Last time, we took a good look at some computer hardware that might be a nice holiday gift for someone on your gift list. While a tablet purchase is almost certainly on everyone's radar, I know that standard desktop and laptop hardware is also a definite possibility, especially for graduating high school seniors going away to college next Fall.
The big question that is on everyone's mind is likely – What software do I purchase for my new laptop? Do I have to stick with the OS that it came with, or can I upgrade it from Windows Vista to Windows 7? I have a trial version of (pick a Microsoft Office 2007/2010 component) on my hard drive, and I want the whole thing. What is the easiest way to get that without pirating it? I'm glad you asked, kids, because I've got a couple of suggestions that are certain to help you get rid of the bloatware and get to the GOOD software that everyone is craving.
Windows Computer? Get the Good Stuff!
One of the things that I learned early on was that Microsoft software drives the US business world. Kids need to learn how to use it in order to insure that they get a decent job when they get out of college. The problem here is that historically, Microsoft Office Suite has been an expensive purchase. Most schools use it, most of the people reading this article use it at the office; and most schools use it. It is the defacto office suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, personal databases, etc.
Prices for Microsoft Office 2010 can be seen here. Prices for Microsoft Windows 7 can be seen here. While most Windows licenses are purchased with a computer, upgrades are usually a separate purchase. Office is usually not included with a new PC, unless its a trial version (and will require a full purchase when the trial period ends). If you were to buy a copy of Office 2010 Home & Business, you’d give $279.99. If you were to also buy one upgrade of Windows 7 Home Premium for an existing PC in your home, you’d give $119.99. Add both of those together an you’d hit $400 before tax (all based on MSRP).
Thankfully, there’s a better solution, and its available to everyone – a TechNet Subscription.
|Microsoft TechNet – The best way to get MS software!|
For as little as $199, you can get access of (effectively) all of the MS software you could ever want or need. Depending on the annual subscription you buy, you can get multiple installation keys that can be used on multiple PC’s for multiple products.
If you purchase TechNet Standard and download and install one copy of Windows 7 Ultimate (MSRP $219.99), the subscription has paid for itself. Download and install one copy of Office Professional 2010 (MSRP $499.99), and the subscription has paid for itself two and a half times. Download and install both in the same session… well, you get the picture.
Again, the subscriptions are annual, and interestingly enough, while you may only get 2 product codes of some products, you get to install each product code on up to 10 computers each. That’s 20 copies…enough for your entire family and all of their computers.
This, my friends, is the biggest no brainer of the year, and by far beats any educational discount, or “Office for $10 bucks” deal you can get through work. If you have both Macs and PC’s at home, you’ll be interested to know that Microsoft has included Office 2011 for Mac in their TechNet Standard subscription. I was able to download and install that application on my MacBook as part of my subscription (effectively for free); and again, saving $279.99 (MSRP).
TechNet is a Microsoft software subscription service, and you can research all the details and make a purchase here.
Additional Desktop and Laptop Software
Most everyone is going to be getting some kind of electronic goodie for <insert your Year End Holiday of Choice here>. Here are some of my favorites with download and/or purchasing links to some of the best prices I could find.
Graphic/Picture Editing Software
- DropBox (Mac, Windows, Linux)
- Windows Live Mesh (Mac, Windows (Part of Windows Live Essentials 2011)
Software for Tablets
Tablets will be on many a holiday wish list this year, and unfortunately, many tablets are tied to the marketplaces that make up their ecosystem. The best way to give iPad software is to purchase an iTunes Gift Card. Unfortunately, purchasing Android software for a new Android smartphone or tablet owner isn’t as easy. The Android Market, included on nearly every Android device, doesn’t have a way that I know of to either purchase credits/gift cards, so unfortunately, if you want to gift Android software you’re going to have to figure out another way.