The End Of Microsoft Money: Big Company Doesn't Always Win

from the welcome-to-competition dept

There’s a disturbing trend in various discussions we have here (especially on patent discussions) where people seem to insist that big companies automatically win in competitive environments. Yet, especially in the tech space, we’ve seen that it’s often quite difficult for big companies to do that. Smaller companies are often more innovative and effective at taking on big companies. The idea that some big company can just copy someone else’s product and automatically take over the market is clearly wrong. Does it happen sometimes? Sure. But as has been noted by many folks, if your product is truly innovative, you’ll often have to beg people for attention, rather than worrying about anyone copying it.

A great example of this is the failure of Microsoft Money. The company has now announced that it’s going to discontinue the product despite years of effort and millions of dollars spent to try to defeat Intuit’s Quicken product. In fact, the saga of the battle between Intuit and Microsoft highlights (yet again) that it wasn’t so much the invention part that allowed Intuit to win the battle, but the innovative way in which Intuit kept and grew marketshare. In an interview with, the guy who ran Microsoft Money for a few years, noted that Intuit beat Money because they did a better job with the marketing.

Meanwhile, of course, it’s worth noting that Intuit itself is now facing upstart challenges from web-focused startups like Mint and Wesabe, and some believe the company is discovering in its own way how smaller, more nimble startups can succeed against larger entrenched interests. Innovation is an interesting beast. The idea that big companies can always defeat smaller ones has been disproved many times — but here’s yet another example.

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Companies: intuit, microsoft

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Comments on “The End Of Microsoft Money: Big Company Doesn't Always Win”

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CommonSense (profile) says:

Re: Success Relativity

Not quite… The small companies win, and their prize is that they get to then become a big company. Then another small company will kick their ass, and thus continues the cycle that free market capitalism is designed for.

And Dark Helmet, being strongly pro-small business shouldn’t keep your brain from processing facts correctly… Intuit started out a small company, and was very triumphant, which led to those 2008 figures you site. There’s no real way you could call them a small company today, but if you read the post, you’d see that’s not what Mike is trying to say.

Pedro says:

yeah right, intuit is innovative. They make some of the crappiest software I have ever used. They win because they lock up the banks with a proprietary download format. Plus in the accounting space QuickBooks owns it because “all your accountants are belong to us”

Don’t even get me started on their Mac support.

Anonymous Coward says:

I think intuit was large and well established to a good degree before MS tried to compete with them, so I don’t see it is as valid evidence that truly small, independent developers aren’t screwed over more often simply because they don’t have the backup.

Case in point is that article posted a while back about emergency medical dispatch:

PRMan (profile) says:

Why Money lost...

Everyone I know that used Microsoft Money for a while has the same question…

“How do I get all my data out of Microsoft Money?”

Nobody has an easy answer for them. Quicken strives to be interoperable. Money strives for vendor lock-in, as is usual for Microsoft.

People hate it when their financial data is locked up.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Why Money lost...

I’ve never had a problem exporting from Money, my data as either XLS sheets or in CVS format. Quickbooks on the other hand things that as long as it displays a static image on the screen of a “report”, that is called exporting of all your data.

And intuit forcing me to upgrade my software or else it wont work anymore? QB2005 worked just fine for me, so why should I have to switch to QB2007 and needlessly be required to learn a whole new interface while I’m at it. Talk about wasted productivity. I bet Microsoft has no problems letting the consumer continue to use Office2000 still today – they may not like that I haven’t upgraded to Office2007 yet, but at least they haven’t forced me to do so.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Why Money lost...

Quicken strives to be interoperable?! Only with other Intuit software. Granted I haven’t used MS Money in the last 4 years, but it was always easy to export out of it. I only switched to Quicken so I could provide software support to my Mother. I hate Quicken. Next time they try to force us to upgrade, we are moving to something else. (Even if it is back to the older version of Money.)

vjc says:

Re: Re: Why Money lost...

Thanks for the tip, NPGMBR. How did you learn about this program that Microsoft is developing with Intuit to transfer data? As a long term Money user, I would like to know more about it. It’s obvious to me that it won’t be long before Money won’t function at all, and I’ll need another program to replace it. Transferring all that data is just plain scary. Alternatives don’t look real good right now.

Penguinista says:

No Linux Version = Begining of the End?

