Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft’

Microsoft Releases Office 2016

Posted on: September 30th, 2015 by jiml | No Comments

Microsoft announced that Office 2016 is available as of September 2015. If you are an Office 365 user, your software will update automatically over a period of time as Microsoft rolls out the software to its user base. This is one of the major benefits of Office 365: no more buying Microsoft Office every few years if you have purchased one of the Office 365 subscriptions that include Office licensing.

Apple Mac OS X users will also enjoy Office 2016 as it provides a look and feel that will be more similar to the Windows versions. This is a nice improvement for Mac users.

For Windows users, which make up a large majority of Microsoft Office users, if you are worried about user productivity, the core functions of Office, like Excel, Word, PowerPoint and Outlook operate much in the same manner as in Office 2013 and even Office 2010. There should not be a major learning curve when upgrading to the new version. An important note is that Office 2016 does not support Exchange 2007, so it is important to know this before moving ahead.

There are some new features that we think you will like. Outlook users will like the improved performance and searching capabilities. Word users will now be able to collaborate on documents, meaning multiple users can modify a document simultaneously. This functionality has long been available in Google Docs but missing in Office. Office 2016 brings this functionality. Excel users will also have some new chart types to use.

Another benefit of Office 2016 is the Office software is available on a variety of mobile platforms (iPhone, iPad, Android phones, Android tablets, and Windows Phone) in addition to the aforementioned Mac and PC environments. An Office 365 subscription is required if you want to edit files with the mobile apps.

Visit our web site here and get your employees up-to-date on what is new in Office 2016 as shown below:

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Need help determining if Office 2016 or Office 365 are right for your business? Call us at (888) 600-4560, email us, or see us on Facebook or Twitter and let our experts help your business choose the right productivity suite for your business.







Out with the Old, in with the New: Your Guide to Windows 10 – Part 2

Posted on: February 27th, 2015 by billp | No Comments

In last month’s blog post, we covered the end of mainstream support for Windows 7 and the very interesting news surrounding Windows 10 – in particular that the update to Windows 10 will be free for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users for the first year after Windows 10’s release.

It’s great news that you can upgrade to Windows 10 for free for a limited time, but do you really want to? What new and compelling features are available in Windows 10 to drive you to upgrade?

The biggest feature of Windows 10 that will satisfy most users is the return of the Start Menu. This isn’t the Start Menu you remember from Windows 7, but rather a blending of the approaches from Windows 7 and Window 8.x, resulting in a Start Menu with live tiles on the side.

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For touch-centric devices (large-screen desktops, tablets, etc.), the Start Menu can be expanded to full-screen for a more touch-friendly approach a la Windows 8.x.

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Windows 10 further pushes the concept of “Universal Apps” that was introduced with Windows 8. Universal apps allow developers to create solutions that target a vast variety of devices, PCs, and even Xbox. What this means for consumers and businesses that adopt an all-Microsoft computing approach is faster application releases with more universal compatibility across your traditional PCs and mobile devices right out of the gate, and more consistent interfaces across those devices (less user training). Universal apps can sync and share data seamlessly with OneDrive (Microsoft’s file and folder sync solution) and can finally narrow the “app gap” (i.e. fewer apps for Windows Phone than for iOS and Android) and make Windows Phone a good alternative to iOS and Android. The first universal apps will be from Microsoft, including most of the Office suite as well as default Windows apps like Photos, Videos, Music, Maps, People & Messaging, and Mail & Calendar.

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Windows 10 packs hundreds of new features to improve usability and productivity, and here are some of the highlights.

Continuum – For hybrid/detachable PCs such as the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, Continumm provides a seamless transition between traditional PC and tablet states. Apps live in windows on the desktop in the former, and run full-screen in the latter.

Cortana – Introduced in Windows Phone 8.1, Cortona is a voice assistant that competes with Google’s Google Now and Apple’s Siri. You can use Cortana to speak to your PC to take actions, take notes, set appointments, among other capabilities.

Spartan – Windows 10 will ship with a new web browser code-named Spartan. Spartan will replace Internet Explorer as the default browser, but Internet Explorer will be retained for compatibility reasons. Spartan will include a streamlined interface, web clipping and sharing, Word-like commenting features, keyboard or pen annotation support, and touch support (something which no PC browser currently does well). Support for browser extensions similar to Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome is coming soon.

