Microsoft Thinks, Sells Outside the Box With Money
Users of Microsoft Money can step off the upgrade treadmill -- and stop worrying about fighting traffic to get to a store when they do buy a new version. Money product manager Chris Jolley wrote in a blog post on Friday that the company would not ship a 2009 edition of this personal-finance application and had also stopped selling boxed copies in stores:
We've decided against releasing a 2009 version of Money Plus boxed product. Microsoft Money Plus distribution efforts will focus on selling software online via download, and we have discontinued traditional box sales of the software at retail. I doubt this surprises many of you, especially those who've discussed with me how annual releases don't make much sense for a product that's in its 17th version.
On one level, these moves make perfect sense. It's not as if personal-finance apps need yearly updates in the first place; the instruments of most people's financial lives change little from one year to the next (aside from the horrifically complicated, insultingly impenetrable tax code). And selling something only as a download can save money and energy all around, provided the file isn't too big.
But on another, Jolley is committing a grave sort of heresy in the personal-finance business. For the past few years, both Microsoft and its competitor Intuit have required customers to buy new versions with "sunset" policies that turn off access to online services -- from account downloads to stock quotes -- for older versions.
How is Microsoft supposed to keep its customers jogging along on the upgrade treadmill without a new version to sell them? Then again, this isn't a complete change of course; in a brief phone interview Tuesday evening, Jolley said Microsoft's sunset rule, its "Online Services Policy", remains unchanged. That could lead to some awkward moments. For example, Money 2007's online support will expire Sept. 1 of next year -- but the only upgrade option for those users will be Money Plus, already over a year old.
I am glad to see Microsoft rethinking the yearly release calendar, but it ought to extend these reforms to its sunset policy.
I don't have any problem with the end of boxed copies; they just take up space at home and waste paper. But I've had broadband for almost a decade now, and I could be a little jaded about all this. Do you care what form your software arrives in?
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