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Perhaps I shouldn't have started something I wasn't ready to finish. First we had a capsule review of Money 2005, mostly because I felt compelled to use this forum, my bought-and-paid-for soapbox, to express my revulsion at that version. Money 2006 came next. It seemed mostly like a very poorly performing and unstable variation on the theme set by M05, so I posted another capsule review. I guess I was hoping that my comments might make a difference in the future direction of the product. Since I did make the transition to Money 2007, I felt I ought to explain my thinking.
So here we are, another fall, another new version of Money. Microsoft calls it Money Plus. After having named Money versions named after the next year for eleven straight versions dating back to Money97, either Microsoft thought we might want a change or something's up. More on that later. First, let's identify our own version of What's New in Money Plus:
If you conclude that there isn't much of consequence new in M+, I'd have to agree. But if you conclude I'm suggesting you skip the annual tithing, let's talk.
It's pretty apparent that Microsoft is tired of the Money application software product. They are mired in a distant--and apparently declining--second place to Quicken in market share for this kind of application software. They've tried all kinds of strategies to increase their market share and/or increase the amount of revenue the product generates. They've tried to convert it into an ad delivery engine or a way to vector us all to MSN Money portal and advertising site. They've all but given the software away in many years--in some years they literally did. All indications we can see is that they've reduced the development budget for it to mere peanuts. (How many times can you claim "great new xxx" when all you did was make a minor change to the UI on the same old features or whack a few bugs?) Still it probably is looking to them like just a cost center for all of that free "support" they provide and for the online services which cost them more money and just get them bad publicity when something breaks.
Many users continue to use old versions for years. In part this is because they see nothing to be gained from going to the newer versions. In part they see the new versions as actively a step down from what they are using. Either way, this has become a self-reinforcing cycle. The Money team can't make a business case for pouring more good money after bad into developing software that won't sell enough copies to turn a profit. So they come out with a "great" new version that is very little different--and rarely "improved" in any way most of us could get excited about--from the one that preceded it.
International versions have been dropped. Pocket Money has been abandoned. The rebates and cross-promotions with TaxCut seem to be declining in significance. It seems to get less shelf space and Sunday insert advertising at retailers each fall.
So what's next? For the pessimistic, there are some signs that the long road of Microsoft Money may be nearing an end. Note that along with the change in naming of the product, there was an addition to the online services policy that referred to possible future offerings of subscription services extensions. Note that they added online activation to ALL Money Plus copies. Note that Money 2005 was sold in the UK without 2005 as part of the name--and there hasn't been a subsequent version released in the UK.
So, whether you want to see Microsoft stay in the game and selling more copies might help or whether you want to keep using Money for as long as possible should this version be the last, I recommend migrating to Money Plus. Take your pick which reason better motivates you to part with the cost of a copy.
Dick Watson, maintainer of this unofficial microsoft.public.money FAQ
Last update: 16 May 2008
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