Windows Store apps in Windows – Microsoft said that Windows Store apps (a.k.a. Modern UI or Metro apps) and regular desktop programs will both run in traditional windows in Windows 10. The programs can be resized and minimized from the bar at the top. In Windows 8.x, Windows Store apps could only run full-screen.

Multiple desktops – Windows 10 will feature something Mac and UNIX (Linux, etc.) users have taken advantage of for years: multiple desktops. This feature allows you to create new desktop workspaces in Windows 10 to organize your open applications. For example, you could have a desktop for basic productivity applications and a separate desktop for design applications (Adobe Creative Cloud or similar). Or you could have web browsers on one desktop, Outlook on another, and financial applications on a third. This feature allows you to organize your workspace to help you work as productively as possible.

Windows 10 for phones and small tablets – Windows 10 will be spread across multiple device types, so Microsoft is dropping the Windows Phone branding and will be consistent with a Windows 10 that works on phones and tablets with screens smaller than 8-inches. The former Windows RT (Windows on ARM processor devices) is nowhere to be seen.

Office universal apps – Windows 10 for phones and small tablets will include free Office universal apps – Word, Excel and PowerPoint, plus Outlook Mail and Outlook Calendar. Initial impressions are that these are powerful apps which exceed the capabilities of the Office for Mobile apps that currently exist for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. These apps also clearly align with Microsoft’s strategy of “mobile first, cloud first, Windows best,” which will appease those hard-core Microsoft product users who have complained that and Office for iOS and Android product are better than anything Microsoft currently offers for their own mobile platforms.

This information is just scratching the surface of what Windows 10 has to offer, and Microsoft plans to release even more information at upcoming technical conferences. Microsoft says it will ship Windows 10 sometime later in 2015, with end-of-summer being a repeated target. In the meantime, Colden Company is working with the Windows 10 Technical Preview and is taking part in the Windows Insider Program so we are ready to support our customers with information, upgrade and deployment guidance, hardware recommendations, and anything else you can think of when Windows 10 is ready.

Are you interested in moving to Windows 10 for free when it becomes available? Are you interested in moving to Windows 8.1 and leaving Windows 7 behind? Have you been thinking about Windows Phone and want to know more? Colden Company is ready to help you with these questions and many more. Call us at (888) 600-4560 or email us at info@coldencompany.com, or see us on Facebook or Twitter to get your Microsoft tools in top shape.







Out with the Old, in with the New: Your Guide to Windows 10 – Part 1

Posted on: January 28th, 2015 by billp | No Comments

Microsoft has been in the news quite a bit over the past month, with stories about Windows old and new capturing the attention of consumers and businesses worldwide.

The first big news story concerned support for Windows 7. On January 13, 2015, Microsoft’s mainstream support for Windows 7 Service Pack (SP) 1 ended. This caused quite a stir after the recent retirement of Windows XP, with users fearing that Windows 7 would be facing a similar fate in the near future. All I have to say is… DON’T PANIC!!!

The end of mainstream support does not mean Microsoft is going to stop issuing security fixes for Windows 7 SP1 any time soon. “Mainstream support” is the period during which Microsoft provides free security and non-security updates for its products. “Extended support” – the phase that Windows 7 is entering now – is the period during which Microsoft continues to provide free security updates for products. Extended support for Windows 7 SP1 does not end until January 14, 2020, so everyone can rest easy.

For businesses, January 13 deadline also has no impact on the end-of-sales date for PCs running Windows 7 Professional. Microsoft has not provided a date when Windows 7 Professional will no longer be shipped to retailers or OEMs (HP, Dell, Lenovo, etc.). Microsoft have said they will provide one-year notice prior to end-of-sale.

Of course, any major support milestone should prompt forwarding-thinking business owners and IT professionals to consider the question of “what’s next?” Windows 8 received a lukewarm reception from users who decried the loss of the Start Menu, confusing interface changes, poor convergence of traditional PCs and touch-centric devices (hybrid laptops, tablets, etc.), among many other complaints. Many of these complaints are surface-level and ignore many of the significant “under-the-hood” improvements in Windows 8.x, but perception often becomes reality. Much as Windows Vista (also oft-maligned) led to Windows 7, Windows 8.x is paving the path to a significantly-improved Windows experience in Windows 10.

Microsoft held a major press event on Wednesday, January 21, 2015 – which has received nearly universal praise – where they unveiled the latest pre-release update of Windows 10 for PCs, tablets, and phones. Microsoft also made news with some impressive new gadgets such as the powerful team collaboration device, Surface Hub, and the groundbreaking holographic computing device, HoloLens, but most business users are, for now, interested in what’s coming for the Windows platform. The bottom line is this – Windows is getting more frequent, free updates; it’s going to work better across desktops, laptops, and tablets; and Microsoft is finally making Windows Phone more attractive for users deep in the Windows world.

