As you might discover from my previous posts, I am using Microsoft Money extensively to track my personal finance status. I didn't upgrade to MS Money 2004 last year, because the upgrade reported that my Money 2003 file was corrupted. During the weekend, I took a try to upgrade to the fresh-out-of-oven Microsoft Money 2005, and guess what? I was painlessly upgraded to 2005 in five minutes.
I tested the multiple function of MS Money 2005 in the last two days and here is my first impression:
On the brighter side, Microsoft added a lot of "essential" functions, allowing infrequent Money users to better leverage the software. Also, this version is much tightly integrated with the rich content at MSN Money (the online personal finance site), thus adding more value to the user experience. I also like the enhanced look and feel of the interface.
On the other hand, as an experienced user (I have been with Microsoft Money for more than six years by now), I do find some glitches in the upgrade, and some changes unwelcomed.
Where Things Are Broken
- My customized category list in the 2003 version was not preserved correctly.
- "Account List" is facelifted; however, account names and balances sit in the opposite side of the screen, causing a tremendous eye strain.
- Home page has much less customization options -- I still love the crammed but useful "at-a-glance" home page from 2003.
- Connecting your existing accounts to online services is troublesome: unlike in 2003, in which you will be prompted to match an online account with an existing account in your Money file first, it seems that Money 2005 simply creates a new account every time you connect to a new online source, causing a number of duplication to me. To be fair, Money 2005 does provide a "merge" feature, but this same feature requires to delete all my historic transactions not duplicated in the other account.
- Portfolio customized views in 2003 was not carried over after the upgrade.
All in all, I see offseting benefits and shortcomings from the Money 2005 upgrade as an experienced user, but I can clearly see it is very user friendly for entry-level users. If you want to make more sense of your personal finance, and have not started tracking it yet, you should start using some personal finance software -- think about getting a piece of Microsoft Money 2005 as the best holiday gift for yourself.
(One more reason for choosing Money: it includes a free one-year credit monitoring service from Experian, a retail value of $119!)