Some things never change.
While reconciling my finances on my lunch break, I had trouble logging into Microsoft Money--actually, into the Live service on which it depends--and upon visiting their network status page, found a link to this bit of lovely news:
Important notice: Microsoft Money Plus is no longer available for purchase. All purchased Money Plus products must be activated prior to Jan. 31, 2011.
Later this year, Microsoft will release versions of Money Plus Deluxe and Money Plus Home & Business that will not require online activation. This version will allow you to keep your Money files and transactional history but will not allow access to online services or premium services. Check back here for additional information or look for future announcements in Money Plus.
Yeah, and fuck you too.
I'm bad with managing my finances. I always have been, and like many people who are bad at finances, I rely on electronic tools to keep track of everything, without which I would be utterly lost. For almost ten years now, this tool has been Microsoft Money, a product which is one of Microsoft's few truly brilliant pieces of work, a product which over the years has been getting more bloated and weighed down with Microsoft cross-promotion and branding crap. It's still, despite all the bloat and garbage, one of the best tools of its kind.
Over the last several versions, Microsoft made one of those changes that is so stupid, so mind-bogglingly unnecessary, it threatens to overshadow everything that is good about the product: they tied it to Windows Live. You can login to your Money file and do your finances without a Live account, if you're offline, or if Live is down, but without the ability to use what it pleases them to call "online services", which is just another term for "online banking". What that really means is that Money cannot contact your financial institution and download your transactions automatically.
You'd think this would be a core piece of functionality, without which any personal financial management software would be next to useless. And you're right, which is likely the exact reason Microsoft made it dependent on Live.
This annoyed me when my long-trusted copy of Money 2000 stopped working and I had to upgrade to the newer version in order to use online banking. It incensed me when they changed the way it talked to Live in a recent version, making an upgrade mandatory if you wanted to go online. This is pretty much the last straw, and it validates the very first complaint I had when they tied it to Live.
I'm sure they thought this was a brilliant business decision. What it's actually done is ensure that Microsoft has permanently lost my business when it comes to providing services of any sort. Oh, I'll still use some of their software--after all, I still run a Windows OS. But for all that Microsoft would like to be a player in the realm of providing online services and not just software, their track record of supporting such ventures is abominable. Time and time again, they've demonstrated a total lack of long-term commitment to their customers, and an unwillingness to continue supporting older technologies or services that have fallen into disfavor. Couple this with a design philosophy that emphasizes dependency on their undependable services in order for products to run or be activated, and it becomes crystal clear that it's impossible to trust Microsoft to provide any service or service-dependent software on a long-term basis for anything important.
This is why I wouldn't consider buying a Zune.
This is why I will be migrating to Quicken or some such for my finances.
This is why I don't care about Xbox Live.
This is why I refuse to buy games that require Games For Windows Live.
This is why I use Gmail instead of Hotmail.
This and incidents like it--Microsoft execs take note--are why Google is now a verb, while Bing is still just a kind of cherry.