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One of the biggest announcements has nothing to do with the technology behind Windows 10, but rather with the price of Windows 10. Windows 10 will be free for customers running Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows Phone 8.1 during the first year of Windows 10’s life cycle. This is basically a promotional offer designed to improve adoption of Windows 10. However, there are some considerations – particularly for businesses. Microsoft stated “once a Windows device is upgraded to Windows 10, we will continue to keep it current for the supported lifetime of the device – at no additional charge.” This suggests that keeping Windows 10 up-to-date going forward is not optional; updates to the operating system from Microsoft will be mandatory. This concept of “Windows as a Service” will make version numbers less important going forward, and will allow Microsoft and developers to target a common and consistent user base. While this makes sense for consumers, businesses – who want more control over when updates are installed, which updates are installed, and which features are made available to employees – will never buy into this approach, and Microsoft knows it. Managed businesses can still license Windows 10 using traditional methods and self-service. One thing is for sure – if Microsoft intends to mandate updates and patches for the lifetime of devices, Windows Updates needs to be quicker and more reliable.

Next month, we’ll cover some of the new features you can look forward to in Windows 10. In the meantime, are you thinking about what the next step beyond Windows 7 is for your business? Have you left Windows XP behind for good (we certainly hope so!). Are you interested in moving to Windows 8.1? Colden Company is ready to help you with these questions and many more. Call us at (888) 600-4560 or email us at info@coldencompany.com, or see us on Facebook or Twitter to get your Microsoft tools in top shape.







Tablets and Your Business

Posted on: September 30th, 2014 by billp | No Comments

Since the iPad was first introduced in 2010, we’ve witnessed explosive growth in the market for the first truly new piece of personal technology since the PC: the tablet computer. The industry has even coined the term “Post-PC Era” to note the decline in sales of traditional PCs in favor of new devices such as tablets and, to a lesser degree, smartphones and phablets. Dozens of manufacturers make dozens of sizes and shapes of tablets, but they all share the same common ground: they are touchscreen slates that don’t need a keyboard and mouse.

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According to an IC Insights report, total shipments of personal computing systems (desktops, notebooks, tablets, and Internet/cloud units) are forecast to rise 12% in 2014 to 585 million units compared to 521 million in 2013. However, the market for standard PCs (desktops, notebooks) continues to be sluggish in 2014, causing IC Insights to forecast a 5% decline for these systems to 298 million this year. The gap is made up of Post-PC Era devices such as tablets, and the growth in tablets only increases as IC Insights forecasts out to 2017.

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With the market for tablets and similar devices growing so aggressively, and software developers and accessory manufacturers coming up with increasingly creative ways to take advantage of the platform, we’ve only scratched the surface of what we can do with tablets. Where tablets were once seen as “consumption devices” (i.e. used to watch video, read books, play games, etc. – consume content), we have reaches a point where tablets have very real and measurable business benefits.

As noted in a recent Wall Street Journal article, a recent survey of 100 CIOs in the U.S. and Europe by Barclays PLC shows increased support for tablets, which in many cases are moving from limited trial rollouts to broader deployments. 97% of the respondents said they are interested in or are already supporting the use of tablets in the enterprise, either through BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) or COD (Company-Owned Device) initiatives. The survey found that PCs remain the lowest-rated spending priority among CIOs and tablet deployment was “key” within their organizations.

The Barclays survey also noted that Apple, with iOS and its iPad line, was clearly the preferred vendor among those surveyed, with Microsoft and its venerable Windows next, beating out Google’s Android.

Apple iOS

Apple, with its iPad Air and iPad Mini product lines, are synonymous with tablets in the minds of many consumers. Apple was first to market with a truly innovative tablet design, and their early lead has given them the attention of consumers, business leaders, and software developers.

Apple has their eye on the business market to further strengthen their market position. We’ve written in the past about the use of an iPad for business, but the landscape – both in terms of hardware and apps, has changed much since we first wrote about the topic in late 2011. Apple’s recently-released iOS 8 operating system has in increased focus on the enterprise, with notable business-oriented features such as expanded data encryption, email encryption options, data management and content filtering, and new device management capabilities. Lesser-known business-oriented services offered by Apple include Volume Purchase Program (VPP), allowing businesses to buy and deploy apps, and the Device Enrollment Program (DEP), allowing businesses to pre-enroll devices with Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions at the time of purchase.

