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Figuring out why Quickbooks would not come up for me

I wasn't able to bring up Quickbooks Pro 2003 this morning after a system reboot. I did find a bypass after about a half hour, and am posting here in hopes that this will help someone else having the same problem, and maybe save that person the cost of Intuit tech support.
These were the symptoms (Windows XP Pro on IBM Thinkpad T40).
  • When I started it the first time, I could log in. It popped up a dialog box prompting whether to enter a memorized transaction I had set up. I clicked the “Now” button.
  • The Company Navigator screen was displayed.
  • All of the button bar icons were grayed out, as was the program title bar. Nothing on the main screen of the program was clickable, including the Windows buttons to minimize, maximize, or shut down the application..
  • I tried logging out, but the shutdown sequence got stuck trying to dismiss Quickbooks. At some point I got a prompt indicating that there was a modal dialog box which had to be dismissed before the program could be shut down.
  • I had to use the Task Manager to bring Quickbooks down forcibly.
  • Restarting Quickbooks did not show the prompt for memorized transactions, but the rest of the behavior and the program lockup still happened. Logging out of Windows, restarting, and cold boot did not affect the behavior.
  • Instead of bringing up my usual company file, I went to the Quickbooks Pro directory and double clicked the sample_service-based business.qbw file. It showed the warning dialog not to use this as your company file, then the Company Navigator. The gray title bar and button bar occurred here also and the screen was unresponsive. This indicated that the problem was not with my company file, but with Quickbooks itself.
I found the bypass to the behavior through the Intuit site at the support page titled Starting QuickBooks when you cannot open a company file (KB ID#: 200813). I made a copy of my original company file, started Quickbooks with the Ctrl key pressed down, browsed to the copy, then opened it and logged in with the Alt key pressed down. At this point I saw the modal dialog in question — it was a prompt from Intuit concerning upgrading to Premier or one of their other versions, and it came up before the Company Navigator or any other windows. I dismissed the dialog and the copy of the company file came up normally. Then I switched back to the original company file, and that came up normally also.
I do not know whether the problem was caused by the system problems I had yesterday, the memorized transaction, or the time of year occasioning the ad from Intuit to upgrade.
Originally published: 2005/04/08 08:01:50
Previously published: Fri Apr 8 07:02:24 2005