Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Microsoft Money

Linzy and I use Microsoft Money 2004 for balancing the checkbook, paying bills, and keeping track of where all the money goes. Its not the best program in the world, but it works just fine.

I've been using the product since around Money 95 (I don't recall if that is what it was called at that point). I haven't bought every year's upgrade, but I've bought most of them. The really twisted part about the upgrade cycle is that I end up more eager for a new version the worse the present year's version is.

For example Money 2003 was a steaming pile of crap. It crashed all the time, sometimes taking data with it, sometimes not. You couldn't use the 'Internet Updates' button on the main page, or it would crash every time. If you used the 'Internet Updates' button on the Portfolio page, then it would only crash maybe 10% of the time. Whenever you entered a paycheck that differed from the saved 'normal' amounts, it always offered to make the 'normal' amount match what your most recent paycheck was for. God help you if you clicked 'yes', because then suddenly the cash flow forecaster no longer worked, and the bills page would crash whenever you tried to enter it. I even tried filing bugs and support requests for these things. Originally I had a slim hope that I might be able to get a fix, since it was 100% reproducible. But, alas the best I could get was a 'salvage' tool that supposedly fixed bad Money files. Yep, that's right, blame the user for being a loyal customer and converting his file year after year. When the salvage tool didn't work (I was shocked, shocked I say, when it didn't), their solution was to start a new money file. That was hardly a solution, since I had spent 7 years compiling all this information into their program, I didn't want to start over.

So, the next fall there I was, first in line for Money 2004 hoping that if I offered another $40 up to help keep BillG at the top of the Forbes list, I might get a personal finance program that would actually work. Now, before you scoff at why I would continue with a somewhat sub-par software system, I seriously considered switching to Quicken for 2004, but it turned out to be significantly more expensive (I think it was like $60-70 for a similar version). So I stuck with the relatively known (and cheaper) Money line of products. And for the record, Money 2004 seems to be reasonably good. Compared to Money 2003, it is practically bullet-proof. Oh, it still crashes (after all they have to protect next years upgrade), but with much less frequency and regularity then the previous years software.

So, given that the worse their software is the more likely I am to have to upgrade, why must I endure endless pop-up ads using a program I paid good money for?

Since about Money 2002, apparently it has become acceptable to pop-up ads for the next version of Money, or for Tax software, or whatever else they think they can milk me for. I mean, I bought this software! Its not like it is a free ad-supported version I downloaded off the internet. Why should I have be bombarded with ads extolling the somewhat slim-looking list of changes in the next version of Money. If you really want me to upgrade, just stop fixing all those bugs I report.

If anything, all these pop-up ads make me less likely to upgrade. Especially when the current version is working (more or less), and the new version is having problems.


Brenden Johnson said...

I like to call that category of applications suck-ware.

Steve Eck said...

Hehe, I wish I had thought of that name. That would have made a great title. Maybe I will add it anyways.