Microsoft Money Plus Deluxe 2008
Once again, we don't find this upgrade necessary, although some might come to rely upon the new Insights views of finances, and uber-organized users can link transactions to images of checks and receipts.
QuickBooks 2008 Simple Start Plus Pack
QuickBooks Premier 2008 remains the top small-business accounting program. Its guidance for novices is top-notch, and it comes in a variety of editions tailored for specific industries. Version 2008 isn't an essential upgrade for QuickBooks 2007 users, but it's a good buy for users of earlier versions, and for anyone new to accounting software.
Apple iWork '08
Although Microsoft Office 2007 offers deeper features, particularly for number crunchers, Apple iWork '08 is a strong Mac productivity package and a pleasure to use.
Adobe Illustrator CS3 ( single user upgrade from FreeHand, Mac)
Though it remains an excellent vector drawing tool, there's not a lot in Adobe Illustrator CS3 to compel CS2 users to upgrade.
Adobe Photoshop CS3 ( single user upgrade, Mac)
With its streamlined tools, enhanced nondestructive editing capabilities, and better performance, Adobe Photoshop CS3 will look very attractive to almost any user.
TurboTax Home & Business 2006
With its cogent, easy-to-understand interview and clean design, Intuit TurboTax 2006 remains one of the top tax-prep programs out there. However, it's pricier than H&R Block's TaxCut, which is the better bargain.
TaxCut Premium + State 2006
For do-it-yourself tax preparers, H&R Block TaxCut Premium 2006 is a solid buy. TaxCut is a breeze to learn and notably less expensive than archrival TurboTax Premier.
Microsoft Office Outlook 2007
If you work with Microsoft Outlook on a daily basis, this upgrade can make scheduling simpler and e-mailing more interesting. Still, we wish Instant Search and e-mail rendering were better.
Microsoft Word 2007
If you're ready to let go of old habits from previous versions of Word and want to make sleeker-looking documents, Microsoft Word 2007 is worth the upgrade. However, less-expensive alternatives handle its core features without the clutter.
Microsoft Office Professional 2007
Overall, Microsoft Office Standard 2007 is a worthy upgrade if you need to make sleeker-looking documents and presentations to share with others, and Outlook is better than ever, but you can stick to your current software if you don't feel that it lacks anything.