In this issue, Wayne Thorp puts the two top personal finance programs through their paces in a head-to-head comparison of the latest versions of Microsoft Money and Intuit’s Quicken. Both are powerful programs that attempt to offer a complete array of tools for budgeting, planning financial goals, tracking income and expenses, and managing and researching your portfolio.
Wayne examines the strengths and weakness of each program and highlights the integration of Internet data into both programs.
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Microsoft and Intuit compete fiercely against each other and offer annual upgrades to draw in new users and try to get users to switch from one program to the other. While it is debatable whether the current version of either program offers a compelling reason to switch from one program to the other, users of both Quicken and Money benefit from the competition.
Microsoft is a tough rival with deep pockets and a long-term perspective, so it is not surprising that it offers such a high-quality product after pursing this product category for nearly 10 years. What is surprising is that Intuit has been able to compete so strongly against Microsoft for so long.
Most individuals have forgotten that Intuit agreed to be acquired by Microsoft in the mid 1990s. Microsoft’s version of Money at the time was not making any significant dent in Intuit’s market share dominance, so it tried to buy the competition out. The government denied approval of the merger, forcing Microsoft to continue to develop Money internally and live with real competition. Microsoft would have sold off Money to Novell to help maintain a competitive environment on paper, but it is tough to imagine that we would still have two dominant products in this category if the merger had obtained government approval.Personal finance software is an attractive product category because it offers a platform to sell a wide range of financial products and services. Money and Quicken offer their users a wide array of products—including credit cards, insurance, brokerage services, and even tax filing. As revealed in Wayne’s article, the links between software and financial institutions have grown even stronger with this year’s versions. Fortunately, the programs retain their functionality even if you don’t use a preferred vendor.
Whether you use Quicken or Money, you will want to make the most of the Internet tools and integration the programs now offer. Be sure to read the article to see how these programs take advantage of on-line resources to assist in your financial planning and analysis.