I use testing version of Debian on both my laptop and desktop computers. Unfortunately most packages in testing are very old. Take OpenOffice for example, the version in testing repositories at the moment is 2.4 while the recent is 3.0.1. I think many other packages in repositories also share the same fate. It takes time for most recent packages to propagate from Unstable to Testing to Stable. When you want to install a recent version of a program, you have two choices: Either you compile from source or if there are binaries for your system you can use them. For example, if the distributors of the program provide you with .deb packages, you can download and install them. The downside with this method is that you have to keep track of bug fixes etc. and install newer versions yourself. If it were tracked with aptitude, a simple update would have updated your whole system. When you have many programs installed like this, it can get very cumbersome to keep track of all the packages you have installed without the help of apt-get. Fortunately, many programs also provide a way to update themselves automatically, from an option in their menus.

There is an easier method for installing more recent versions of programs by using apt-get and official Debian repositories. The way to do that is by using Unstable repositories for select programs. This way, apt-get will keep track of updates and dependencies so you can easily install now and update them later.

I won't be going into details but you can learn more about this by navigating to the links below: