Last year, Microsoft decided to stop selling its Money personal finance software and announced that no future updates to the software will be available. Existing Money Plus customers can continue to use the software and access online services (such as data sync with MSN Money or statement downloads) until their copy expires on Jan. 31, 2011. At that time Microsoft also announced that it will soon be releasing a “Sunset” version of Money Plus that will not require online activation and will not have an expiry date.
Recently, Microsoft made good on that promise and made Sunset versions of Money Plus Deluxe and Money Plus Home & Business available for download (here and here). Here’s the surprise: you do not have to be a current Money user or provide proof of purchase of any earlier version of Money to download and install the Sunset version. That’s very good news if you are looking for free personal finance software and have been frustrated with competing offerings such as GNU Cash. Though the Sunset versions do not offer online services such as portfolio updates, a number of home brew hacks are already available (such as this one called PocketSense) that update stock price information from financial websites.
If you are a current user of Money Plus, you may want to wait until Jan. 31, 2011 to install the sunset version of Money. If you are still running an earlier version of Money, make sure you first backup the Money file before installing and trying out the Sunset version. Better yet, try out the Sunset version by installing it in an entirely different machine and copying over your current Money data file.
Microsoft deserves a pat for making a fine personal finance product available for free for anyone to download. It would have been even more wonderful if Microsoft had made the Money source code available to the open source community to continue to develop and improve.