Intuit still doesn’t offer Linux versions of their programs, and while it may be easy for them to pretend the marketshare of Linux is too small now to bother with, the unfortunate side effect is freeware and commercial editions of financial software are being developed by small shops who will then proceed to eat Intuit’s lunch.

It may take years, like it has taken for Intuit itself to defeat Microsoft Money, but unless they take small markets seriously–especially markets which cater to developers, like Linux does–Intuit will one day discover that objects in the rear view mirror are closer than they appear only after they’ve been overtaken by competition they didn’t know was there!

Steve R. (profile) says:

Intuit = Crap

I have been a long time user of Quicken. That product does not demonstrate innovation. Quicken is an example of a marketing department that has run amok.

The product was innovative when first introduced and had a few good years as a reputable company. Since it was acquired by Intuit, it has been the same stagnant product for many years. Unfortunately, real competitors have not stepped in. I often have wondered why? (TruboTax is just as bad with consistent reminders to buy/upgrade.)

Quicken has gone beyond rational marketing. They accost the public with ceaseless marketing. There are even adds in Quicken for buying Quicken which I consider very offensive. In fact, I was once greeted with a Quicken advertisement when I opened the program!

Quicken was a product that was innovative when first introduced. The original programmers, I would say developed a good product. As such, that is why I still use it. However, since being acquired by Intuit any real development has ceased and it is simply be milked by Intuit as a cash cow.

In conclusion, this is not a case of one company being more innovative than another, but which company is most inept at marketing.

slacker525600 (profile) says:

outspent in marketing,

I read that interview yesterday, and the microsoft viewpoint was that intuit basically just spent as much money as possible pushing their product “He made Quicken a household name. He spent outrageous dollars to get there.” Although it could be said that this was *better* marketing, in the end a truly small company never would have had the cash to push a giant like microsoft out of the way.

CopyJosh (profile) says:


Quicken was definitely more successfully marketed than Microsoft Money, in fact, I do not believe I have ever seen a single televised commercial advertising the product. However, you do see plenty of Quicken ads running around; and that Quicken hasn’t kicked off a Linux version yet isn’t surprising. If you take the perspective of their ad campaigns, their target audience doesn’t even use Linux.

We’re talking about barely-capable individuals making the leap from printed records to digital. They’re not downloading freeware, they’re purchasing off the shelf, physical boxes of what they see as (and which actually is) reliable software – for Windows.

They may take a plunge soon as web based apps are on the rise, but really if they combined a web application with their already released software, this would be a plus for current customers, and future ones. The current ones now able to upload their information to the web application, and new ones… well, they get a web app.

Steve R. (profile) says:

Re: Marketing

Quicken will never develop a LINUX version, they are a very proprietary company. (I actually think that the original programmers where somewhat “open” as there were options that let you export/import data. This ability seems to have been somewhat, but not completely, disabled.)

They also pursue very disingenuous business strategies. For example, they advertise that you can use their product free for XX days and if you don’t like it, you can return it. Well it turns out that if you “upgrade” to the new version and don’t like it, you can NOT, I repeat, you can NOT go back to the old version. So unless you make a back-up before you “upgrade” you are screwed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

thank you! i have never heard of Microsoft’s “Accounting Professional” before now. Intuit is pushing me to upgrade to their QB Pro 2009 software for $199 and then another $199 for their TaxTables.

Over 6 years, now I am in to them for over $1,000 and now $199 for next next year’s tax tables. The TaxTables started out only being $49 a year – what changed?!!

Already, I am not too happy about every time I open a new company, the software wants to shove marketing advertisements and solicitations for irrelevant services on to me. FOR THE HUNDREDTH TIME–NO, MY COMPANY DOESN’T NEED A WEBSITE HOSTED OR MANAGED BY YOU, INTUIT!

Along with that and how long it takes to perform a “Updating Quickbooks” patch randomly throughout the week (which can take sometimes between 30 seconds and 15+ minutes) even before the program will open my data.

Also, never give Intuit your back account number because they will literally extract funds from your account without your authorization. I am currently in the process of fighting Intuit to REFUND my money that they removed from my account without authorization. I ordered TaxTables for 2009 and they charged me for them – TWICE. First time was the same day I was on the phone with their sales office and the second time was 2 whole months later – for no reason at all, they felt that the details in my account with them that say I already have the up to date TT files, needed them to charge me again for the same files.

