Integration with Mac OS X Yosemite and a fair price make Parallels Desktop 10 the best Mac system virtualization option, despite a confusing installation process.
If you're a dedicated Windows 8 hater, the update to Windows 8.1 isn't going to change your mind. For everyone else, this collection of tweaks, fixes, and new features is useful, but everything here should have shipped in the original version last year.
Google's experimental game streaming service launches without many of its promised features and just a handful of games. It works, but there's not much incentive to buy in.
Net Nanny's default setting filters fewer naughty sites than any major blocking package, but it's by far the easiest to customize and use. Unless you need CyberSitter's strict site filtering, go with Net Nanny.
Microsoft Office Excel 2003
Why pay for a collection of second-rate audio add-ons and desktop decorations when you can find better junk for free on the Web? Skip Plus, unless you're looking for a silly holiday gift for a tech newbie.
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.
You'll love Office 2001 as much as you may have disliked its predecessors. This must-have upgrade sets the standard for Mac office suites, thanks to its Mac-specific look and feel and a host of new tools.
On the expensive side but easy to use and ideal for turning photos into creative projects.
Microsoft Excel 2004 for Mac
If you've been waiting for a good reason to purchase Mac OS X, Office X is it. But if you're happy with both Office 2001 and OS 9, you won't find enough improvements to justify the $299 upgrade price.
FranklinCovey PlanPlus brings the company's planning system to the desktop level and delivers management tools and organization to the busy individual.
Microsoft Office Project 2003
Home media buffs will find what they need in this versatile and stable suite for authoring and editing DVDs and CDs, but pros may want more.
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.
QuickBooks Premier 2006 is the best upgrade in years. Its slick new interface is the best in small-business accounting, and its accounting toolkit is easy to learn. Small but growing businesses should buy it.
A supereasy setup and a great design put Quicken 2004 on top, especially for novices, but Quicken 2003 users probably don't need to upgrade.
The well-designed QuickBooks Point of Sale Pro 4.0 is a cash register on steroids--a hardware and software system for managing a retail business.