When I left Windows for the Macintosh years ago, there was one thing I didn’t count on: there are no good personal finance programs available for the Mac.

Yes, there’s Quicken 200x, and I tried it for six months (and have looked carefully at every version when released, including the latest minimum-changes-required 2006). But, it’s a pale reflection of its PC version, and is kind of old and clunky to boot: it clearly has “OS9 port” and “1998 feature set” written all over it. Which is too bad—Mac users deserve better.

Now, it’s very possible to do a good job with a program that was originally written for OS9: see BBEdit, for example. (Hi, Rich!) And while I’m a big Cocoa fan, Carbon isn’t the problem—there are plenty of ugly, clunky Cocoa applications. The problem is that Quicken is old and under-featured, especially when compared to similar applications on Windows.

So, I’m stuck with a boat anchor: Microsoft Money.

For years (1985-1999 or so) I used Quicken, starting with Quicken for DOS (I was actually one of the testers, way back, and I’m even in the manual for one of those old versions). But, around 1999, Microsoft got serious about making Money decent, while, at the same time, Intuit lost its way. When my Quicken database got corrupted one time too many, I jumped ship.

Money’s actually a pretty darn good program, and while I have various quibbles with some of the recent choices they’ve made—it’s pretty clear that much of their charter is to drive people to the MSN Money site, and the designers have never tried to use Money on a computer with a less than 1024x780 screen (they’ve surrounded everything in the last two versions with so much blank & wasted space it’s driving me insane)—I’ve been happy with it. Its investing tools work well (the portfolio view is excellent), the bill functionality is good, as is budgeting and the various other things I do. And, the Small Business Edition does a reasonable job of printing invoices and the like when I need to do that.

Its only problem: it’s not available for the Mac. So, I keep a PC around (at present, a Motion Computing LS800 Tablet PC), to check out what’s going on in that world (I’ve always been interested in Pen-based computers), and to keep Money running.

(Of course, I can’t just run Money. This is Windows: I also need a huge fleet of anti-virus, firewall, anti-spyware and other programs. Whee.)

So you gotta do what you gotta do: the ship sails on, dragging its anchor behind it. But, mostly, it’s a good ship, Macintosh.