Apple is also capturing the attention of other key players in the technology industry. In July 2014, Apple announced that it would partner with IBM to develop business applications specifically for iPhones and iPads, and IBM also said it would sell Apple products with those built-in apps to clients around the globe.

Google Android

While Apple’s iOS devices may have the mind-share of the world, Google’s Android operating system has the largest market share by a large margin. Android, unlike iOS, is licensed to third-party manufacturers such as Samsung, LG, Motorola, and many others who release their own devices in many shapes and sizes – and not only smartphones and tablets. Android powers wearables, TVs, and cars. Google’s recently launched Android One initiative promises to enable access to quality Android devices in emerging markets, opening up Android to potentially millions of new customers. With more market share comes more developers of apps, services, and accessories, and Google is playing the long-game with Android, making it the dominant operating system to make sure it gets the most attention.

Google (through partnerships), Samsung, and LG all make high-quality Android tablets. Each manufacturer puts their unique stamp on their tablet devices since the market for Android devices is more open than Apple and iOS. The Nexus 7, manufactured for Google by Asus, is a very popular low-cost 7” tablet running “pure Android” (i.e. no manufacturer customizations). Moving to a higher screen size, Samsung offers the Galaxy Tab S with a stunning 8.4” display and some Samsung-specific innovations in Android. If you’re really looking for a large screen, Samsung offers the Galaxy Note Pro with a massive 12.2” display and stylus for pen-based input.

Like Apple, Google is very focused on the business market. Google’s upcoming next release of Android, currently named “Android L” (Android releases have all been named after desserts or sweets, and the “L” name hasn’t been decided on yet) has a focus on business-oriented features, collectively dubbed “Android for Work.” Android devices will have the ability to partition personal data from work data, making it easier for businesses to monitor apps and data being used for work-related purposes and control what happens to that data. This is particularly valuable to businesses that have embraced BYOD, because now there can be an area for personal information and a completely separate, controlled, and managed area for business data on the same device. Android L will also have full-device encryption enabled by default, keeping both business and personal data safe.

Microsoft Windows

While Microsoft is currently a lesser player in the explosive mobile market, they are actually one of the earliest players in the tablet market. Starting with Windows for Pen Computing for Windows 3.1 in 1991, Microsoft has been a proponent of tablet and pen-based computing for decades. Starting with Windows XP, Microsoft adopted the Microsoft Tablet PC name. Tablet support was added to both Home and Business versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7. Following Tablet PC, Microsoft announced the Ultra-mobile PC initiative in 2006 which brought Windows tablets to a smaller, touch-centric form factor.

Windows 8, which we have written about in detail, marked a major change in Microsoft’s approach to Windows and tablet computing. Windows 8 was the first major – and very ambitious – change to the Windows user interface (UI) since Windows 95 almost two decades earlier and was met with mixed reviews because it significantly changed the way we interact with our PCs. Traditional PC users complained – quite vocally – that Microsoft was forcing a mobile-first experience that they did not want and disrupting their ability to use their PCs. However, one thing was and is sure – Microsoft is fully committed to merging mobile and traditional PC computing, and Windows 8 was the first leap forward in that revolution.

Love it or hate it, Windows 8 is here to stay in one form or another. Microsoft’s next release of Windows, codenamed “Threshold,” and assumed to be Windows 9, is targeting at calming the problems introduced by Windows 8 in businesses, notably training costs by forcing a completely different interface on users (hint – the Start menu is coming back). Microsoft’s next version of its venerable Office suite, codenamed “Gemini,” is widely-rumored to be touch-first, making it much easier to use than traditional Office on a tablet.

While Microsoft is refining its approach to mobile, one thing is clear – the easiest integration of tablets into the business is through tablets based on Windows 8.1 Pro (not Windows RT, which is incompatible with standard PC software). Tablets based on Windows 8.1 Pro integrate into your business just as a desktop or notebook would, using the same software, same management tools, same security, etc. For all intents and purposes, they are PCs in a different size and shape. Many Windows tablets also help to bridge the notebook/tablet gap with familiar form factors that blend two designs, such at the Microsoft Suface Pro 3 and Dell Venue 11 Pro.

For more about the laptop versus tablet discussion, read our recent blog post on the topic.

