Installing Maxsea was a no-brainer, but it requires a connection to the Internet for registration purposes. Maxsea uses a USB key dongle attached to a USB port to prevent piracy. One of the things I liked about Maxsea was its modular design. Users are able to buy and load specialized modules after the program has been installed. The performance and routing module is aimed at racers, but the routing will be a welcome addition to any boat that sails offshore. Maxsea is an extremely capable, powerful, and feature-laden program, and it will probably take a user some time to get used to, but is well worth the effort. Maxsea supports AIS as well as weather GRIBs.
I've been using various versions of Nobeltec's nav software for almost a decade, so it was hard to look with complete objectively at its two offerings, Visual Navigation Suite 9.0 (the base price is $490) and Admiral 9.0 (prices start at $1,200). Jeppesen, a big name in the aircraft-navigation software industry, recently bought Nobeltec and has been steadily upgrading its marine software. Suffice it to say that these are both extremely capable programs, with proprietary Passport charts that are prime examples of what vector charts should be. Both programs read a long list of raster formats, GRIB files, and AIS, but only Admiral 9.0 supports radar. Nobeltec offers add-on modules called Plus Packs. There are Plus Packs for performance, weather (which includes built-in software to automatically retrieve GRIB files from various sources, including Ocens and XM radio's WxWorx), and bathymetric recording, which takes data from your depth sounder and turns it into a database. Both versions of Nobeltec also have great real-time tide and current software and a trip planner, which takes into account tides when predicting arrival times.