Office Mobile ( iOS)
The Office apps for iOS are worth downloading for free basic editing features, but are much more useful once you add a subscription to Office 365.
Quicken Premier 2010
Quicken 2010 is a solid finance package, especially for novices, but offers little that's substantively new.
Corel Home Office
Despite some compatibility setbacks, Corel Home Office suite is useful for creating documents. Its conscientious size, small-screen optimizations, and attractive price make it a good buy for a Netbook office suite, or for saving space by shedding advanced features.
TurboTax Deluxe 2008 ( Federal + State)
TurboTax 2008 is the most expensive tax app on the market, but it's also fast, complete, and straightforward. If finishing quickly is your goal, the extra cost is worth it. If you anticipate wanting live help support, look into TaxCut.
iWork '09 Family Pack
Intuitive interface design and easy access to useful features make iWork the best office suite choice on the Mac. Though it lacks some of Microsoft Office's advanced options, iWork '09 is an emerging powerhouse in its own right.
Intuit QuickBooks Accounting Pro Edition 2009
Intuit QuickBooks Premier 2009 keeps the program's well-designed, intuitive interface, while adding a few new features. It's a worthy upgrade for people serious about online banking, and it remains the best accounting program for small business owners. However, Intuit should be more generous with customer support, particularly for setup issues.
Dragon Naturally Speaking 10 Standard
Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10 isn't perfect, but it's the best dictation software available. We don't find this upgrade necessary for the most basic dictation, although new features may benefit heavily accented English speakers and those who rely heavily on voice commands.
H&R Block TaxCut Home & Business + Federal + State 2007
H&R Block TaxCut is relatively affordable and well-designed tax-prep software, although we found TurboTax's interview to be more direct and thorough.
Intuit TurboTax 2007 Premier
It's not perfect, but if you're brave enough to manage your own taxes, then TurboTax 2007 is Intuit's best tax application yet.
Microsoft Office for Mac 2008 ( Home and Student Edition)
Office for Mac 2008 may be the best pick for business users, but most people can get by with less costly alternatives.
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 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.
QuickBooks Pro 2007
Despite its lean list of improvements, QuickBooks 2007 remains a terrific small-business accounting package. Longtime QuickBooks users who haven't already upgraded to QuickBooks 2006 should leap to 2007 instead.
Microsoft Money 2007 Deluxe
If you're using an earlier version of Microsoft Money, the 2007 updates may not tempt you to upgrade, unless the latest version's new budgeting abilities fit your needs.
Quicken Deluxe 2007
Intuit Quicken 2007 Premier offers a thorough overhaul of its interface, as well as useful new features and conveniences that other financial software products can't match.
Dragon NaturallySpeaking Preferred 9
For people who type a lot or suffer sore fingers and hands, Dragon NaturallySpeaking 9 is the best tool available for dictating text and commanding a Web browser by voice, despite the gradual adjustments needed to conform to your personal manner of speaking.
Peachtree Pro Accounting 2007
With its slick new look and powerful set of bookkeeping tools, Peachtree Complete Accounting 2007 is a fine upgrade for longtime users, especially for small shops that need to manage inventory.
FileMaker Pro 8 ( multiplatform)
With improved data-export tools, beginner-friendly templates, and support for massive files, FileMaker Pro 8 is a great choice for novice or professional users who need to develop powerful databases.
Pricing not available
ACT! 2006 Premium for Workgroups
Act 2006 is a solid choice for sales pros but a nonessential upgrade for version 2005 users.
IBM ViaVoice Simply Dictation for MAC OS X
ViaVoice is an affordable, if buggy, program for basic speech-to-text dictation. To avoid using your hands, however, we recommend the Windows-only Dragon NaturallySpeaking 8.
Overall, Apple iWork '06 is a compelling package, though mostly due to Keynote 3. Keynote 3 is a better tool than PowerPoint, and Pages 2 offers some intriguing new features, though professional users will still yearn for Adobe FrameMaker.
Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional 8 ( French)
Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional 8 does a great job of letting you take care of most computing needs with voice commands instead of the keyboard--a godsend for those who suffer from repetitive stress injuries.