This umpm FAQ meets Money 2005
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Microsoft released Money 2005 in September of 2004. Money 2005 supported most of the same things Money 2004 supported, but it also introduced many major and minor differences that impact a very large number of questions and answers that were in this unofficial microsoft.public.money FAQ prior to the M05 release. I will attempt to update these as time and energy permit, but there is no assurance I will ever get them all. In particular, the applicable revision information may be suspect if it indicates that an answer is only applicable through M04. Many, but hardly most, of these answers also apply to M05. Many of them also require clarification since M05 moved so many functions.

Worse, Money 2005 added whole new paradigms of use--the ďEssentialĒ modes and the whole model for the Yodlee interface--that work radically different from the twelve prior versions of Money that this FAQ was written to address. I will not use these and will not be in any position to judge good answers from bad in these areas. Indeed, I will not use Money 2005. It is only the second Money upgrade I have ever skipped.

For these reasons, M05 users consulting this resource may find it less useful than users of previous versions are likely to find it. M05-specific questions not treated in "Complaint Department: Money 2005" are probably better addressed to the newsgroup or to Microsoft Support directly.

Thus ends the disclaimer. If you are still interested, hereís more information about how and why I am skipping Money 2005. Do your own due diligence and, as always, YMMV.

After running a copy of M05 Deluxe on my laptop and doing parallel data entry in M04 on my desktop and M05 on the laptop between the 17th of September 2004, and the 6th of October, I decided to exercise the 30-Day Money Back Guarantee and skip M05.

Hereís the ďbrief statementĒ I provided the product returns folks:

Money 2005 provides no significant new features of use to me, increases dependency on the Internet needlessly and surreptitiously, introduces new defects, fixes few of the old defects, includes several annoying arbitrary changes, modifies my data file silently, and appears to be a vehicle tailored more to deliver advertising than to provide a useful tool for financial management to users. It is only the second Money upgrade I have ever passed on.

Here are some associated Q and A:

What does this mean for this umpm FAQ? I will continue to support versions of Money prior to M05 and will, as time and energy permit, update answers where appropriate for M05 differences. There are a large number of minor changes necessary. Several Q&A have been added to a new category "Complaint Department: Money 2005". I have also changed my submissions policy for M05-specific questions: I will carry only very limited M05-specific content. I see no reason to subsidize the Money product group. By all means, open those support cases. They deserve it.

What annoys you the most about M05? Microsoft appears to be abandoning any pretense of supporting users who just want to manage their finances without all of the network dependency. That narrowly beat out my tremendous dislike of the latest dumbing-down of the UI: more busy-ness, more needless mingling of user interface metaphors, the nightmare that used to be Tools|Options, the XXXX1234 account number stupidity in Account List, the random walk of what click opens a browser pointing to some ad-ridden URL and what opens ad-ridden web content in Money and so on. Oh, and the stupid thing canít even display its relatively useless on-line help without being, well, on-line. That would probably be in third place.

But you donít use most of the network stuff, so what if itís there? Some of it canít be avoided. Money updates the quotes every time I start it even though Iíve set the setting telling it not to. On-line help really is. After two weeks I had generally learned how to avoid all of the intermingled MSN content and the ads, but not entirely.

Assuming Money continues on this trend, what will you do going forward? Well, Iíve thought about that a lot. Conversion to Quicken is one possibility, but I didnít start using Money because I thought Quicken was a better product. By all accounts, Quicken has its own share of issues and lots of whatís annoying about M05 is just Microsoft chasing Quicken down the sewer pipe. I guess the worst case is that Iím stuck on M04 for quite some time to come. Whatís the worst thing about that? Well, itís not like Iíll miss out on any bug fixes, thatís for sure. At some point, the quotes will stop. I suppose I can put them in by hand.

Seriously, there must be something you liked about M05, wasnít there? They did fix the ďtax estimator mangled displayĒ problem finally. Beyond that, after three weeks of use, I was hard pressed to identify anything I found improved for my use. That would be merely annoying were it not for the tremendous number of things about it that I find distasteful. I had hopes for the spending average feature cited in the marketing blurbs--until I finally found what it was they were talking about. I was nice not having to type in a product key when installing. They finally removed the creepy ďBillyBob and MaryJo Moneyuserís Home PageĒ stuff.

Surely they must have incorporated something off your wish list? Nope. Not a thing.

What were the annoying arbitrary changes you didnít like? #1 is removing the dual category list option. #2 is the way they changed the 401k Account Update to factor in post-dated transactions already in the register. I was also very annoyed that M05 upgrade elected to mangle my pre-existing categories. Thatís the first time a Money upgrade has ever done that. It was easy enough to undo, but why should I have to? Though it doesnít affect my use, I thought the addition of Credit Card Payments/Transfer as an Expense Category just to confuse the meaning and use of the existing Credit Card Payment and Transfer Special Categories was brain-damaged at best. New users have enough trouble understanding the existing ones--so Microsoft added the new one to further confuse them? What were they thinking?

What would you recommend to people considering an upgrade to M05? Unless the most important thing to you is consolidating the view of your on-line account access or adding on-line access to institutions not previously accessible from Money that Yodlee knows how to break into, Iíd recommend skipping it. For an experienced user, it just doesnít add anything else and it adds what it does at considerable cost in a further burdened UI, removal of other features, and on-line dependence for things as basic as access to on-line--now literally--help. Not to mention the ads. Please, letís not mention the ads.

Can you recommend M05 to new users? No. M05 tries hard to convince them to do things against their interest. Microsoft is using M05 to try to hasten transition to a business model where the users' data is not theirs alone and the whole reason for the product is to vector advertising and marketing to them. Things like the ďfile sharingĒ that isnít and the coupling of Yodlee and MSN Money storage of user data seem to have been developed, marketed, and presented in ways to mask or downplay the dependence on MSN Internet servers and the extent to which Microsoft is asking you to trust them with your data. It foists a model where Microsoft, MSN, the banks and Yodlee control how you manage your finances far more than you do. (I refer to things like the all-or-nothing connectivity model, the enforced deletion of existing data just to sync up, the whole duplicate account mess and so on.) This is a complete reversal from the original Money product. Maybe it is a model that has its place for some users--virtually all of whom havenít adopted Money or Quicken already. But Microsoft shouldnít be trying to hide their intentions and blur the distinction between on-line and off-line content and functions, and they should offer an alternate model for people who donít buy into their vision. Yes, the alternate model is still there, more or less. No, they arenít making it accessible and they are trying very hard to make it appear that there really is no other way to use the product than their new way. If all a user wants is to ďStop typing!Ē and have ďThe effortless wayĒ to manage their personal finances, theyíd be better off to just skip worrying about it entirely.

Isnít this just a protest vote? There is some component of that. Iíll admit it. But Iím not interested in personal financial management just so Microsoft can better target marketing in my direction. Nor, I dare say, are most other users. If we just roll over and take this, thatís what weíre headed for: just being targets for marketing, not software customers. Iím also not interested in using some future version of Money that is nothing more than a minimal value add, completely web-based, sold by subscription model, MSN-oriented skin on something like Yodlee. More clearly than ever before, thatís where Microsoft Wants Money To Go Today.

Will this protest be effective? In the short haul, maybe a little. In the long haul, probably not.

Dick Watson, maintainer of this unofficial microsoft.public.money FAQ

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Last update: 9 January 2007

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