I’ve just learned of an announcement from Intuit that could spell the end of our scripted access to OFX/QFX downloads within 2 or 3 years. The reason financial institutions keep the portal servers going for access to our financial data is because of agreements with Intuit for updating account data for their Quicken program. The announcement is actually a couple of months old (August 20th) where they state that because about 2/3rds of Intuit’s business now comes from online and mobile activity, they intend to sell its Quicken unit, the group that creates the personal finance software that made the company famous. Here’s more from an article by Gregg Keizer in Computerwold magazine published 8/21/2015…
The news — and Intuit management’s explanation for the sale — illustrated the retreat of personal computer desktop software and the rise in cloud- and subscription-based services. It also distressed users, who wondered whether the banking and investment software would survive, and if not, how they would replace a program they’ve relied on for years, sometimes decades.
On a conference call with Wall Street analysts Thursday, CEO Brad Smith said Intuit would focus on its small business and tax software, represented by QuickBooks and TurboTax, respectively — both have strong cloud- and subscription-based businesses — and is ditching Quicken because, as a strictly desktop product, it has neither.
“As you know, Quicken is a desktop-centric business and it doesn’t strengthen the small business or tax ecosystems,” said Intuit CEO Brad Smith in a conference call with Wall Street Thursday. “Our strategy is focused on building ecosystems and platforms in the cloud. We value our loyal Quicken customers and we’re seeking a buyer who will provide the product support and the service they deserve.”
“I expect Quicken to be dead in two years at best,” predicted someone identified as “rickbee9,” in one of several comments on the Quicken discussion forum thread about the proposed sale.
Others questioned Smith’s explanation, saying that Intuit is simply ditching its weakest money makers to make its balance sheet look better. “[It’s] clear that Intuit is divesting itself of the lowest revenue items, no matter how they spin it,” wrote “smayer97” on the same thread. “It is clear that this has nothing to do with which segment classes of products they are keeping vs. not … they are clearly only wanting to keep the top revenue items.”
The three units Intuit plans to sell — Quicken, QuickBase and Demandforce — accounted for less than 6% of the firm’s fiscal 2015 revenue, and just 2% of its net income during the same period. For the last 12 months, Quicken contributed just $51 million to the company’s total revenue of nearly $4.2 billion.
One indicator of the soon-to-be-sold units’ worth in investors’ eyes is that not one Wall Street analyst asked a question yesterday about their proposed sale.
In a FAQ about the Quicken sale, Intuit asserted that it would find the right home for the personal finance software. “We are seeking a buyer that recognizes the value of the brand, respects the customers and will invest in upgrading the product and support experience,” said Intuit. “We intend to run a crisp process, focused on engaging with strong and reputable buyers.”
Customers weren’t buying that either.
“I love how [the CEO] is telling you that he can pick a buyer in a way that they will do everything they didn’t do,” said “QuicknPerlWiz”. “Quicken is 32 years old, and to a developer that usually means code that is really hard to maintain, and that certainly shows.”
In many ways, Quicken is software that users love to hate. With years of data in the company’s proprietary format — and few alternatives — they not only feel trapped but also regularly rail about the product. Quicken’s listing on ConsumerAffairs.com, the consumer advocacy organization’s website, makes for dismal reading: The overall satisfaction rating is one star out of a possible five.
“I hate this program. I’ve been using Quicken for many years, and it just get[s] worse and worse with each update. It is less and less user friendly,” alleged Beverly of Midland, Tex.
“I have never seen a major software company so technically inept and getting worse. Every month there seems to be some new major issue with this software,” griped Bill of Scottsdale, Ariz.
Intuit promised that it would continue to maintain and develop Quicken until it finds a buyer, adding that it plans to release the next edition, Quicken 2016 for Windows, and would keep working on the Mac version. Current users should see no interruption in their ability to use the software or its associated services, such as Quicken Bill Pay.
“As we move through this sale, it’s business better than usual,” wrote Eric Dunn, who heads the Quicken unit, in an online statement. “As a standalone business, we’ll focus solely on taking Quicken to the next level. And until we find that buyer, we’ll continue to provide you with [the] dedicated, uninterrupted service and support you deserve.”
If Intuit keeps to its usual schedule, it will ship Quicken 2016 in the next several weeks.
Quicken is one of the oldest desktop products, preceding even Windows. Quicken debuted in 1983, near the beginning of the PC revolution, and first ran on Microsoft’s DOS.
I think Intuit is trying to sell Quicken simply because it doesn’t add enough to their bottom line. We all know that in this day and age, public companies care only about the bottom line – if it doesn’t make enough money, they don’t want it.
