Not so. In the years since, almost all of the new programs I've acquired have been freeware or shareware. When I find something I like, I make a donation or register the product (and shareware created by independent designers is often very modestly-priced compared to the big-bucks versions on the market.) The next time my Microsoft Office program becomes outdated and/or Publishing demands I upgrade, I think I'm going to switch over to Open Office instead (trying to keep up with the way Microsoft keeps changing Word, which becomes more difficult to use every year, is just not worth the aggravation.)
Here's a list of the pricier programs and some free/low-cost alternatives that may serve just as well:
Adobe Acrobat - $449.00 and up; free fully functional 30 day trial.
Free Alternative: PDF995 - a free PDF maker trio suite with many of the same features as Adobe; installs as a print driver and shows a sponsor page in your web browser every time you use the freeware version (to skip the ads, buy the product from $9.95 for one program to $19.95 for the entire trio.)
Adobe Photoshop: $999.00 and up; no free trial version that I could find
Free Alternatives: GIMP or Paint.net -- both are free image and photo retouching freeware with many of the most desirable photoshop features; Paint.net was originally developed to be a free replacement for Microsoft Paint and grew from there.
Carbonite - $54.95/year for unlimited online backup space; 15 day free trial
Free Alternative: Dropbox* - 2GB online and backup storage; offers pro accounts with more storage you can buy for a monthly subscription fee. (Windows, Mac, Linux and iPhone)
Microsoft Office: $169.95 and up; 60 day free trial of Office 2007 available
Free Alternative: Open Office - free software comparable to and compatible with Microsoft Office, offering Writer (the word processor), a spreadsheet, database program, drawing program, and presentation program.
Microsoft Outlook: included in Microsoft Office above and part of the free 60 day trial package.
Free Alternative: Chaos Manager -- a compact and easy-to-use virtual calendar and PIM freeware. I've been using this one since January and I absolutely love it because it has exactly the features I need.
QuickBooks: $159.95 and up; free to try online.
Free Alternative: GNUcash is a personal/small business accounting freeware for GNU/Linux, BSD, Solaris, Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows; includes what you need to manage bank accounts, stocks, income and expenses.
The downside to using freeware is that you don't get all the bells and whistles as you do with the big-name, huge pricetag programs. Also it's often difficult to impossible to get tech support for freeware. So if you like all the extra options, and you want to pick up the phone and get answers whenever you have a problem, these freeware programs are probably not right for you.
*Thanks to Charlene Teglia and her helpful article on backups here for the link as well as her frequent recs for GIMP.