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Microsoft ditches Money Plus update, pulls product from retail

Future of personal finance app unclear, current version to be download only

August 8, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Microsoft Corp. won't update its Money Plus personal finance software, as it has annually for 17 years, and has pulled the program from retail, saying it will now distribute it only electronically, according to postings on the company's support forum.

"The feedback we are hearing is that the incremental updates to the software don't merit a new product every year," the company said in a message added to the Money forum by Bob Peel, a Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional) at the request of Microsoft. "Given this, we have decided against releasing a 2009 version of Money Plus."

The current version will also soon vanish from store shelves, as Microsoft has decided to stop selling boxed copies of the program.

"In response to our retail partners' needs, consumer behavior and business efficiencies, Microsoft is focusing distribution efforts for Microsoft Money Plus software online via download and discontinuing traditional box sales of the software at retail," according to Peel's message.

"Microsoft Money Plus will continue to be available at retail outlets while supplies last. We have stopped shipping new product to retail outlets," the company said.

Microsoft has struggled for years to compete with Intuit Inc. and its Quicken product, which owns the lion's share of the market.

"We weren't surprised," said Scott Gulbransen, an Intuit spokesman when asked for the company's comment on its rival. "More people are now using connected [online] services vs. desktop software, so that part of [Microsoft's decision] makes sense because of the overall shift to online."

Intuit, however, will release its 2009 update shortly, and won't be abandoning that practice anytime soon. "We constantly talk to our customers and see how they use the product, so when we put out an update, it's about making Quicken better and meeting customer needs. As long as we have customers asking for changes or new features, we'll continue to do updates."

In its posted message, Microsoft did not say when it would next update Money Plus, or what its update schedule going forward would look like. Nor did it explicitly promise that a new version would eventually be released, saying that "future release dates [to be determined]."

That left some users with more questions than answers. "The real question is what happens going forward," said Dick Watson on the same support forum in a message posted today. "Will Microsoft offer some service offering to extend online services? Will Microsoft continue support? Will Microsoft continue updates for things like tax law changes?"

Currently, Microsoft sells several editions of Money Plus via download from its Web site, at prices ranging from $49.99 to $89.99.

Microsoft did not immediately reply to requests for additional comment.

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