Microsoft banks on Money update

The software maker has released a downloadable version of its financial package for consumers.

Microsoft on Tuesday released new versions of its personal finance package, including one that can be downloaded from the company's Web site.

Money 2005 comes in four versions--premium, deluxe, standard and small business. The company noted that roughly 33 million U.S. households bank online and said it wants to reach them with its products, which enable consumers to access multiple accounts from one place. Users can download financial information from banks, brokerages and credit card companies.

The package provides functions such as up-to-date statements and balances, checkbook management, monthly budgeting and spending-habit tracking.

"We've found that people value the speed and convenience of banking online but still lack the broader understanding of their overall financial situation," AnnMarie Coe, marketing manager for the home and retail division at Microsoft, said in a statement. "Our goal with Money 2005 was tying these pieces together--pairing consumers' account data with our automated tools to deliver quick, more complete answers about where their money is going."

For the first time, a licensed copy of the new software can be downloaded from Microsoft's site. Money 2005 Standard is available at US$29.95, before a US$10 rebate, while the deluxe version is priced at US$59.95, before a US$20 rebate. The premium package will sell at retail for US$79.95, and the one for small businesses for US$89.95--each before a US$30 rebate, Microsoft said.

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