Microsoft Money review: Microsoft Money

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.3
  • Setup and interface: 7.0
  • Features: 8.0
  • Service and support: 7.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Lets you pay online bills in one place; tracks investments; adds budget thermometer.

The Bad For Windows users only; advertises other Microsoft properties; lacks Quicken 2006's ability to attach images to records; requires Microsoft Passport; stores your (encrypted) financial data on Microsoft's servers.

The Bottom Line If you already use Microsoft Money, you'll like the improved online banking and bill-paying skills of this upgrade.

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Microsoft Money Premium 2006

Editors' note: Our original review incorrectly stated that Money 2006 requires Windows XP. Although not described at Microsoft's Web site, Money 2006 works with PCs running Windows 98 SE or later, Windows 2000 Professional SP1 or later, and Windows XP. (8/16/05)

Microsoft Money 2006 is a family-friendly program for household book balancers without accountant-level know-how who need an ongoing snapshot of their financial fitness. If you've already set up your bank or credit card accounts online, Money aggregates your login information within one eye-pleasing interface so that you won't have to jump between multiple Web sites for access. The downside of this convenience is that Microsoft stores your financial information on its servers, which some people may have an issue with. Money also helps you pay bills online, either one by one or in batches. The 2006 editions of Money and market leader Quicken are each excellent in their own right, so if you're already happy with one option, then we don't recommend dropping one for the other. Still, we'd like to see more help for, say, recent college graduates in the form of student loan advice. But if you're digitizing your finances for the first time, and you're comfortable with computers and online banking, then we recommend Money for its ease of use. More sophisticated users should opt immediately for Quicken, which lets you create more sophisticated reports and keeps your financial data safe on your desktop PC.

It took us about five minutes to install Money Premium 2006 on our Windows XP machine. Despite Microsoft's admonitions that it keeps your data private, Money's request that you sign in with a Passport account may make you nervous. We recommend you read the Passport Privacy policy before joining. Note that the Passport setup defaults favor advertisers, so uncheck any boxes that might place you on ad mailing lists.

Once Money was on our hard drive, program wizards walked us through setup--an effortless process once we had our financial account information in hand. We typed in our online bank and credit card account usernames and passwords one by one, then sat back as Money displayed current balances and drew a spending pie chart on its main page. Money's new integration with online institutions appears designed to prevent current users from defecting to Quicken, which introduced a similar feature years ago. But Money makes online account retrieval a one-step process, while Quicken requires you to download your data first. Depending on the financial institutions you use, there may be a fee associated with account retrieval. In order to speed your online access, you'll have to log in every time you open Money, which then automatically synchronizes all of your online financial institution accounts with current information.

The home screen of Money displays the status of your bank and credit card accounts in one place, with a chart to track spending.

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Where to Buy See all prices

Microsoft Money Small Business

Part Number: S67-00015 Released: Jul 5, 2005
MSRP: $89.95 Low Price: $24.99 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Jul 5, 2005
  • Category business applications
  • Compatibility PC