groups, consumer evaluation Web sites, and blogs and offline through discussions with those whose expertise you trust.
3. Gauge the difference between the benefits of the new and what you already have.
4. Tally the costs to upgrade, including the price of the software, the time it takes to install it, the likelihood of glitches, the need for training, and whether hardware should also be upgraded to better match the software.
5. Determine whether and when you'll be losing technical support for your old software. Software companies are increasingly discontinuing support for older products, to cut their costs and to motivate users to buy upgrades. If you rely on that support, you may not have a choice.
Reid Goldsborough is a syndicated columnist and author of the book Straight Talk About the Information Superhighway. He can be reached at email@example.com or http://www.netaxs.com/~reidgold/column.