There is literally tons of free software out there today all providing some very useful function and even fun to your laptop experience. Now, personally, I love free and open source software. I love it so much that I will often search for just the right piece of free software before I will even consider investing my hard earned money into commercial software. That being said, sometimes you have no choice but to buy software for your laptop.
We have talked about free software in the past, but today I want to focus on some of the best commercial applications you can find out there that will help you get your work done much more quickly and much more easily. These applications, while not free, can easily be purchased, downloaded and installed today in a matter of minutes, assuming your Internet connection is at least half way decent and you can afford to fork out a premium to compliment your high-end machine.
Why Pay for Software
Before we talk about several different software packages out there than you can buy, we must first examine why you would want to pay for software when you could probably find something similar for free. There are many benefits of opting to buy commercial software. Let’s examine just a few of these benefits.
- Increased Compatibility – If there is one thing that commercial software has over free software is compatibility. Sure, free software has taken steps to be more compatible with commercial software, but they are still not as widely used as other options out there. The world uses commercial software, and if you want to be compatible with the rest of the world without having to jump through a bunch of hoops, then buying an application is most definitely the way to go.
- More features – Free software can be as feature-rich as commercial software, but commercial software has entire teams that can come up with new features designed to make your life easier. Now these don’t always work, but the point is they try and often continue to release new features to make it easier to use the software and sometimes, even quicker.
- Ease of Use – While a lot of free software is easy to use, some of it can be rather cumbersome. The interfaces aren’t often as polished when compared to commercial software either which can make it difficult to find what you want to do in the free software. Commercial software has been designed to be easy to use and usually features a very polished and often pretty interface that you will enjoy using every time you load up the application.
- Accessibility – Let’s face it, if you want to start using free software, you have to look for it. Chances are you will find three or four different options out there as well. This means you will probably have to try them all to figure out which one is right for you. Who has that kind of time? With commercial software, chances are you already know what you are looking for or one quick search or question to someone you know will give you the answer you need.
Drawbacks of Commercial Software
To be fair, it’s not all sunshine and daisies when looking at commercial software. While they do offer benefits, there are most definitely some drawbacks to choosing commercial software that you must consider before you make your purchase.
- Cost – Often commercial software is quite expensive meaning you will have to make a potentially significant investment just to get the proper software for your laptop. If you are on a tight budget, this can be problematic.
- Updates Slow – Free software develops at a fast past compared to commercial software releasing incremental updates and improvements at lightning speed. Commercial software, on the other hand, usually releases new versions every few years. While you will get updates to fix bugs and even add minor improvements to it, if you are looking for something drastic you are going to have to wait awhile for the next version, which you will then have to pay for all over again.
- Locked In – When you use commercial software, it often means you get locked in for the long haul using that software. For example, if you use QuickBooks to keep track of your business’ finances, you will have to keep using it year after year if you ever want to be able to produce any meaningful data about how well your business has performed over the years. Being locked into these systems forces you to keep using software you may not like and even makes you continue to spend money with the companies in order to have the latest versions in order to be able to continue to work.
Commercial Software You May Need
Luckily, I don’t believe there are too many different software packages out there that you simply must have in order to work day in and day out. But there are a few that you will most likely need if you want to make sure you stay current and can easily talk to the rest of the world, especially if you are doing business and not just playing with your machine at night before you hit the sack. Let’s take a look at a few pieces of software that you may want to consider buying to make sure you can easily talk with the rest of the world through your computer no matter what you are doing.
There isn’t a piece of software on this list that is more widely used than Microsoft Office. It is hands down the default office application for the entire world. Sure, there are free options such as LibreOffice if you want to try that, but this software often doesn’t feel quite as clean and easy to use as Microsoft Office. If you want to create a document for people to read, Microsoft Word is your choice. Need a spreadsheet to track expenses? Load up Excel. Microsoft Office is the office suite of the world. While others try to imitate, you cannot do better than the original, and with the entire world using it, why would you bother trying? Microsoft Office is a solid investment for every computer user who wants to remain compatible with the world. If you don’t buy anything else on this list, I personally believe you should pick this one up.
