Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft’

Microsoft Windows 8 and the Tablet Market

Posted on: November 28th, 2011 by jiml | No Comments

 When traveling, it is not unusual for me to see more people with tablet devices in the airport than carrying a laptop.  Tablets like the iPad are lighter, boot up much more quickly and give users access to the essentials like email, presentations and web browsing.  Tablets offer these features more cheaply than a laptop if all you need is the subset of functionality.

Microsoft has been concentrating a large portion of their development dollars on the cloud in recent years and has fallen behind in the tablet market by all objective measurements.  Microsoft is currently developing the successor to Windows 7, currently known by the name Windows 8, which is intended to help them close the gap.  Windows 8 will be the first operating system designed to work on both traditional laptop/PC hardware but also on tablet devices. The following link provided by Microsoft will explain some of the features that Windows 8 will include:

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/preview

As a business, the question you may be asking is how Windows 8 will affect your business. The good news is we have time to determine that.  Windows 8 is not yet available and is currently planned for release sometime in late 2012.  Where we see Windows 8 being valuable is in the marriage of the laptop/PC and tablet operating systems.  Smart phones are essentially small tablets and the pervasive nature of personal smart phones makes them a challenge for businesses to manage.  Smart phones can be configured to access corporate email, line of business applications and cloud applications meaning they need to be secured in the same manner as other network devices. This is currently problematic for many businesses since many employees are using their own phones for business purposes.  The hope in marrying the technologies is that perhaps standardization can bring security and supportability to compliment the many benefits that the tablet and mobile markets are bringing to business.

Colden Company has installed and is testing the preview release of Windows 8 to gain familiarity with the new operating system. 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@coldenco.





Microsoft announces Office 365

Posted on: November 30th, 2010 by jiml | No Comments

Microsoft announces Office 365, a new service that brings familiar applications, including Office desktop software and Office Web Apps, together with SharePoint, Exchange and Lync in the cloud, for the first time.

In October 2010, Microsoft unveiled a new product offering called Office 365. While the Office 365 brand is new, the actual products behind it are not – Microsoft Office (the most popular productivity software in the world), Microsoft Exchange (email, calendar, contacts, collaboration, etc.), Microsoft SharePoint (web-based collaboration), and Microsoft Lync (instant messaging, conferencing, telephony, etc.). The most important distinction is that Office 365 is a cloud-based solution and offers options that are a good fit for businesses of all sizes. In Microsoft’s words, “Office 365 is more than a new brand. It’s a progressive approach to cloud applications,” said Kurt DelBene, president of the Microsoft Office Division. “We designed Office 365 to work for a business of one – or a business of one million and one.”

Office 365 is not the first time Microsoft has provided cloud-based productivity solutions. BPOS, Business Productivity Online Suite, which included Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Office Live Meeting, and Office Communications Online is Microsoft’s current cloud business productivity suite.  Office 365 will be Microsoft’s marquee cloud solution, updating the technologies in BPOS, Office Live Small Business, Live@edu (hosted email, calendar, and contacts for educational institutions), and Office Web Apps. The key difference in Office 365 is that Microsoft is consolidating these formerly disconnected services under a single brand and a single scaling pricing and licensing structure. From a customer’s standpoint, Microsoft is simplifying their menu of options while increasing the flexibility that customers have in choosing the package that is right for them.

Microsoft has been working to move their business productivity solutions into the cloud for years, all while dealing with rapid advancements in the cloud space by competitors such as Google (Google Apps) and IBM (LotusLive). Cloud solutions offer huge benefits to Microsoft and its competitors. Cloud solutions reduce the cost of producing software products because there is no physical product to manufacture, ship, sell, etc.. Cloud solutions improve the ability of a software developer to make incremental changes and improvements (particularly security patches) to their software without maintaining a costly infrastructure to deliver updates to locally-installed software products. And, of course, cloud solutions offer a source of recurring revenue to software companies because they now charge for software on a subscription basis.

