in reviewing the 27K+ articles my server has for the group, I didn't see anything on the subject.. If there's a problem, I could switch to a different machine elsewhere in the house that has XP Pro, but I'd rather know before starting.
Question 1 - Have you any information to share about QB 2007 Pro (and/or Payroll) running on XP Home?
When it comes to purchasing QB2007Pro , the current upgrade price seems to be $170.
Question 2 - Any suggestions as to where to purchase the QB 2007 Pro upgrade?
Next comes the issue of payroll. I currently prepare the payroll using QB2004 do-it-yourself, getting only the tax tables from Intuit. The subscription expires in 8/2007. The pay is based on a combination of hours worked and commissions. I enter the hours work & commissionable amounts into QB2004 payroll and print paystubs. She writes the checks by hand. At the end of the quarter, I generate liability reports & the accountant does the forms. My wife writes the liability checks by hand. I use QB2004 to "pay liabilities", adjusting the amounts where necessary to match the account's forms. The adjustments are minor, usually just pennies on the company-paid items. The information from Intuit seems to indicate that payroll is no longer directly available within QB2007 & a new QB Payroll package needs to be purchased. I'm hoping they will refund/prorate/credit the unused portion of my current payroll subscription. Going forward, there appear to be two options appropriate for me - Basic & Standard. Basic allows up to 3 employees. There's no mention of a limitation for Standard. Her business has never had more than 3 simultaneously active employees, but in the course of a year, because of turnover, there've almost always been more - up to 7 in a year. I haven't been able to get anyone on the phone at Intuit to commit to telling me if the Basic limit of 3 applies to simultaneously active employees, or to an annual total of employees, or to a total number of employees over the lifetime of the software. They just repeat, "Basic is good for 3 employees and has limited functions. You should buy the Standard version because it is a better product." - hehehe. Available information says Basic & Standard can be upgraded, with credit, to Enhanced, but again - no one will tell me if there's a Basic to Standard upgrade with credit. I don't feel Enhanced is needed since I don't do the forms, but would consider it, based on your responses.
I read about "Payroll Plus". Even though it's shown under the Standard column, http://quickbooks.intuit.com/product/add_ons/payroll_software_and_services/standard.jhtml I think that's a typo. Everything else indicates that it requires Enhanced, and includes QB 2007 Pro for a limited time. But I'm not sure what Payroll Plus includes. In the write-up for Payroll Plus, it says: If you choose the "Plus" option ... your Payroll subscription will include future QuickBooks financial software upgrades, delivered to you every time there is a new release. You'll have access to the latest QuickBooks and Payroll features and functionality-at a substantial discount! Order now and get a free copy of QuickBooks 2007 and ongoing, automatic software upgrades with Enhanced Payroll Plus..."
Question 3 - Does that mean Basic & Standard do not get software maintenance updates? or is it saying updates to new versions of QB & Payroll are included? or - most likely - something else?
(this is where those Ibuprofen need a boost! perhaps Wild Turkey 101 or Jameson's is called for?)
Once the feature set is determined, it comes down to $$$$. Since I expect to be able to use this for 3 years, the TCO can be estimated using current costs (but will probably increase over time): QB 2007 Pro upgrade is $170 (unless you point me to a less costly source) with Basic Payroll - $69 year one & $99 years 2 & 3 = $437. with Standard Payroll - $149 year one & $199 years 2 & 3 = $717. with Enhance Payroll - $199 year one & $299 years 2 & 3 = $967 Enhance Payroll Plus, which includes QB 2007 Pro - $299 year one & $399 years 2 & 3 = $1097
If there's a "pay the difference" upgrade from Basic to Standard, I'd think basic is the way to go. If no upgrade path, then I'd think Standard is the path to choose. The extra $380 for Enhanced+Payroll Plus over Standard doesn't seem worthwhile.
Question 4 - In your opinion which QB Payroll option, Basic or Standard or Enhanced (w/wo Payroll Plus), is best suited for the situation?
I'm going to have my "extra medicine in a glass" & check back later. Once again, I appreciate your taking the time to respond.
Les Wichtel fossil snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com

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Perhaps the next set of Ibuprofen needs a vodka chaser.
I'm a user not an adviser; I'm just a user who is pushing Premiere out to its limits.
For inexpensive software I would suggest costco.com if you are a member. If not I believe there are several search for the lowest price search engines that should point you in the correct direction.
As for payroll, you might consider a call to Paychex or ADP to see what an outside service would charge and remember that they fill out the quarterly forms so you can save the cost of the accountant when you compare prices. Your bank may also offer a payroll service at a discount.
As for the phrase "not recommended" I believe that means that you can expect slow performance rather than any sections that don't function. It may also be that in their experience many "Home" machines lack the RAM and processor speed to run SlowBooks effectively.
Sorry I can't answer your questions, but perhaps someone else in the group will.
fossil_2u wrote:

http://quickbooks.intuit.com/product/add_ons/payroll_software_and_services/standard.jhtml
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Another low cost payroll solution is Paycycle. Most people find it cheaper than ADP or paychex who both nickel and dime you for every little thing they do for you. Paycycle does not plus it downloads into QB.

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