Personal-finance tool Microsoft Money Essentials (click here for CNET Review) incorporates money management, spending-habit tracking and online bill paying into one program. It automatically tracks spending habits by month and purchase category, and charts them on graphs. The new software, which is downloadable for $19.99, is described by the company as a lighter alternative to Microsoft Money, a competitor of Intuit's Quicken.
Microsoft's new personal-finance tool incorporates data from checking, savings, credit accounts and brokerages into the Money Essentials system. The goal is to offer a streamlined, simple product that does not require installation of a completely new version each year, says a company spokeswoman, although Microsoft will address bugs and improvements suggested by customers.
Money Essentials links with multiple services so that users can view and pay bills using one program rather than by visiting multiple sites, according to Microsoft.
The Money Essentials program can compare actual spending against a monthly budget, and chart the difference.