Rather than try to topple Intuit’s strangle-hold on the personal finance software market, Microsoft tried to buy the company. Fortunately for the consumer, the deal ran afoul of federal antitrust laws and Microsoft was forced to compete with Intuit rather than gobble it whole.
As a result, the two companies have been playing a game of one-upsmanship with each successive release.
There are four basic components on which the Quicken 99 and Money 99 compete: design and ease of use, checking and investing, financial planning and taxes and online banking.
Both Money and Quicken Deluxe use an interface that borrows heavily from the Internet with their browser like navigation buttons and simulated Web page design. They also allow you to customize the opening home page view. While the interface is new for Quicken, Money introduced its version last year and has had time to refine the look. Quicken has made data entry much easier with Quick Entry-a sort of mini-program that starts quickly and lets you make simple adjustments without entering the full program.
The rival programs are also neck and neck in the checking and investing category. Both products handle checking in different, although equally satisfactory manners; however, Quicken uses a more familiar checkbook-style interface. Money and Quicken are adept at everything from stock splits to employee stock options, and you’ll likely find all of the investing tools you need. If not, each links to their respective Web based financial sites: Quicken. com and Microsoft Investor. You can also go online to conduct research or download information to your portfolio. One big difference is the cost. Quicken gives you access to its site gratis, while Microsoft Investor charges $9.95 per month.
In the financial planning realm, Quicken is a distant second to Microsoft’s Financial Planner, which is also available as a stand-alone product. Quicken makes a noble attempt with its addition of QuickPlan, but it has nowhere near the muscle of Money’s Lifetime Planner. Quicken makes up for this shortcoming by hitting a home run in the tax category. Your purchase of Quicken 99 also gets you a free return prepared by WebTurboTax, Intuit’s Web-based tax preparation service. Besides that, Quicken’s TaxPlanner and Deduction Finder are more than up to the task. Money’s tax planner is good, but if you’re looking for top-notch tax advice you’ll have to look elsewhere.
Obviously, the Web is where it’s at. Both programs have not only turned to an Internet metaphor for their interface, but they’ve also begun to incorporate Net-based information and services into the heart of the programs. Online banking is basically a draw with both programs having similar offerings.
Quicken Deluxe 99 and Money 99 are both good choices, with each getting the upper hand in certain categories. If financial planning is your main concern, Money 99 might be the best choice. Otherwise, Quicken Deluxe 99 handles taxes better and it gives you free access to Quicken.com. (both are available for Win95/98 or NT4.0).
Quicken Deluxe 99 (also available in Home and Business edition)
Retail: $59.95 ($20 rebate)