Now that you know who the key market players are, the real question for your business is what do you want to do with your tablets?  Picking a mobile operating system or tablet before you know what you want to do with it is a recipe for project failure. Carefully think about the following questions as you think about your tablet goals.

  1. Do you want to access files from your office file server from your tablet?
  2. Do you want to access your office PC from your tablet (e.g. remote desktop)?
  3. Do you want to be able to print from your tablet to your office printers?
  4. Do you want to access your entire office network (servers, PCs, printers, etc.) from your tablet over a Virtual Private Network (VPN)?
  5. Do you need access to specific line-of-business apps on your tablet?
  6. Will the tablet be owned and managed by the business (i.e. company-owned device)?
  7. If you decide to allow BYOD, what will happen to your business data if the employee no longer works for you?
  8. If a tablet is lost or stolen with your business data on it, what will you do?

The answers to these questions – and many others – will guide your decision about which mobile operating system and apps you need to succeed. We suggest starting with a pilot program (one or two devices) before embarking on any large-scale mobile deployment. This will prove the concept and work out any problems before you deploy on a larger scale.

Mobile projects can be complex, but can also have measurable ROI in terms of employee productivity, device cost savings, and many other areas. Colden Company has written extensively on integrating tablets, and mobile in general, into your business in the past. From BYOD, to mobile safety and security, to mobile security policies, to mobile strategy, we’ve covered it all. If you want to manage your mobile devices running iOS, Android, or Windows, we’ve discussed our Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution.

Bottom line – Colden Company has the experience to help you succeed with your tablet and mobile initiatives. Contact us at 888-600-4560, via email at info@coldencompany.com, or via Facebook or Twitter. We’ll get your message on our tablets!






Windows 8.1 and the Evolution of PC Computing

Posted on: October 30th, 2013 by billp | No Comments

Back in December 2011, we wrote about Microsoft Windows 8 and the Tablet Market. At that time, Windows 8 was just around the corner, hardware manufacturers were experimenting with new types of devices, and we were unsure how it was all going to come together. Windows 8 was the first major – and very ambitious – change to the Windows user interface (UI) since Windows 95 almost two decades earlier and was met with mixed reviews because it significantly changed the way we interact with our PCs. Traditional PC users complained – quite vocally – that Microsoft was forcing a mobile-first experience that they did not want and disrupting their ability to use their PCs. However, one thing was and is sure – Microsoft is fully committed to merging mobile and traditional PC computing, and Windows 8 was the first leap forward in that revolution.

Microsoft released Windows 8.1 on October 17, 2013. Microsoft is committed to more rapid updates to Windows instead of major upgrades every three years, and Windows 8.1 is the first proof that they are serious about that, with Windows 8.1 coming only about a year after the release of Windows 8.

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Don’t expect any undoing of the major UI changes unveiled in Windows 8. Instead, Windows 8.1 represents a more refined version of Microsoft vision to marry mobile and traditional PCs; mobile devices take center stage instead of traditional PCs, and apps backed by cloud services take the focus away from heavy desktop applications with local storage. Microsoft hasn’t taken away a user’s ability to use a Windows 8.x PC just like a Windows 7 PC, but the foundation is there to allow users to use their PCs in the new-generation cloud-backed computing world, behind the firewall on a business network with local or server-based storage, or even both.

Again, make no mistake – Microsoft is fully and firmly committed to the future direction they started in with Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 makes few compromises. Instead, it adds a lot of refinement that should please both those ready to embrace mobile-first computing and those wanting to have a more traditional PC experience. Some of the changes in Windows 8.1 include

  • The Start button is on the desktop! This is not the Start Menu we all know and love from Windows 95 through Windows 7. Rather, this button will take you to the Windows 8.1 Start screen where you can select apps to launch. To further ease the transition, you can set the Start button to show the Apps view instead of the Start screen when you click, and even list traditional desktop apps first.

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  • You can boot directly to the desktop instead of the Start screen, addressing one of the biggest complaints from traditional PC users, especially in business environments.

  • The Start screen now has more customization options, with multiple tiles sizes, more graphical personalization options, and less error-prone layout changes.

  • More Control Panel features are available in the Metro-based UI, allowing mobile users to avoid using the traditional Control Panel to make changes.

  • Search has been expanded into Smart Search, which combines local PC search with Bing-based web search results.

  • SkyDrive cloud storage is more integrated than ever, with a much-improved sync engine built directly into Windows 8.1. Sync loads icons and the minimum information necessary to identify a file, then downloads the full file on-the-fly when you open it. You can set individual files and folders to always be available offline, or even set your full SkyDrive instance to be offline. Your settings and apps are also on SkyDrive, allowing you to move from Windows 8.1 PC to Windows 8.1 PC seamlessly.

