Software upgrades for business

As we head into the fall, the software publishers are lining up their annual updated versions of the core Windows programs for businesses. Here are some of the ones that have come up on my radar screen.

  • Microsoft Windows 8  The official unveiling is October 26. I’ve been running Windows 8 on all my computers for months. I’ll be filling you in as we lead up to the launch.
  • Microsoft Office 2013  Not quite here yet but don’t forget – the new version of Office will likely appear in February 2013, with tablet versions of the Office programs to go along with an updated look and improved support for online file storage and collaboration.
  • Adobe Acrobat XI  The next version of Acrobat was just announced and is scheduled to ship “soon.” Adobe has reportedly improved the tools for editing PDFs and promises that many areas have simplified interfaces. (Here’s a run-through of ten features for legal professionals.) Although Adobe sells monthly subscriptions to many of its programs, Acrobat apparently will continue to be available only as an expensive purchase. The open question is whether Acrobat XI will be required for compatibility with Windows 8 or Office 2013, in the same way that Adobe forced upgrades to Acrobat X for compatibility with Office 2010.
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 & Adobe Premiere Elements 11  Adobe promises that the latest version of Photoshop Elements is easier to use. The words “Photoshop” and “easy to use” do not usually appear in the same sentence so I’m reserving judgment. (Don’t forget the invaluable tutorials if you need help getting started.) I’ve only used the new version of Photoshop Elements for a few days but it’s immediately apparent that it is much, much faster than the prior versions – faster to load, faster to switch between different parts of the program.
  • Quickbooks Pro 2013  The software everyone loves to hate has gotten its annual facelift. The home screen has been redesigned and simplified and Intuit is heavily promoting online apps that can extend access to Quickbooks through mobile apps on tablets and phones. The rule of thumb is to upgrade Quickbooks every three years to stay in Intuit’s support window. If you’re running Quickbooks 2010 or earlier versions, it’s time to upgrade. If you have a later version, study the features and the feedback to see if there’s a compelling reason to spend the money.
  • Quicken 2013  Just appeared on Amazon for download a few days ago. The new features look even less interesting than usual but like Quickbooks, upgrade every 2-3 years so Intuit will be there for support if you need them.
  • Dragon Naturally Speaking 12  Only incrementally improved from version 11.5, but every improvement helps. Accuracy and speed are both noticeably better than the previous version.

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