[STATISTICA] - Software selection for basic statistical analysis and SEM

Hello, everyone!

I'm new to this forum and I am very excited about this opportunity to learn from experienced people here and (hopefully) share knowledge about statistical analysis.

I'm a graduate student pursuing Ph.D. in Information Systems. My dissertation research involves using structural equation modeling (SEM-PLS) as a main data analysis method.

After comparing various software packages, I came to conclusion that the optimal solution for me would be to rent STATISTICA 12 (Ultimate Academic Bundle) in order to perform data analysis (basic statistical analysis and SEM) after data collection.

I have the following questions:

1. Is STATISTICA 12 an optimal choice? How does it compare with alternatives, such as R System (R's SEM packages do not have user-friendly GUI?), SPSS (too expensive?), WarpPLS and SmartPLS (narrow focus: mostly SEM?).

2. What are advantages and disadvantages of using STATISTICA's 64 bit version versus the 32 bit version?

3. Does STATISTICA 12 have a facility to perform and document pilot and main SEM studies?

Thank you in advance!