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Microsoft Says Goodbye to Money

Microsoft quietly revealed Wednesday afternoon that it plans to cut off sales of its long-running Microsoft Money Plus product as of the end of June.

"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" said a posting on the Money Website.

Additionally, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) cautioned that any Money Plus products need to be activated before Jan. 31, 2011.

Microsoft said discontinuing the 17-year-old Money products resulted from changes in the market for personal financial software.

"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," a Q&A that accompanied the notice said.

As of July 1, Microsoft Essentials, Money Plus Deluxe, Money Plus Premium and Money Plus Home & Business will no longer be available for sale.

Microsoft will continue to provide services to users until Jan. 31. 20011. Consumers can continue to use their Money products, without the benefit of the services, for as long as they wish after that date, the Q&A said.

What that means, however, is that purchasers of packages that come with two years of services will not receive the full two years. Instead, the Money services end on Jan. 31, 2011. Gone will be bill paying, stock quotes, online banking, and tech support as of that date.

The company entered the personal financial software market with Money in the early 1990s, but was always an also ran in a tough competition with industry leader Intuit (NASDAQ: INTU) and its Quicken, QuickBooks, and TuboTax products.

Microsoft's cleaning house

What may have triggered the end of the dynasty for such a long-running Microsoft product is the recession. Since October the company has been eliminating, spinning off, and selling products that aren't living up to potential for one reason or another.

In fact, last week, analyst firm Directions on Microsoft issued a report describing 13 products or services that the software giant has cut just since October.

Microsoft's Q&A provides information on users' access to services as well as procedures for performing some functions, such as updating Money Plus with tax rate data manually, after services stop.