Let's get something out of the way to start. If you are starting up a new business or are new to QuickBooks, you should be heavily biased towards QuickBooks Online. It is getting more development focus from Intuit, is available anywhere, and has pretty good support. It is reasonable to expect that, in the near future, QuickBooks Online will be QuickBooks, and the desktop version will go away.
So with that out of the way, who should use QuickBooks Desktop?
QuickBooks Desktop still has a larger base of installations than QuickBooks Online for a lot of reasons. For starters, people who have been using QuickBooks for a long time (“power users”) will encounter limitations that will likely be frustrating. Many of these limitations will be around the reporting features and working with batches (for things like creating invoices, entering transactions, and timesheets). Everyone uses QuickBooks differently, so it is hard to say what will matter to you, of course.
Another point that may cause you to use the Desktop version is related to 3rd party software integrations. QuickBooks Online has over 300 integration partners available, but there are definitely some that only work (or only work *well*) with the desktop version. Normally, these are the ones that work with other on-premise software. If all of your other applications are already in the cloud, chances are that QuickBooks Online is a better choice for you.
QuickBooks Desktop is also available in many different flavors that provide industry-specific features. QuickBooks Online, however, is only available in a general purpose edition. If you are a contractor, and you need job costing features, Desktop is the way to go. Ditto for Point of Sale environments or manufacturing.
Any time you look at changing an accounting package, a wise business owner will look at more than just the cost of the software. There are few components as central to the smooth running of your business as your accounting package. The decision should be made carefully, and with the advice of a trusted partner who has experience with the various options. Call us today if you want to talk about your options!