There is SageLight which is a good deal now at US$39.95 which buys into all later versions of the program. Sagelight Image Editor
I downloaded a copy and it does have quite a lot of nice features.
However, I'm not buying since I can't get my rusty old head around the way it works w/o layers (it uses masking and a selective Undo brush instead).
Free programs, there is GIMP and Paint.net
For others, there is the sticky on this sub-forum with plenty of good recommendations.
Have been using Irfranview as my "first to go " photo editing/viewing program since 1996. It's completely free, loads blazingly fast, can read exif etc and even supports RAW files. Best of all it is extremely ez to use. I use it when I don't need to do extensive retouch w Adobe Lightroom/Photoshop. I highly recommend it ! :thumbsup:
The fastest way is a download form Adobe using a credit card. The box is just decoration. Next, read up about display calibration, get at least a basic one (e.g. Spyder 3 or the recent Spyder 4), otherwise all editing work is in vain if your display does not show the colours as encoded in the image. Another topic is 'embedded ICC profiles' .. and you will understand why Windows Photo Viewer is nothing you want to use for your images.
Lightroom has a large user base with a dedicated Lightroom Forum, but even the standard online help gives plenty of support.