Back in the day — we're talking about the late 1980s and early 1990s — you could easily copy your old software programs (or somebody else's, if you didn't have strong feelings about software piracy) and reinstall them on your new PC. These days, however, software manufacturers are pretty strict about making sure that you've paid for every program that you use. That means you have to deactivate your programs and then transfer the licenses to your new computer.
Go through your old computer's software and make a list of the programs that you'll keep, and figure out the process for deactivating and transferring the programs. That can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer [source: Owen].
For Adobe Photoshop, for example, go to Creative Cloud, the company's online platform, and sign out of the program on your old PC. Then, install the software on your new machine and sign in [source: Adobe]. With iTunes, you actually have to deauthorize the copy of the software on your old machine, then sign in and authorize the program on your new machine before you can transfer your settings and iTunes purchases from Apple's cloud [source: Apple].