And when they constantly tell you to backup your data, they are not kidding! On a PC that is used primarily for Quickbooks accounting, MS Word & Excel files, The Quickbooks software will display “database server error” at least once a month – Despite the fact that the PC is on a batery backup to avoid any power serge, the hard drive is weekly checked thoroughly for errors (not a single error ever was reported) and Quickbooks always gets shut down after each daily usage.

Steve R. (profile) says:

Re: Re: Quick Books

Anonymous Coward asked “The TaxTables started out only being $49 a year – what changed?!!”

I have never used Quick Books, but at one time, when your subscription lapsed to the TaxTables, you used to be able to manually update them. It is my understanding (based on various posts) that manually updating these files was DISABLED as a means of forcing you to buy a subscription. Intuit is NOT an innovative consumer friendly company.

Whether Intuit once again allows you to manually update the TaxTables is unknown to me.

Marge Geneverra (profile) says:

Alternatives to Money

Alternatives for a Money user with a lot of data are not good!

Conversion to Quicken does not work, especially if one uses a lot of Money features, like budgets, portfolio, bill pay, etc. Basic bank accounts may convert, but not much more. People with thousands of transactions in brokerages, mortgages, 401Ks, budgeting, etc. are out of luck.

Online services like Mint are way too risky for me! I’d never put all of my personal and financial information, along with account numbers & passwords, in one place on some web site. A hackers dream! Asking for disaster!

Linux has nothing. GnuCash is awful. A spreadsheet is better.

My ideal solution would be either for Microsoft to sell Money to a company that wants to continue it, or for Quicken to create a Money converted that is rock solid and works. Extra credit if they port to Linux. Money is one of the only reasons that I stayed on Windows. Everything else I could do on Linux.

Matt Henley (profile) says:


>Linux has nothing. GnuCash is awful. A spreadsheet is better.

My experience has been different than yours. I switched to GnuCash in Dec07 and spent a little time to learn it and for managing my expenses and budgets it has worked very well. It has no problem with downloading files from my bank and once I understood double entry accounting it makes a lot of sense to me.

Where I haven’t figured it out it with my Investment accounts, but then I haven’t spent to work that out.

Note that I did not try to import accounts, I had quit tracking my finances for several years. I just found a good starting point and worked from there.


Yakko Warner says:

Reluctantly switched a year ago

I was a long-time user of MS Money. I think I started in ’95 or so, when I had a free trial or something, after using Quicken for a couple years. I was a pretty satisfied user up until about 2006 and even spent the cash to upgrade the product every couple years or so.

However, I started to be very disappointed with it. The product kept getting slower and slower, to the point where I could watch my CPU usage hit 100% for several minutes and the program would take up to a minute to respond to a mouse click.

Two things made me stick with it. One was the fact that I could not easily export my data. (Yes, you can export into the “standard” Quicken format, but I’ll get to that in a moment.) The other is that, every other program I tried, the UI just wasn’t as easy to use as Money.

What finally broke my loyalty was when the program started insisting that I sign up to access my account information from the web. This started out as a feature, where you could use a Passport (or Live ID or whatever they call it these days) to secure your Money data file, but it would also let you access your accounts from anywhere on the web. Well, it didn’t take a genius to figure out that in order to access that info from a random web browser, it had to be stored on a web server. I didn’t want to upload my financial data to their servers; I was perfectly happy to access all of my data from the relative security of my desktop machine.

Well, at some point, and I’m not exactly sure precisely when, the program refused to allow me to add internet access to any more accounts unless I gave it Passport credentials and signed up for this service. That is, when some vendor had a data leak and MasterCard had to change my credit card number and send me a new card, I added that card to Money, but I could not connect it to download transactions from MasterCard unless I signed up for the “access Money from the web” service I did not want.

That was the end of that.

