TurboTax: So What Do I Do Now?

By Jim Louderback  |  Posted 2003-02-12 Print this article Print

Opinion: The test results are in, and the dust has settled. Intuit's TurboTax has some real DRM flaws. But they're not fatal, at least not for everyone.

Like many of you, Ive been avidly following the DRM dust-up between Intuit and unhappy TurboTax customers. And because I edit ExtremeTech, Ive had a professional as well as a personal interest in the outcome. While I shared the outrage of ExtremeTech members, I knew it was important that we do a thorough and impartial job of separating fact from fiction. But along with my technical interest in how Intuit did (or did not) implement Macrovisions SafeCast, Ive had a more personal stake. For the last seven years Ive been a faithful user of Intuits Quicken and TurboTax products. I live my financial life mostly through Quicken, and then every year I feed my tax data right to TurboTax – it makes filling out those IRS forms a breeze. But as the story developed, I wasnt so sure about this year – could I have turbo-ed my last tax return?
Before my recommendations on what you should do, its probably worthwhile to review how we got where we are today – with hours and hours of exhaustive lab testing, thousands of angry messages from users, and finally, significant changes from Intuit in how TurboTax is protected and used.
Turn the page for an in-depth time-line of how the TurboTax / SafeCast problems first surfaced, and what Intuit has done so far to address the problems. If you just want to know whether to use TurboTax or not, head right to our What Should I Do section.

With more than 20 years experience in consulting, technology, computers and media, Jim Louderback has pioneered many significant new innovations.

While building computer systems for Fortune 100 companies in the '80s, Jim developed innovative client-server computing models, implementing some of the first successful LAN-based client-server systems. He also created a highly successful iterative development methodology uniquely suited to this new systems architecture.

As Lab Director at PC Week, Jim developed and refined the product review as an essential news story. He expanded the lab to California, and created significant competitive advantage for the leading IT weekly.

When he became editor-in-chief of Windows Sources in 1995, he inherited a magazine teetering on the brink of failure. In six short months, he turned the publication into a money-maker, by refocusing it entirely on the new Windows 95. Newsstand sales tripled, and his magazine won industry awards for excellence of design and content.

In 1997, Jim launched TechTV's content, creating and nurturing a highly successful mix of help, product information, news and entertainment. He appeared in numerous segments on the network, and hosted the enormously popular Fresh Gear show for three years.

In 1999, he developed the 'Best of CES' awards program in partnership with CEA, the parent company of the CES trade show. This innovative program, where new products were judged directly on the trade show floor, was a resounding success, and continues today.

In 2000, Jim began developing, a daily, live, 8 hour TechTV news program called TechLive. Called 'the CNBC of Technology,' TechLive delivered a daily day-long dose of market news, product information, technology reporting and CEO interviews. After its highly successful launch in April of 2001, Jim managed the entire organization, along with setting editorial direction for the balance of TechTV.

In the summer or 2002, Jim joined Ziff Davis Media to be Editor-In-Chief and Vice President of Media Properties, including ExtremeTech.com, Microsoft Watch, and the websites for PC Magazine, eWeek and ZDM's gaming publications.


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