Intuit, Microsoft Refresh Personal Finance Software

Intuit Inc. Tuesday updated its flagship Quicken personal finance software line by enhancing older versions and replacing its most basic edition with a new title that targets young adults and first-time e-finance users.

Quicken Starter, which retails for US$29.99, is a stripped-down edition that uses a four-step express setup to get neophytes going, said Intuit. It includes tools to track spending, balance checking accounts, and pay bills, but omits other popular Quicken features, such as investment and savings tools, for the sake of brevity.

"The 2008 line-up has something for everybody, regardless of where they are in their financial life," said Glenn Tom, Intuit's director of consumer products, in a statement.

To make room for Starter, Intuit has dropped Quicken Basic, which like Starter, had a price tag of $29.99.

Previous editions -- Deluxe, Premier and Home & Business -- have been upgraded, added Tom. Among the enhancements and changes are a streamlined budgeting tool, easier expense categorization, support for PayPal transactions, and a Windows Vista-only gadget that reminds users of due bills without requiring the user to launch Quicken itself. Deluxe, Premier and Home & Business list for $59.99, $89.99 and $99.99, respectively.

Intuit also said Tuesday it would unveil an online-only version of Quicken next year, but did not provide details on what will be included in the Web edition, or the cost, which would presumably be on a subscription basis.

Customers will be able to download Quicken 2008 starting Aug. 27, with boxed copies of the programs scheduled to hit store shelves Sept. 9.

Last week, rival Microsoft Corp. released the 2008 editions of its Money personal finance program, calling the new versions Money Plus. Like Intuit's line, the redesigned Money family boasts several editions: Deluxe ($49.99), Premium ($79.99) and Home & Business ($89.99).

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