With that said, the reason I’m writing about this is that I strongly feel that the functionality of MS Money and Quicken will depend on who buys the Quicken product. This could give Quicken a good kick-in-the-pants and improve the product OR it could be the death blow of Quicken along with the Pocketsense update features of MS Money. Banks and brokerages would no longer have reason to keep the OFX/QFX servers running if the Quicken agreements are dissolved, and in fact they would rather you access your financial data exclusively with their web portals.
I selfishly want Quicken to remain strong, so that Money will continue to function perfectly as-is.
I’ve been tracking my free FICO scores for some time now and thought I would share how and why I do this in Money in case you might want to add this function yourselves. Discover provides a monthly update to your TransUnion FICO score on their credit card statement and Citi does the same with your Equifax FICO score. As to why – why not? We track everything else that involves our finances, and Money makes it easy to view in our Portfolio review screens. From the Portfolio screens, it is also easy to right-click and select “See Price History” allowing you to view a graph of your FICO score history.
All you need to do is add the scores into your Watch account by creating a dummy transaction with zero shares of each FICO score you’re able to get …
and then select “Update prices > Manually” every time you receive a score update.
Well tomorrow Microsoft is supposed to start installing Windows 10 as an “upgrade” to PCs running Windows 7 and Windows 8.x and it appears that some early testers have observed hiccups without official acknowledgement of fixes being offered. I for one plan on not accepting the Windows 10 upgrade for a while (assuming of course that I will be offered the option and it won’t just install on its own). We have until July 2016 to get the free upgrade to Windows 10, so there is no need to rush it!
I happened to note that Robin Wheeler has observed that Microsoft Money is expecting that the version number for Internet Explorer should be defined with no more than 15 characters. The current version number in the registry for Internet Explorer 11 is 9.11.10240.16384 and she has found that the value needs to be truncated by removing the 16th character (4) in order for Money to run. Great observation Robin! This could be a pain if Microsoft is going to update Internet Explorer (or Edge which is the name of IE’s replacement) using version numbers greater than 15 characters long.
*** Should be easy for someone to write a python script to keep the version number truncated in the registry as it changes in the future.***
So, to clarify, in order to resolve the error: [updated 8/2/2015 to include 32-bit variance]
- Open Registry Editor (RegEdit). (Search for it using Windows 10 search box, and then right-click and choose “run as administrator”)
- Navigate to the following registry key for 64-bit Windows:
or for 32-bit Windows:
- In the right pane, look for Version registry value.
- Modify the value data to 9.11.10240.1638 so that it contains no more than 15 characters.
She questioned why Money looks at the IE version #. Unlike a program that generically invokes a browser by simply looking up the registry to identify the default browser, Microsoft Money is designed to use Internet Explorer exclusively as the entire user interface and consequently it looks up the registry to find the installed version. If no entry is found, it will default to prompting you to install Internet Explorer 6 – which of course will never install with Windows 8 or 10.
I’m going to inject my theory here at the risk of being proven wrong (I don’t have Windows 10 yet), but based on past experience, I don’t think it matters if Windows default browser is set to Edge or Firefox or Chrome – Money is always going to use Internet Explorer, or at least what the registry leads Money to think is Internet Explorer. Based on all of the changes reported to work for “Version”, it seems that it can be almost anything, as long as it isn’t longer than 15 characters AND as long as a version of Internet Explorer can be found, that is what is invoked to open up Money.
What isn’t clear yet is whether a clean install of Windows 10 (vs. an upgrade) and/or future iterations of Windows 10 will always install a version of IE, whether Edge will always act like a future version of IE, and whether Microsoft will continue to use the registry as a means to fooling legacy programs like Money into thinking that the current browser will behave properly with Money as IE has up through Version 11.
I’ll do my best to keep track of any issues and solutions that keep me from using Microsoft Money as I really have no intentions of not using this fantastic program.
I’ve just read that upgrading to Windows 10 sometimes messes up the read/write permissions of your Documents folder and since I recall that some readers have reported that they had trouble saving their Money files, i thought I would add instructions for this issue in this blog. I automatically assumed that readers reporting this issue had their Money data file in the wrong location since Windows 7 & 8 never messed up the file permissions.
“I can’t use my files after updating. How do I get rid of the read-only attribute in my Documents and Download folders?”
Removing read-only attributes is usually a snap, and should take only a minute or two. Here’s how:
In an admin-level account, right-click the read-only files or folders and select Properties. Under the General tab, untick the box for Read-only and then click OK. After a few seconds (depending on number of affected files and folders) all the selected files/folders should no longer be read-only.
