Monday, April 28, 2008

PC Pro Campaign - Forum Posting of my thoughts

PC Pro's campaign for a new version of Money is gathering some pace, as they've received 400 emails from people wanting a new version. Although I'm doubtful this will change the minds of the Microsoft people who make these decisions, it is an interesting story to follow.

I decided to answer a couple of questions and put my thoughts together (you may not agree with them, that's fine ;-)). Here's what I posted to their forum:

When Quicken pulled out of the UK market 6 or 7 years ago, it seemed that the writing was on the wall for Microsoft Money over here. Little competition meant that Microsoft didn't need to do much to make the product succeed.

Since that time, some new competition has emerged (personal accountz for one), but this isn't big enough to worry Microsoft, and duly we see a lack of new product for 3.5 years

In the US, things are different, not only with competition (I believe Quicken is #1 there) but also with banks competing with each other. You see a product which is being developed for the US market - integration with banks being an area where banks feel they 'have' to be as all of their competitors are doing it. Money is following this over there, and is being driven for the desires of that audience and not ours.

This isn't to say there aren't new features: Since the last version in the UK (Money 2005, released in 2004), the product has had tighter integration with US account aggregation services (Yodlee/CashEdge), a new budget, better backup and the reintroduction of the toolbar tool (now known as 'Insights'). The latter 3 parts would be of benefit to the UK, but one would wonder how much?

I noticed one post above commenting about the Financial Insitutions - I doubt many of them really care that much about the data export - it's a direct cost to them and probably doesn't bring in any significant business. It may just be us current users who cause it to continue to be provided.

Of course there is code clean up so it's a lot less buggy than 2005 and doesn't have that annoying patch that is required when installing.

So, would they bring it to the UK? The longer time goes on, the more work is required to regionalise the functionality because of the new features. The more work, the more cost. Economically, they may be able to do it, but this might mean a download-only version, to reduce costs of artwork, printing etc. It might not win them many friends at some of the retail stores.

One thing to note that it is possible to get hold of the US version in the UK (see
FAQ Article 535), but you cannot directly convert from the UK to the US version (you have to go through hoops of exporting as QIF and then importing it). I doubt many people are prepared to do that, unless their files are small. The US product does work here (although the Nationwide integration would not) - I use this version.

I've been involved with the US and UK Money teams through the Microsoft MVP program for about 9 years now. In that time, I've seen 7 UK products come through. Each year I ask myself 'are there enough new or updated features that can justify upgrading?'. In many years, it's been a 'no'. Currently, based on the US SKU, it might once again be 'yes'.

For those of you wanting the history, see the latest article (April 25th) and the Open Letter to Microsoft.

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