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Trouble Free Cumbersome Installation but unfair e-file scheme (Windows Download Version)
on January 15, 2013
I am posting this review in mid January 2013 to help people who may be trying to decide what tax software and which versions to get. Because of pending tax law interpretations and such, the software recommends that you don't file taxes as of mid-January 2013.
I have been using H&R Block software for at least a decade. Last year I used the boxed software version and the installation was rather frustrating. So this year I got the Windows digital download version. Installation was trouble free with the PC download, but still a bit cumbersome.
If you are not familiar with the Amazon digital download software, here is a rough outline of what happened.
Immediately after you buy, you can begin the download process. First you have to save to your computer an executable that is the downloadable Amazon installer (under 1MB). At this point, it may be a good idea to save open files and close programs.
After you download the downloable Amazon installer, and you run it, it starts downloading the H&R Block installation software (around 50MB). This makes the user interface jumpy, thus the save open files sentence above. This on a quad core Windows 7 desktop. This completed without problems.
Installation takes a few minutes. then you click Finish. Reboot is not needed. Then start the software for the first time. Enter the "key code" (the Amazon Downloader is still open (unless you closed it) and you can get the Keys there. Once this is successful, you can now close the Amazon Downloader. Then you register the software (optional). Then you are prompted to check for updates and surely it finds updates and installs them. This needs to close the H&R Block software, install the updates and restart the H&R Block software.
Then you can start a tax return. If you previously used H&R Block software, you browse the Windows file system to find last year's return and import it. You can also select where to save the current year return. It puts it at a default location by default. Make sure you change it if you have a different file organizing scheme from what Windows thinks you should have. Next you can import data from financial software (if applicable to your case). From here on, you can start entering data, using their interview-format or going directly to the forms if you are a tax guru.
Just like previous years, you get five free federal e-files but zero state e-files. It would be more fair to consumers if you got five free e-files and it would be up to you to select between federal or state! Fix it H&R Block! I took one star away for this.
This version includes a free State program. As of Dec 13 2012, the State software was not ready, but you could enter your state of preference and email address and an email was sent when the state software was ready. State software became available at some point in January 2013. Installation of the State software was smooth after following all the prompts.
Overall, installation was trouble free but still cumbersome. H&R Block uses Install Shield. Installing a program on Windows versus installing one on Android or iOS perhaps is a perhaps good snapshot of why Windows is falling out of favor with consumers.
Usability wise, it is more or less the same good old user interface and work flow of previous years.