A computer is only as useful as the software you run on it, so you should keep your PC’s software current–and not necessarily with the latest version of a program that’s getting long in the tooth. Sometimes, switching to a new application can help you speed up your work or make your system more efficient.
PCWorld examined software tools for handling 11 categories of common (and essential) PC tasks: presentations, financial planning, note taking, file management, photo editing, email, word processing, music organizing, remote access, cleanup/optimization, and backup. In each instance, we identified the dominant program, a promising challenger, and (where applicable) an online alternative. Our category coverage invites you to consider the pros and cons of each type of contender: incumbents, up-and-comers, and Web apps.