You can't beat the value of Stellarium.
Stellarium is short and sweet, to the point, just the way I like an application.
It's rather short of features, compared with commercial programs like Starry Night Pro. There are a lot of times when you don't want to wait for Starry Night Pro and all it's features to load just to discover where a particular planet is located. What it does do, it does relatively well.
Stellarium can be extended with plugins, and comes with several out of the starting gate. I use the angle tool, computerized telescope support, and ocular extensively.
The computerized telescope support is lacking. It doesn't support ASCOM for total observatory integration, but it does support a number of telescopes, including CelestronSky-Watcher and Meade. The lack of a mouse interface to send slew commands to the telescope means you have to use the keyboard's hotkeys (CTRL-1 slews Telescope #1 to the currently selected point). Without a suitable mouse interface for this feature, it breaks workflow for many people (although hotkeys are faster in the long run).
Still, you can't beat free, and overall this is one of my favorite astronomy programs. I use it every day to educate people.
Videoconferencing is great. I'm happy with the overall communications.
Skype's client software is poorly designed. It lacks a suitable workflow, and is clunky. It lacks polish and finesse.
In spite of several updates to the v5.x branch, the interface hasn't become any better. In fact, it went from being just annoying and unfriendly, to abusive and lacking etiquette. For example, Skype always wants to open its windows on start, rather than keeping to the systray, thus causing the user to have to manually hide the window.
The best interface I've used is in Trillian Astra IM. It demonstrates a greater level of polish and improved workflow. The skinning is great - my favorite is the Avion Pro 5 skin.
The newest beta of Trillian v5.1 build 8 has native Skype support, with texting and voice calling working. Video calling and sound event support should come soon hopefully.
Skype needs to wipe out their current interface, and start over from scratch. This early-2000's interface style they insist on using doesn't cut it by today's standards. Out with the boring, and in with something that's modern, hip, and fun to use.
Free, as in restricted. I'm not a fan of companies/individuals calling something free, when it's less than free. Call it "limited" or "trialware" or "chicken soup".
This utility is fair, but I won't be using or recommending it. It doesn't hit the nail on the head for me.
Price: Free Trial ($19.95)
I've been using Trillian for a long time, and it's an excellent product.
What I like most is the ability to communicate with everyone I know across a diverse array of messenger services, without having to run 7 different programs.
That means my machine can run more efficient, and I can communicate more productively.
If they ported Trillian to Linux, I'd ditch Pidgin in a heartbeat. I prefer Trillian's interface.
I've been running MailEnable Standard since before v1.96.
It has been running reliably on my system. Sometimes I forget that I'm running a mail server, which is exactly what I want.
Thank you MailEnable developers!