I bought Quicken (because I still found the free programs lacked the stability and maturity of the ones developed by a paid R&D team), and I began the long and painful process of transferring my data. Yes, there is a step-by-step process, but when it was done, I found that investment transactions were off, balances didn’t match, and categories were completely rearranged. (Examples: while I used to have a “Groceries:Food” and “Pet Care:Food”, it merged all food into “Pet Care:Food”, so apparently I spent nothing on food for the family and everything on the pets; “Insurance” became a subcategory of “Healthcare”, so I now have “Healthcare:Insurance:Life”, “Healthcare:Insurance:Auto”, “Healthcare:Insurance:Health”; I also now have two completely separate sets of tax categories, one that Quicken created and likes to use and one that was imported from Money, that don’t quite match up and I can’t just merge.) The worst offenders seemed to be transfers between accounts (e.g. bill payments from checking to credit cards), that would for some reason appear twice (although not all the time). I spent a week with both Money and Quicken open side-by-side until I finally got the balances in Quicken to match. Categories are still a mess compared to what they were, but I managed to clean up the most used ones and haven’t been terribly motivated to fix everything else (it’s “good enough”).

After using Quicken for over a year now, I still find its interface clunky compared to Money. Microsoft’s UI was just so much easier to deal with. I really hoped Intuit would learn from it; but it seems they no longer have a reason to now.

Anonymous Coward says:

“it’s worth noting that Intuit itself is now facing upstart challenges from web-focused startups like Mint and Wesabe, and some believe the company is discovering in its own way how smaller, more nimble startups can succeed against larger entrenched interests.”

Sort of an expected dig by someone who thinks that all things web are better than all things “real”.

Startups are always more “nimble”, until they have to actually support clients, and then they become as bureaucratic and lost as the big guys, and the battle is over. Accounting isn’t like the latest music, the accounting world appreciates stability, not wild course changes. Nimble isn’t exactly what they are looking for, more like reliable, widely accepted, easily used by your auditors / year end financial accounting, etc.

Nimble indeed.

Marge Geneverra (profile) says:

An Alternative

Look at MoneyDance (

The free trial version imported my Money data perfectly. (unlike Quicken)

Works with banks for downloads & bill paying.

Seems to have most of the features of Money, and is at least as user-friendly. (unlike Gnucash)

Cross-platform. Even runs on Linux! (unlike Quicken or Money)

Doesn’t expose your data on a web site (unlike Mint) – even has a database encryption option.

I’d never heard of this until yesterday. Costs less than $40.

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

Patenting and competition

It is a matter of timing. Carnegie made most of his millions by stealing a better way of making steel (“stealing steel?”).
However, Carnegie was smarter than Microsoft, and moved in while the competitor was TOO “small and nimble”.
Patents would have protected the smaller company while it became an Intuit, but they didn’t have that protection (there is more to it than that, but that is the gist of it).
So, yes, the way patents are abused is a real problem, and major changes are needed (if Congress would only allow them).
BTW, why do we have 80 percent trivia (entertainment industry) and a trivial amount of “good stuff” like this?

Gerald Mucci (user link) says:

Transferring Data from Money to Moneydance

From Marge: “The free trial version imported my Money data perfectly. (unlike Quicken)”

Here is the Moneydance FAQ on transferring Money data into Moneydance. Read through it and tell me if you would expect your data to be transferred “Perfectly.”

Knowledge Base: Moving from MS Money to Moneydance

Before beginning, note that Microsoft Money will not export an account you have closed in Microsoft Money to a QIF file. Re-open any closed accounts that you want to export before exporting from Microsoft Money.

In MS Money open the file that you want to export.

1.Select File->Export.

2.Click Loose QIF, then click OK.

3.In the File Name box, type a name for the account that you want to export. Give the files descriptive names so that you don’t get confused later. Investement accounts will require two files, one for the investment transactions and one for the cash transactions. That’s because MSMoney treats them as two separate accounts internally. Loan accounts cannot be exported. That’s okay. You’ll work around that limitation later.

4.When prompted to select the account type you want to export, click Regular or Investment for the account being exported, then click OK.

5.In the Account List box, click the account that you want to export, then click Continue.

6.When Money is finished exporting the account, click OK.

You must repeat the steps above for each account you want to export.

7.Create the accounts in Moneydance before you begin importing the files. This is an important step. Make sure you name the accounts with the exact spelling used in MSMoney. You’ll need to create two accounts in Moneydance for each investment account. One will be of type of “Investement” and the other will be “Bank”. The bank account will contain the cash transactions from the investment from MSMoney. This is just a temporary account used for correctly importing the data. You will combine the transactions and delete this account later. Go ahead and create your loan accounts in Moneydance as well. Remember to use exact spelling or everything will get screwed up.

