Last month, I upgraded our home PC with an internal SSD drive as the primary drive for my OS and apps. I wouldn’t say it is noticeably faster, but the jury is still out as I continue to evaluate overall performance. After upgrading, I had to decide which key software to install and what to leave off. Nothing better than a clean slate, you know? I also decided to upgrade some of the old software.
I decided to take a leap with moving on up from my old version of Microsoft Office to their new Office suite. Microsoft’s full Office 2013 suite is pretty expensive once if you need more than the basic core applications. We primarily use Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. One option available was to purchase the full Office Home and Student 2013 package (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneNote) for $139, but it doesn’t include Outlook. Argh. The Office Professional 2013 includes the four apps we need, plus Access and a bunch of other apps we have limited need for, such as Publisher, etc. Sound better, but that will set you back $399. Pretty steep.
I decided instead to try out a trial month of their new Office 365 Premium product. It’s basically Office Premium 2013 for either $9.99/month or $99.99 annually. You automatically get the updates to future versions of the software, and a slew of other benefits that I’m not likely to use, such as the ability to install temp versions to use on any other PC. However, what peaked my interest was the fact that you get five licenses for installation. Now I could use this on a future PC for the kids to do their homework, my parents’ home PC. I’m currently using one of my additional Norton 360 licenses on my parents’ PC, no issues.
$100 for a year of Office wasn’t a big hurdle, so I purchased and installed. The interface is certainly more minimalist and flatter, in line with what Microsoft is doing with Windows 8. So far, it’s okay, not wowed, but it works well enough and it’s fast.
Back a few years ago, I used to do lot of photo and image editing with an older version of Adobe Photoshop, especially when I needed custom graphics when i had free time to design and maintain websites for church, the NY IIA’s chapter website, and also the original version of joelipe.com (before migrating to WordPress.) It also came in handy when I needed to fix up an awesome family photo that had some weird or unfortunate aspect. I’ve done some cool airbrushing in my day.
Adobe’s software has notoriously been expensive, and that’s why I’ve used an old version for almost a decade. To purchase a new version was financially prohibitive — I’m talking $600 for a single license. I’ve used lots of free and shareware image editing software in the past, but, in my opinion, nothing beats Photoshop in terms of tools available and what it can do. But $600?
Adobe recently also began offering subscription pricing for their large portfolio of software under the Creative Cloud umbrella. While I would to have Acrobat, Dreamweaver, and a host of their other software available to me, I can’t afford the $49.99/month subscription fee. My side shenanigans don’t pay enough to cover that. The good news is they’re currently running a promotion offering Photoshop CC and the latest version of Light room (v5.3) for only $9.99/month for the next 12 months. It bumps up to maybe $19.99/month for me in 2015, so I will have to evaluate in a year’s time. For now, I think it’s a good deal, so I bit the bullet. If you’re also interested, this special promotion runs out on Dec 31st.