  • All of the built-in apps (Mail, Calendar, People, etc.) have received updates to

These are just a few highlights of the changes in Windows 8.1. Best of all, Windows 8.1 is a free update for Windows 8 users. Just go to the Windows Store and download it online.

Hardware makers are rapidly innovating as well, announcing new PC and tablet form factors and hybrids to take advantage of the hybrid nature of Windows 8.x. Microsoft refined their own Surface Pro with the Surface Pro 2. Sony and Dell are competing directly with the Surface Pro with the Sony VAIO Tap 11 Tablet PC and Dell Venue 11 Pro. Lenovo is really throwing out the PC/tablet/hybrid design rulebook with offerings like the Yoga Pro 2 and IdeaPad Yoga 11S.

If you use a Windows 8 PC, the upgrade to 8.1 is highly recommended. If you’re using an older version of Windows and are put off by the UI changes in Windows 8.x, it’s fair to say that your opinion is unlikely to change with Windows 8.1. That said, Microsoft is working to make the transitions less abrupt and jarring when switching between Modern and traditional UI, so you’re likely to find Windows 8.1 an easier transition.

If you’re looking to replace old Windows XP PCs (remember that support for Windows XP ends on April 8, 2014), or if you have business needs that lend themselves to a mobile solution, consider Windows 8.1. Let Colden Company help you decide if Windows 8.1 or any of the modern PC designs are a good fit for your business needs. If you’d like to know more, call us at (888) 600-4560, email us at info@coldencompany.com, see us on Facebook , or follow us on Twitter.






The Sunset of Windows XP and Office 2003

Posted on: March 28th, 2013 by jiml | No Comments

The sun is setting on our old friends Windows XP and Office 2003. Alas, life does go on and sunrise brings new opportunities with a new day. Microsoft will no longer provide extended support past April 8, 2014.  That means no new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options, or online technical content updates.

What are your plans to phase out Windows XP and Office 2003 in your business?  If you do not have a plan, you are late.   Based on historical customer deployment data, the average enterprise deployment can take 18 to 32 months from start to finish.

Continuing to use Windows XP and Office 2003 in your environment after their end of support date may expose your company to potential risks, such as:

  • Security & Compliance Risks: Unsupported and unpatched environments are vulnerable to security risks. This may result in an officially recognized control failure by an internal or external audit body, leading to suspension of certifications, and/or public notification of the organization’s inability to maintain its systems and customer information.
  • Lack of Independent Software Vendor (ISV) & Hardware Manufacturers support: An industry report from Gartner suggested “many independent software vendors (ISVs) are unlikely to support new versions of applications on Windows XP in 2011; in 2012, it will become common.” And it may stifle access to hardware innovation: Gartner further notes that as of 2012, most PC hardware manufacturers would stop supporting Windows XP on the majority of their new PC models. [1]

It is important for every business to plan for the day when Windows XP and Office 2003 will no longer be a secure or supported choices to run your business applications. Microsoft’s release of Windows 8 may be a tempting replacement, but before you run out and upgrade all of your PCs and laptops to Windows 8, there are considerations that must be carefully examined. For example, we strongly encourage the creation of a master list of software that is necessary to run the business.  These software packages should be classified as critical, important, or non-critical.  Next, each software package will need investigation to see what operating platforms they support and what their development life cycle will support in the coming months and years.  Knowing this information is critical to making a smart business decision. Based on the data provided from your software audit, a determination can be made as to which operating platform is best for your business (Windows 8, Windows 7, Mac, 32-bit versus 64-bit, etc).

Once the next generation platform has been decided upon, a timeline can be established for bringing your business infrastructure up to date. Do not wait until the last minute or you may find yourself riding off into the sunset with our old friends Windows XP and Office 2003.  Creating the timeline can help with cash flow and reduce long-term expenses by avoiding the problems that come from last minute replacements, not to mention the increased productivity that comes with newer operating systems and business software.

Call us at (888) 600-4560 or email us at info@coldencompany.com and let us help your business plan the migration from older Microsoft technologies to a more secure and long-term platform for your PC infrastructure. Sure, we will miss the familiarity of Windows XP and Office 2003, but let’s enjoy the sunset from the secure vantage point of an upgraded and supported infrastructure.

