Microsoft Money may be headed off into the sunset, but Redmond has one last version to offer those who are still using the personal finance product.
The so-called "sunset edition" of Microsoft Money was released earlier this month. Although it has fewer features--stripping out all of the online capabilities--this new version of Microsoft Money doesn't require activation, meaning that users who need to install it on a new PC or who lose their product code won't be stuck without their data.
"The Microsoft Money Plus Sunset versions are replacements for expired versions of Microsoft Money Essentials, Deluxe, Premium, and Home and Business," Microsoft said in a statement. "They allow existing customers to use MoneyPlus to continue accessing their data."
As first reported by CNET last June, Microsoft is discontinuing the personal finance product. Sales ended last year and support is planned only through January 2011.
The challenge is that the product required online activation on each machine running Money, even once online services are discontinued."Now that Money Plus is no longer available for purchase, the online activation step will eventually become unnecessary and unsupported," Microsoft said on the download page. "This Money Plus Sunset package is targeted at removing the activation dependency."
Microsoft stopped selling Money at retail stores in 2008, but continued selling it online until last year, when it announced plans to discontinue the software.
There are actually two versions of the Sunset edition--one for those running Money Premium, Deluxe, and Essentials and the other for those running Money Home and Business. While users that plan to keep using Money should eventually install Money Sunset, the company warns those still getting online updates should stick with the version they have until they no longer need--or no longer can get--those updates. That's because the Sunset version actually strips out the ability to get online quotes, online updates from banks or do online bill paying.
"If your installation of Money Plus currently has active online services, or if your installation of Money Plus is still covered by support services...we recommend that you NOT upgrade to this version of Money Plus Sunset," Microsoft warned. The company estimates all online updates will be discontinued by January 31, after which point it suggests people move to the Sunset version. The software maker also recommends that users keep their original software, their most recent activation key as well as the Sunset software. Plus, it said, for users using a Windows Live ID to authenticate the software, they should switch to using Money's built-in authentication, in case it ever pulls the plug on Live ID-based authentication for Money.
So far, Microsoft has done little to make people aware of the new version, other than posting it for download. However, the company said that will change.
"We will be promoting the Microsoft Money Plus Sunset versions in the coming weeks and will encourage consumers currently using online services to retain their current version to take advantage of the online services until they expire," the company said in a statement to CNET. "For users already without online services, we will encourage them to move over to the new versions now."
Or, perhaps easier and more fruitful, one could just move to a non-discontinued, still-being-updated product, like say Quicken--the software whose market dominance eventually pushed Money to the recycle bin.