A licence for Mathematica software in your office costs $1300 (Aus) and that of an extra licence for home use about $340. It is expensive but powerful software, although not very intuitive. Mathematica can do symbolic mathematics and is particular strong in graphics and in solving complex numerical problems, such as control tasks and differential equations.
The office version of the software is machine-independent so, if you change your machine, you should be able to reinstall the software without hassle. The only requirement is that this version should not be installed on more than one machine at a time and then linked to the Web. The home version is machine-dependent so you need to get permission from Wolfram (its owner) if you upgrade your hardware. This is a hassle as hardware upgrades occur quite frequently.
Wolfram are focused on preserving their property rights on the software but, in doing so, impose costs on users. Upgrades of Mathematica are a hassle on both home and office machines. It never seems to work right for me – today I spent an hour or so grappling with my office machine.
Carl Shapiro & Hal Varian point out, for sensible profit-maximising firms, the objective of enforcing property rights is to maximise profits not merely to feel aggrieved when rights are trampled upon. Overly strict enforcement of rights, such as requiring permissions to use when any aspect of your computer hardware changes, reduces the productivity of software and hence reduces its value to you. Given my repeated problems with Mathematica I feel like making a substitution into an alternative, such as Maple. A much less ambitious suite of maths software, that is very easy to use is Derive, which also has attractions.
Even given the inevitable greater learning costs of making the switch (not so great since I have never been a particularly competent user of Mathematica anyway) I might make a switch.