MSMoneyQuotes by Gaier Software, LLC
[UPDATE 1/3/2015] Dan has just released version 2.0 for 2015 that obtains financial data from an entirely new online quote service built for the new MSN.com and MSN Money websites, and is also used by the Windows 8 Finance app. The new online quote service is more reliable, has better symbol coverage, and should be here to stay for a long time. It is backed by a Morningstar quote feed and should prove to be more useful to more users than MSN.com has been this past year!
Well, I stated in my previous blog post that this addon program looked promising, and indeed, even though Money is offline now, with MSMoneyQuotes, we once again have the ability of feeding live (20 minutes delayed) MSN online quotes data into our Money database once again – even if your Money program isn’t currently running! For those using Pocketsense, simply make sure that you run this program prior to Pocketsense each day (or stop retrieving quotes with Pocketsense ~ comment them out in sites.dat file by inserting # in first column, and use it for statement downloads only) so that your quote price is input into Money as online rather than update. Online allows for continuous updating throughout that day whereas Update only holds the first price entered that day. There is even an option for updating quotes every 15 minutes like Money used to do!
[[UPDATE 5/13/2014] Cal brought up a good point in his review of my review ;-) ” We remember that quotes used to be a big factor in the size growth in Money files. So maybe some of us might run two Money files… one with all of the investment info, and one slower-growing. Anyway, it does honor Money’s selection of about what quotes get downloaded. “ By running Pocketsense prior to MSMoneyQuotes and keeping active those stocks that a representative stock price only is adequate (no other quote data is needed) by listing them in your sites.dat file, you will retain much less data in your Money file. Those stocks that you really wish to retain all of the MSN quote data for will still be entered into Money as long as MSMoneyQuotes is the source of that data. Or you could use this strategy once per month to gather and save the detailed data, using Pocketsense for the other days… Very versatile!!
In addition to Last Price, you’ll also see the following fields updated by MSMoneyQuotes if the MSN site has things set up correctly: change, open, high, low, 52 week high, 52 week low, ask, beta, bid, market cap, shares outstanding, PE, volume, and yield.
Many of my blog readers were involved in the Beta trial and based on the terrific feedback provided, Dan Gaier has come up with a very compact and efficient program that has many powerful options which weren’t available in the original trial release. Well worth the $9.99 lifetime purchase price and in conjunction with Pocketsense, Money really feels like it’s online again! If you would like to try or buy the program – click here. In addition to those of us already using this program, the program’s author will be monitoring this thread so feel free to ask questions by leaving a comment here if the official support page doesn’t answer your questions. You also have the option of emailing Dan Gaier directly at email@example.com. Thank you Dan for making this available to Money diehards!!!! Long live MS Money offline – it’s already been 4 years.
Restoring Microsoft Money Quote Updates
I’m a former Microsoft employee who worked on the Microsoft Money product and MSN Money website for almost a decade. Yep, I was the software developer who built the Portfolio Manager for both products, worked on the quote services that powered them, and in 2009 built the Money-to-Quicken Converter for Intuit.
Since Microsoft pulled the plug on the quote servers in the summer of 2013, I often get asked if it’s possible to build something that would restore Money’s ability to get quote information. It turns out it is possible!
So in my (very limited) spare time, I’ve been tinkering with building such a tool over the last 6 months. The Money code is old and complex (written in C/C++, Win32, COM for those technical folks) and it took a fair amount of time and effort to work through some hurdles, but I finally have something that works.
The tool is a separate executable that can open your Money file (including password protected ones), inspect the securities in your portfolio, make service call(s) to MSN Money’s new quote services to fetch data for these securities, and update your Money file. It follows nearly the same logic as the original Money code in terms of updating this information, and includes data such as last, change, open, high, low, 52 week high, 52 week low, ask, beta, bid, market cap, shares outstanding, PE, volume, and yield. It also handles pounds to pence price conversions for you UK users. It can be run throughout the day, knows when to add vs. update an existing price entry, and can be run while you have Money open.
I’ve tested it with a few recent versions of Money, but have no idea if it will work for older versions. I’d consider the current version in a “Beta” stage.
I’d like for you to try it out to see if it works. I’ve made a special version of this tool called MSMoneyQuotesTrial.exe that allows 30 quote updates.
Depending on the feedback I receive, I may put more time and effort into releasing a polished version of this tool and unlock it to allow for unlimited quote updates.
Click here to register as a tester and download this executable for free.
Click here to download updates if you’ve already registered.
© 2014, Gaier Software LLC
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 41,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 15 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
Just throwing this out there for the programmers / Money “experts” out there…
I happened to stumble on the possible source of links in Money Plus to the MSN servers that might be used to redirect to alternative solutions for those functions that used to be provided by the MSN servers.
In MNYCoreFIles/WebCache is a file rooturl.xml that reveals the following:
[?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?]
It couldn’t be so simple as to plug in new urls, could it?