Roy will tell you that Photoshop Elements 3 (list price $99) is a great program. And I don’t doubt it, but I just discovered (in this Technology > Circuits > State of the Art: New Ways to Manage Your Photos” href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/20/technology/circuits/20stat.html?ex=1263877200&en=69b07a74d38a66be&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt”>New York Times article) that Picasa, the photo management software acquired by Google, is free. Free is less than $99, so I decided to try it.

I own copies of Photoshop Elements version 1 as well as an old version of ACDSee. They’re both good programs, and I use them both, but I’ve been looking recently for something that could do a few of the good things I like from each program. Picasa can. I was impressed when Adobe had decided to sell a low-priced version of Photoshop (that is, Elements), since this move would certainly cannibalize some of their sales of the higher end product. On the other hand, it would stabilize and perhaps grow their market on the low end. It was a bold move, and the software was good. But then here comes Google out of the blue with a really good really free competitor. Ouch!

Will no one stop this scourge of free software? As someone who writes software for a living, I am tickled and terrified by the prospect of free high-quality software. But the designs of Google are becoming more clear. They are making it awfully tempting to hop on the Google-wagon (Gmail, Blogger, Hello, Picasa, Keyhole) and stay there forever. Live the Google lifestyle and perpetual amusement will be yours.