Adobe Creative Cloud
Admittedly, this piece of software is only for people who desire to perform any type of graphic manipulation. Of course today that means almost everyone. So many people alter images today it’s hard to imagine a computer without at least a copy of Photoshop on it. While there are a few free options out there, none of them, and I mean none of them, do as good of a job covering every type of graphical problem you may encounter as Adobe Creative Suite. Whether you are using Photoshop for image manipulation or Adobe Acrobat to create interactive PDF files, if you need to create anything that is graphic heavy, this suite is most definitely the way to go.
Antivirus and anti-malware is definite must whether you are looking at software for your home or office laptop. There are many free security suites out there that may do the job at home, but if you are looking for ultimate protection you need to go with a commercial option. Now, Norton earned itself a bit of bad reputation for being slow and for its lack of protection, but it has cleaned up its act in recent years. Today the software runs lean and its mean destroying viruses and other threats before they ever have a chance to infect your computer. If you are looking for good protection, consider Norton Security as the answer.
Kaspersky Internet Security
If you prefer not to use Norton but still don’t trust the free options out there, Kaspersky is the choice for you. Perfect for both home and business, Kaspersky is one of the most reliable Internet security systems designed to protect your laptop from potentially harmful attacks from viruses or even malware. In business, I always recommend Kaspersky to my customers and for good reason. It catches so much junk that you will wonder how you ever did without it. If you want to keep your computers secure, you definitely should invest your money in this piece of security software.
Intuit Quicken Deluxe
It can be tough to keep a personal budget at home using just some of the basic tools you will find in an Excel spreadsheet, but that is why we have Quicken. Now there are tons of free software options that can help you track your monthly personal budgets, but none of them do a better job than Quicken. This little gem is easy to use and features a great looking interface and it can allow you to create a budget in minutes and then track how well you are doing with just a little bit of work along the way. If you are looking for a way to get your home spending under control, take a close look at Quicken, as it just does everything that the free software can do better, plus it tacks on a few other features to make it worth your while.
Intuit Quickbooks Pro
Despite all the free software available out there designed to help businesses keep track of their finances, none of them do a better job than Quickbooks. It is easy to use and upgrade when they release new updates and it can easily help you track all of your businesses income and expenses using just this one piece of software. When tax time hits, it can help you generate all the forms you need along with all the financial information that you need to submit so you don’t run afoul of any obscure tax laws that you don’t know about. If you keep the software up to date and use it over a long period of time, it begins to become even more powerful as you can track the health of your business’ finances over a long period of time and not just over the last year. If you are looking for a way to keep track of your business finances, you won’t find a better piece of software out there than Quickbooks.
If there is one piece of software you don’t want to skimp on, it is your tax software. Tax laws change almost as often as the weather, so TurboTax releases a new version just in time for tax season every year. This means that you will have to buy the updated version every year in order to make sure your taxes are accurate when you file them. If you don’t, you could have the IRS knocking on your door ready to do an audit simply because you decided to skimp on your tax software this year.
I love free software, and so should you. But that doesn’t mean that you ignore all of the other software out there that is sold on the market. Much of this software brings with it all the features you will ever need and want to the table and makes it easy for you to find them and get them. That way you don’t have to spend hours upon hours trying to find the right piece of software just to save a little money. If time is money, then how much is your time worth? If you spend too much time on free software, you are simply wasting your money when you could quickly buy exactly what you need to get the job done.
When creating the perfect laptop setup, you should take the time to consider both free and commercial applications so you can create the perfect workflow that allows you to get the job done in the shortest amount of time. The software I highlighted for you today can help you do just that. Even though it may require you to invest some of your hard earned money, in the end it could be worthwhile investment.