Don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

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[1] https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/endofsupport.aspx







A Look Below the Surface

Posted on: June 29th, 2012 by jiml | No Comments

As you have probably heard by now, Microsoft announced their new tablet technology, called Surface. By most accounts the hardware appears to be high quality.  The 10.6” screen has a very nice display, touch screen technology and the device has many available ports for connectivity.

Rather than debate the functionality of the iPad vs. the Surface, we will take a different approach to our discussion.  What should you know as a business about this new technology?

For starters, the Surface will eventually be running Microsoft’s new operating system, Windows 8.  This operating system is key to the success of Microsoft as it will be the operating system to run PCs and laptops as well as tablets.  The merging of the tablet and PC operating systems is the evolution that many have been waiting for.  This means that any programs that you can run on your PC can run on your tablet, unless your device requires Windows RT, a scaled down version for phone/tablet level hardware (ARM hardware).  The important thing to note is that Microsoft will begin releasing the Surface with Windows RT.  Many Windows applications will not run on this operating system. Microsoft plans to follow with a Surface tablet that runs the more business friendly Windows 8 Pro at a later date.

Another point of interest is that Microsoft will control the hardware on the surface much like Apple controls the hardware for the iPad.  From a business perspective, the good news is conformity usually leads to stability.  The bad news is that you are locked into whatever hardware choices Microsoft chooses to make.

The bright side is Windows RT will be available on a variety of tablet platforms such as the Samsung Galaxy and others.  The question remains whether software developers will embrace the Windows RT platform or not.   The full Windows 8 will be able to run on a variety of hardware choices in the desktop, laptop and net book space.  The choices for tablets capable of running the full version of Windows 8 will likely improve in the future.

Tablet devices have appeal for businesses in many areas, including sales, field users, and of course the executive toy.  The superior screen display along with the emergence of cloud technology which allows applications to be accessed with simply a browser make them functional choices as well.  Today tablets fall short running many on-premise line-of-business (LOB) applications and management of proprietary solutions like the iPad are a business challenge. A Windows 8 tablet running a full version of Windows will open many doors to these business challenges.  Just make sure you know what you are buying before you buy it and don’t get fooled into buying something that cannot meet the business objectives.

Call us today at (888) 600-4560 if you would like to hear more or email us at info@coldencompany.com or of course see us on Facebook or Twitter (@coldenco).





Keeping Windows XP is Costing You Money

Posted on: May 31st, 2012 by jiml | No Comments

It’s no secret to businesses using Microsoft’s venerable Windows XP that Microsoft will be terminating extended support for the operating system on April 8, 2014. Termination of extended support means that there will be no monthly patches for security problems, bugs, etc. In short, as of April 8, 2014, the Windows XP you’re running will be the Windows XP you’re running forever – unchanging and no longer protected.

An IDC study (commissioned by Microsoft) suggests that organizations can save money by moving from Windows XP to Windows 7. The study, “Mitigating Risk: Why Sticking with Windows XP is a Bad Idea,” is available for download on Microsoft’s website. The study discusses the benefits associated with a move from Windows XP to Windows 7 and presents a case for the many reasons why remaining with Windows XP is no longer a good business decision. The study takes into consideration both IT operational costs and selected end-user operational costs, such as time lost to malware, time taken to reimage/repair a PC, reboot waits, downtime, and time waiting for help desk support. The paper then aggregates the costs associated (ongoing support and maintenance, IT staff or professional services costs, etc.) and calculates the return-on-investment (ROI) associated with the deployment of Windows 7 to replace aging Windows XP PCs.

IDC estimates that the annual cost per PC per year for Windows XP is $870, while a comparable Windows 7 PC costs only $168 per PC per year. That is a potential savings of $701 per PC per year for IT and end-user labor costs. Most importantly, the study estimates that over a three-year period, organizations that move from Windows XP to Windows 7 will have a 137 percent ROI. It’s true that there will be capital expenditures (capex) and operational expenditures (opex) during the upgrade process, which IDC acknowledges as “Challenge: It takes money to save money” in the report (p. 11). However, IDC also acknowledges “Opportunity: Cost savings are forever” as well (p.11). The report optimistically states that “once an upgrade is completed, and the operational costs are lowered, those lower operational cost benefits continue to accrue into the future with no further direct capex investment.”

