Get productive with our picks for powerhouse software, including Microsoft Office 2010, PC Tools Internet Security 2011, and Adobe Creative Suite 5.
Microsoft Security Essentials
Antivirus software; freeWhen Microsoft jumps into a category, it’s time to pay attention. And when the product is this solid, it redefines the category. This antivirus tool gives you everything you need, offering malware detection in an easy-to-use package with a well-designed interface–and it doesn’t nag unnecessarily.
Set your IT security priorities straight – Attend the Computerworld Technology Insights on Nov. 18 in Toronto
Web browser; free The top pick in our tests is fast and well designed, has a clean and functional interface, supports plenty of add-ons, and provides strong security features. Chrome also offers extensive customization options for power users.
Microsoft Office 2010
Office suite;starts at $280 After years of ceding the online productivity world to Google Docs, Microsoft finally builds Web apps into the latest Office suite. Word, Excel, and PowerPoint all have new features for collaborating online. In addition, PowerPoint gains built-in video editing and playback, smooth new transitions, and an easy-to-use tool for broadcasting slideshows across the Web.
Adobe Creative Suite 5
Design software; starts at $1899 For design professionals, this suite of tools remains a class act. Adobe’s CS5 introduces fresh refinements alongside Web-friendly features.
Norton Antivirus 2011
Antivirus software; $40 one-year, single-PC licenseIn our tests, Norton’s software posted consistently high malware detection scores. Its well-designed interface is easy to work with, as well.
Productivity software; free and $49 versions If you’re interested in mind mapping –a visual way of recording your great ideas–you can pay $349 for the gold standard, Mindjet’s Mindmanager, or you can pay nothing for the free edition of XMind.
The free version has all the basics, and it works on Windows, Mac, or Linux computers.| xmind.net
PC Tools Internet Security 2011
Security suite; $50 one-year, three-PC license This suite’s pricing makes it a great value, and it put up strong all-around malware detection scores in our tests.
Browser add-on; free This downloadable add-on for Firefox or Internet Explorer keeps track of where you go and what you read on the Web, and then creates a newsy home page with stories you’ll actually want to see. And don’t worry: The index stays on your local machine.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3
Image software; $300 In addition to offering tools that sort, organize, develop, and publish photos, version 3 enhances Lightroom’s flexibility with a new noise-reduction engine and improved RAW processing, as well as a streamlined workflow.
Operating system; free Ubuntu Linux is a great way to breathe new life into an aging PC or just break free from the world of commercial software. Better still, Linux is arguably the most secure PC platform you can choose.