And oh boy, am I grateful to BW9 more than ever, right now! Those textual variants helped me prove John's dateline for each of his books (Gospel 1John Revelation, written 77 AD, 80AD and 89 AD, respectively; each Bible writer datelines his text by means of the meter, see my http://www.vimeo.com/channels/johnmeter if you want details). The variants were VERY easy to analyze, thanks to BW9. I'm so happy I could scream. Point is, if someone makes phony textual claims to discredit Bible (like Bart Ehrman), that module in particular -- all the variants displayed -- is a Godsend.
All the lexicons and other learning materials are called 'modules' too, and I love them all. Reading Bible in the original Hebrew and Greek (or other languages that are sometimes used), is like looking at God Face to Face. Can't live without it. Don't want to. On the other hand, it's easy to go overboard. Ask God what modules you best need 'now'. That will save you a lot of time.
Concerning multiple programs, I have the Logos version of TDNT (aka 'Big Kittel'), and while I love TDNT, I can't love the Logos interface. But many do. To me there's too much 'marketing', and the interface windowing is too arcane. Depends on your own style, though. Accordance has its fans, and I'm thinking of getting it also, but for me BW is king. You also might want to check out the free 'The Word' software, which is customizable and structured like Bibleworks.
Concerning search: really, just type a period in the search box, followed by the words you want. I've been using BW for over 10 years and never had to use the more sophisticated search engine. BW is good at bringing up synonyms, if you search all in the same language version, and you have a number of Bibles in that same language version, installed. BW8 and 9 are a bit more cumbersome in that now you get this popup window of the occurrences in each version that you have to close, before you can look at the search results. The first time you call up the program you might not get search results, but do the search again and they show up.
Concerning online theology forums, well.. it depends on your beliefs, frankly. I'm pre-Trib Dispie, so I'm not welcome in any Reformed forum, no matter how nicely I behave. By contrast, if I go to the Rapture or prophecy forums, or even any doctrine forums where folks share the same 'take' on Scripture, convo there is way too simple for me. This is the best of the forums I've found, frankly, but then your experience might differ, depending on what topics interest you. And if you are interested in Greek, then the B-Greek forum is of extreme value. You can't post unless willing to disclose your real name. So I don't post there, but anyone can read.
Hope this long answer helps. Yell at me if it doesn't. Welcome to BW and this forum!