Microsoft To Run Out Of Money (The Program, That Is)
One of the oldest two-program rivalries in the personal-computing business ended yesterday when Microsoft announced that it would stop selling its Money Plus line of personal-finance applications after June 30.
With banks, brokerage firms and Web sites now providing a range of options for managing personal finances, the consumer need for Microsoft Money Plus has changed. After suspending annual updates of Money Plus in 2008, Microsoft is announcing today that we will no longer offer Microsoft Money Plus for purchase after June 30, 2009.
(What was it that I was just saying about the risks of storing your data in proprietary formats that can be rendered obsolete overnight at a company's whim?)
A frequently-asked-questions page on the Redmond, Wash., software firm's site explains that this announcement covers the entire Money product line, from the $19.99 Money Essentials to the $29.99 Money Plus Home and Business. Existing users will be able to keep using their software as long as they want, but they'll lose access to the online services that provide account-data downloads and bill-payment features no later than Jan. 31, 2011:
For Money Plus Deluxe, Premium and Home & Business customers, online services expire two years after initial activation or Jan. 31, 2011, whichever is earlier; for Money Plus Essentials it is one year after activation or Jan. 31, 2011, whichever is earlier.
At that point, a Money user would have to type in every transaction by hand or manually import downloaded account statements -- turning the program into the rough equivalent of a printed checkbook register with a built-in calculator.
Microsoft's move amounts to a surrender to its longtime competitor Intuit. That Mountain View, Calif. company's Quicken family of programs will be the only big-name application left on the market -- though such lesser-known options as Moneydance and iBank may now win some business from abandoned Money users. But in shelving Money, Microsoft is also surrendering to the increasingly popular Web-based personal-finance applications -- Quicken Online, Mint.com, Wesabe and so on -- that automatically synchronize their records with those of your financial institutions and eliminate the mind-numbing chore of account reconciliation.
I'd like to hear from the Money users out there: Where do you go now? What's your next move?
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