I've been in the game a while. I started in the mid-to-late 80's, with programs like Texture and Sequencer Plus Gold. Recorded to a Tascam 8-track with dbx, later with an Alesis ADAT, and did mixes to an Atari 1040ST running Hybrid Arts ADAP II.
Long, slow fade to a few years ago. Cakewalk Sonar (pre-Roland). Hangs and crashes. Lost sessions. Pushed through to the Roland acquisition era, still can't get what I need out of it.
Then, cue the angel chorus -- Reaper. $60 for a basic license? Built-in effects, native plugins that actually help my work flow, skins that make sense... and no hassle for upgrades? There's gotta be a catch, right?
The only catch is, you have to learn it. It's got a lot of features, and a lot of available customization, and it's easy for a rookie to get frustrated. Fortunately, the Cockos Reaper forum is full of helpful people who don't mind saying something besides "read the @#$%in' manual". There's lots of YouTube vids from actual pros who are using the program.
There will always be those who say,"it doesn't work like (a competitive program)." Well, if you can afford that program, grab it. But it will cost a lot more to do just about everything this one does.
Version 5 has improved the MIDI implementation considerably, and it's got one of the smallest data footprints I've ever seen, 8 MB (32-bit). It's backwards compatible to Windows XP... and it's cross-platform with OS X back to 10.5.
The demo is uncrippled, and there's no watermarks of any kind. What have you got to lose?