8.Import the QIF files. Make sure you land each QIF file into the corresponding account in Moneydance you created in step 7

9.a) Select Import->”Quicken(TM) Interchange Format (QIF)” from the file menu.

b) The “Import QIF File” will be displayed again. From this window set the “File Source:” to “From Another Program”.

c) From the “Import To:” option Select “Existing Account” and select the Moneydance account that you want to import the data into.

Remember, to select the “Bank” account when importing the cash portion of the investment accounts. If you make a mistake (like importing into the wrong account) you’ll probably need to start over so be extra careful. That’s why you should give the qif files descriptive names in step 3. If done correctly every account will get populated with the correct transactions…even the loan accounts. There should not be any of those “Imported Account” accounts or categories. If there are then you’ve made a mistake.

10.Move all transactions from the temporary “Bank” accounts you created for place holders for the cash portion of the investment accounts from MSMoney into the one and only corresponding investment account in Moneydance. Delete the temporary place holder account in Moneydance. Moneydance will contain the cash transactions in the root of the investment account. That’s the way it should be.

11.Edit the loan accounts in Moneydance. When you click done Moneydance will ask if you want to transfer the loan balance to another account. Select yes and choose the account that received the loan proceeds. This may be a checking account if it was an unsecured loan or it may be an asset account if there was an asset that was acquired. You may need to modify the transaction later to account for closing costs, etc.

12.Organise your accounts and categories the way you want. The Find and Replace extension can be very useful in changing the categories of a lot of transactions at once. Here is the link:

13.You may need to make a few balancing entries in some of the accounts to get things balanced correctly. That’s because MSMoney is not a double-entry system and so things aren’t required to balance there.

14.Relax and feel good knowing that you are now liberated from MSMoney.

Marge Geneverra (profile) says:

Transferring Data from Money to Moneydance


It worked for me. I didn’t say that it was an easy “1=click” process. It’s a PITA to do a couple dozen accounts & it takes time & organization.

If you’ve got an easy alternative, share it with us.

Two weeks in, and I’m satisfied. Re-learning the user interface on a financial tool is also not fun, but can be done (& will have to be done at some point for Money customers).

I’ve had the added fun of switching a few other things to Linux, in addition to MoneyDance. A few more utilities & tools to track down & I’ll be off of Windows, as well. Those years of data in Money were really all that kept me there.

I’m happy to be free of MS Money.

John M Passmore (profile) says:


In ‘Accounting for a Better Life’ introducing a new Domestic Accounting Model, emphasis is given to semi-automated on-line access whereby QIF downloads from your bank account(s) can be imported into Microsoft Money (MSM). This ensures that you remain aware of the changes to your financial situation (very important) and releases you from the need to use a version of MSM associated with banks and online access.

I have used versions of MSM from the 98 version onwards and providing you can import QIF files – I think this started at about version 2004 – you don’t really need to update.

Regarding import and export needed to get data across different national versions of MSM, remember that you need to use Import/Recover in order to bring in Category links from an exported QIF file!

So carry on using Money for as long as possible and invstigate an even better way to use it …

John M Passmore (profile) says:


In ‘Accounting for a Better Life’ introducing a new Domestic Accounting Model, emphasis is given to semi-automated on-line access whereby QIF downloads from your bank account(s) can be imported into Microsoft Money (MSM). This ensures that you remain aware of the changes to your financial situation (very important) and releases you from the need to use a version of MSM associated with banks and online access.

I have used versions of MSM from the 98 version onwards and providing you can import QIF files – I think this started at about version 2004 – you don’t really need to update.

Regarding import and export needed to get data across different national versions of MSM, remember that you need to use Import/Recover in order to bring in Category links from an exported QIF file!

So carry on using Money for as long as possible and invstigate an even better way to use it …

apexwm (user link) says:

Consider open source, the better alternative

I too used Microsoft Money for about 10 years. Luckily, I bailed out. Why? Microsoft used its evil ways and when I tried to upgrade MS Money, I was denied because I was using Windows 2000, and MS Money would only install on Windows XP. This made me furious, so I ditched it and went to Quicken. Now I have discovered that even with Quicken, I am going to be forced to pay for upgrades ever 3 years or so as they will drop support for updates. So… I am finally going to an open source program called GNUCash. Why? Because I am tired of dealing with commercial software that requires its users to “re-buy” it ever few years. Open source software has FREE updates and will always be FREE.

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