Windows XP is already two generations behind Microsoft’s current workstation operating system technology. With the release of Windows 8 later this year, Windows XP will be a decade old and three generations behind current technology. Many businesses are running the aging operating system on aging (or already well-aged) hardware that performs substantially below the level of current hardware or is prone to failure. It’s time to improve your business’ technology and user productivity through an investment in more modern technology. IDC sums up the report nicely by stating “Organizations that continue to retain a Windows XP environment not only are leaving themselves exposed to security risks and support challenges but also are wasting budget dollars that would be better used in modernizing their IT investments.”

Don’t waste another dime; upgrade your aging hardware to more-capable systems and your aging operating system to Windows 7 and protect your business. For assistance with this or any other IT-related problem, please contact us at (888) 600-4560, email us at info@coldencompany.com or see us on Facebook or Twitter.







Two-Year Countdown to End of Support for Windows XP and Office 2003

Posted on: April 13th, 2012 by billp | No Comments

Microsoft divides its support lifecycle into two phases: “Mainstream” and “Extended.” In the Mainstream phase, software receives free security updates, bug fixes, new or improved features, etc. In the Extended phase, only security updates are provided.

Windows XP and Office 2003 are currently in Extended support until April 8, 2014. After that date, they’ll cease receiving even security updates, leaving anyone still using that software vulnerable to viruses, malware, etc. that are designed to target remaining weaknesses.

Windows Vista and Office 2007 will be in Extended support from now until April 2017.

Upgrade Today: Two-Year Countdown to End of Support for Windows XP and Office 2003 (Windows for your Business Blog)

If you’re still running Windows XP or Office 2003, now is the time to start planning your upgrades. Windows 7 and Office 2010 are mature and reliable products that are ready to support your business needs. Or are you ready to take your business into the cloud with Office 365? Do you want to plan a migration to any of these products? If so, contact us for help at (888) 600-4560, info@coldencompany.com, on Facebook, or on Twitter @coldenco.

Email: Into the Cloud!

Posted on: February 29th, 2012 by jiml | No Comments

There has been a lot of discussion about cloud computing in recent years and major companies like Google and Microsoft are investing millions of dollars into competing for that space. At Colden Company Inc., we are often asked about the cloud and whether or not our clients should consider the move into a cloud environment. The answer to the question “is the cloud good for my business?” is, of course, “it depends”. It is important to review what line-of-business (LOB) applications that your business relies on and whether or not cloud options are available and an improvement over traditional on-premise applications. Obvious benefits to cloud solutions include improved business continuity, less upfront hardware expense, and fewer ongoing maintenance expenses, while downsides include reliance on a stable Internet connection for access to data and perhaps decreased performance of certain applications.

In general terms, we prefer our data files stored locally, but backed up to the cloud. This insures fastest access and the safety of having a backup in the cloud, protecting against a site-level disaster. We prefer our email in the cloud for reasons will we discuss shortly and we prefer to examine our LOB applications on a case-by-case basis. Let’s focus on email since we feel it is a great cloud application.

Cloud applications rely on Internet connectivity so having a solid connection is vital. In today’s mobile computing world, email comes not only to PCs and laptops but also to smart phones and tablets. These devices often use 3G or 4G connections which are really separate Internet connections than the office network, providing a layer of redundancy in case the office Internet goes down. Secondly, email is not an application that requires a 100% persistent connection and is not as large a bandwidth user as many LOB applications. These two points make email a natural fit for the cloud.

Many people think that cloud email will only offer a reduced feature set as was evidenced by Microsoft’s Outlook Web Access for many years. This is no longer the case. Microsoft Hosted Exchange, Office365, and Google Apps for Business offer fully functional and web-based feature sets compared to on-premise solutions. With both the Microsoft and Google offerings, you can even continue to seamlessly use your local Outlook client while realizing the benefits of the cloud. Reduced functionality is no longer a reason to stay out of the cloud.

Email is just so critical to business today that having the guaranteed up-time that many cloud services provide is a great way to ensure the reliability of this critical business tool. Google and Microsoft both commit to a Service Level Agreement (SLA) of greater than 99.9% for their business cloud offerings. Cloud email is secure and reliable, making it a great fit for such an important business tool.

Finally, no evaluation would be complete without considering costs. Studies have shown that cloud email has less up front cost and in many cases, lower long term costs for the business as a result of less maintenance and fewer lost hours in productivity. With a cloud-based solution for your email, expenses are stable and predictable – both very attractive traits to business owners.

Are you interested in hearing more about how your business can migrate its email to the cloud? Contact Colden Company Inc. at (888) 600-4560, info@coldencompany.com, see us on Facebook or Twitter @coldenco.