My Top 10 Commercial Programs

Ok, I’ll admit it – I don’t have many “commercial” programs on my PC. Not because I’m a software thief, but simply because there are so many good freeware equivalents available. Therefore this bunch is a bit eclectic. So, in alphabetic order…

ABBYY FineReader

A “lite” version of this came with my scanner and even this is excellent at reading and interpreting text into an electronic format. I often transfer old show programmes onto the BMTG site, and being able to scan them in and convert straight into text to paste onto the site is a god-send. Are there any freeware OCR packages?

Acronis TrueImage

A backup program, yes, but also a splendid program for making disk images. And the latest version can be found for a real bargain (often under £18).

ArcSoft Panorama Maker

Unless you have a product that already has easy-to-use panorama facilities built-in, then this comes highly recommended. It will stitch photos together to make panoramas but, most importantly, it’s incredibly easy to use.


You really can’t beat the satisfaction of knowing that any backup you make is safe and secure, no matter what happens. Those CD’s and hard disks you’ve backed all your precious photos onto – where are they stored? What if there’s a house fire? Sobering thought.

Carbonite sits in your system tray and silently backups all your files to a remote location. Space is unlimited.


A TV guide application that does, well, pretty much anything you can think of (and if it can’t, there’s a raft of plugins available to help you out). And less than £10 a year.

I’ve used it for years and wouldn’t be without it. Use the link above for a 30 day free trial.

Microsoft Money

It hasn’t been updated for years in the UK (come on Microsoft!) but it’s a valuable tool for getting your personal finances under control. If you can find a copy (eBay?), go for it!

Microsoft Office 2007

For some, a controversial choice as this appears to be a bit of a Marmite product. But I love it. It takes a while to get used to – and I’m still annoyed at how hard it is to insert and delete rows and columns in Excel, compared to how I had the older versions of Office – but it’s improved ease of use and increased functionality makes up for this.

And, yes, yes, OpenOffice is free. But it’s not a patch on this.

Paint Shop Pro

Ah, yes, the original and best. It’s not half as expensive as its rivals but I wouldn’t be without it. Personally, I’m still using version 5.

So, yes, it’s a graphics editor. The current versions are so much more too, with expertise in photo editing and the like, and are way up there with Photoshop, but at a fraction of the price.

I tend to use Photoshop for actual image work, whereas I use Photoshop for photos.

Photoshop Elements

I’ve just bought this after reading rave reviews pretty much everywhere. And, without much of a manual, I’ve had to buy myself. When I get through it, I’ll let you know more fully, but it looks pretty damn good (and the panorama facility will probably make me throw away the aforementioned ArcSoft product).

However, as sods law would have it, I’ve just bought version 6 and, wouldn’t you know it, version 7 is now about to be released (there’s a link on to the side where you can pre-order it).

Windows XP

Yes, Windows XP. I wouldn’t want to touch Vista with a barge-pole. And as much a geek as I am, I don’t get on with Linux. XP is stable and easy-to-use.

Posted by David Artiss

Enterprise Happiness Engineer for the WordPress VIP team at Automattic. Gamer, film lover and general fan of all things Marvel, Star Trek and Star Wars. Failed comedian. Writer for The Big Tech Question. World's Greatest Grandma.

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