Microsoft Money 2003 Deluxe review: Microsoft Money 2003 Deluxe

CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Intuitive, Web-like interface; includes free e-bill-pay service and tax return; bundles sophisticated portfolio tools, which, for example, let you monitor and exercise options, excellent tech support.

The Bad No Mac version; suffers some feature-bloat; still requires a Passport account to access some features.

The Bottom Line Money hasn't made enough improvements for 2002 users to upgrade, but thanks to its excellent tech support, this app is still the best money manager for Windows to date.

CNET Editors' Choice Jul '02

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(Updated 8/16/02)

Every year, Intuit Quicken outsells Microsoft Money, and there's nothing in Money 2003 Deluxe to change those popularity rankings. With only a few new features--most in the investing arena--there's little reason for current Money users to upgrade from version 2002. We hate the way Money makes you get a Passport account to access some services, and we fear that the program is getting too big for its britches. But overall, Money's attractive interface, first-rate Web integration, and excellent investing tools pretty much tie it up with Quicken this time around. And its superior customer support services give it just the edge it needs to take our Editors' Choice award. (Updated 8/16/02)

Every year, Intuit Quicken outsells Microsoft Money, and there's nothing in Money 2003 Deluxe to change those popularity rankings. With only a few new features--most in the investing arena--there's little reason for current Money users to upgrade from version 2002. We hate the way Money makes you get a Passport account to access some services, and we fear that the program is getting too big for its britches. But overall, Money's attractive interface, first-rate Web integration, and excellent investing tools pretty much tie it up with Quicken this time around. And its superior customer support services give it just the edge it needs to take our Editors' Choice award.

Pass on Passport
Money's setup remains similar to last year's: a slick wizard walks you through the process of configuring accounts and scheduling regular bill payments, such as those for your phone, mortgage, and car. In our trial run, we wrapped up the procedure in about 15 minutes, about 5 minutes quicker than last year. And Money still works hand in hand with the enemy; we imported a massive Quicken file without a hitch. Unlike last year, however, Money 2003 Deluxe now lets you choose to create your own Money password for accessing your finances, rather than rely on Passport, Microsoft's proprietary authentication system.

A Web look and feel
Version 2003's interface still looks and navigates like a Web site, with hyperlinks and a customizable toolbar. The new Task-Based Home Page groups your financial chores by topic, including paying bills, planning, and budgeting. Rookies will appreciate this straightforward organization.

That said, we fear that Money suffers from early-stage information overload. Its cluttered display, once so simple, is getting harder to work with while Quicken 2003's revamped interface is easier than ever. For example, this year, a small pane displays future bills and a cash-flow projection at the bottom of bank registers, crowding the screen. You must select from a menu to make this disappear.

Not much new
Alas, Money 2003's few cool enhancements are either separate programs, Quicken catch-ups, or useful only to a minority. This year, you'll get a free year of MSN Bill Pay (an e-bill-payment service run by CheckFree) and, finally, the ability to schedule Money to send out electronic payments when you're offline and compare spending and income for two different time periods. Quicken has offered both of these features for years. Worse, Money once again leaves Mac users out in the cold; Money runs only on Windows PCs. Shame on Microsoft.

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  • Category business applications
  • Compatibility PC