The benefits of cloud solutions are not only for the manufacture; customer can reap huge rewards as well. With Office 365, Microsoft can provide their technology to customers on a more frequent basis, while customers save money at the same time – typically anywhere from 10-50% when considering licensing, administrative costs, etc. Today, the average mid-sized company only upgrades Office every six to seven years.  With Office 365, they can always be on the cusp of the next wave in productivity-boosting technology.

Consider a small sample of the benefits of cloud solutions.

  • Less in-house IT infrastructure reduces cost, complexity, and risk.
  • Reduced burden of tracking software licenses; you only pay for what you need, and all licenses are tracked based on your online purchase.
  • Lowered administrative burden of locally-installed software; you no longer need to worry about when or if you should upgrade Office to the next major version, how much the upgrade will cost, how much of an impact and downtime the upgrade will impose on your staff, whether or not you have all the latest security patches applied, etc.
  • Your data is protected, private, and secure at all times. Consider this: is your data more protected and secure on a server in the office with tape or disk backups, or in one of Microsoft’s geo-redundant industry-leading data centers at multiple locations across the globe?

Microsoft understands that customers want choices.  With Office 365, Microsoft offers a range of options from basic email for $2 per user per month to a complete enterprise solution for $27 per user per month that includes full Office Professional Plus desktop software, along with Office Web Apps; the most advanced versions of Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Lync Online; 24×7 phone support; advanced IT administrative controls; and on-premises use rights for voice. Microsoft is not limiting customers’ choice by restricting higher-end options to a minimum license purchase; even sole proprietors can opt for the enterprise-level Office 365 and enjoy all its benefits.

Office 365 is currently in very limited beta. Microsoft Partners, such as Colden Company, are learning about the service and rapidly getting up to speed on behalf of their customers. When available, Colden Company can assist your business in migrating to Office 365 and administering it on an ongoing basis, allowing you to focus on your business and less on your technology. For more information, visit the Office 365 website or read the Office 365 press release.

If you’re interested in Office 365 or any other Microsoft technologies mentioned in this newsletter, Colden Company can help. Please contact us at 518-885-2857, toll-free at 888-600-4560, email to info@coldencompany.com, or on Twitter for assistance with Microsoft or any of your business computing needs.


Microsoft Announces Lync 2010

Posted on: November 18th, 2010 by jiml | No Comments

Microsoft announced the arrival of its newest office product, called Lync 2010.  Lync is considered a convergence of communication methods providing a combination Instant Messenger (IM) client, soft phone and video collaboration tool.  The tool is designed to serve as a potential replacement for the traditional PBX phone system.  In one consolidated interface, users will be able to place calls, video conference or IM.

Those businesses that are already embedded with Microsoft technology may be interested in this product.  It has strong interconnections to Exchange, SharePoint and other Microsoft products.  For example, if a user’s calendar shows you have a meeting at 1 o’clock, the IM interface will automatically update your status based on your calendar.  Other integration points allow you to pick from your contacts and contact them via any one of the available methods.

Microsoft has also tacked the issue of E911 by detecting your location, solving one of the primary objections to soft phone technologies. Lync 2010 will be released officially in January. If you are interested in hearing more about this technology, please feel free to contact us at Colden Company at (518) 885-2857 or toll free at (888) 600-4560.

Microsoft Announces Security Essentials is Available for FREE for Small Businesses

Posted on: September 29th, 2010 by jiml | No Comments

Beginning in October 2010, Microsoft’s anti-virus protection suite, Security Essentials, will become available to small businesses on ten (10) or fewer PCs at no charge. The following link will direct you to the Microsoft press release:

http://www.microsoft.com/Presspass/Features/2010/sep10/09-22SecurityEssentials.mspx

Colden Company Inc. has tested this product and has been pleased not only with the protection that it provides but also with its minimal impact on system performance. While we have not always been fans of past Microsoft offerings in this space, we are not hesitant to recommend this particular offering. In addition, one of the top independent virus/malware protection software rating organizations, Virus Bulletin, awarders of the VB100 award, tested Security Essentials and gave it a positive review, further lending credibility to the product.

Some of you may ask what the difference is between Security Essentials and other free anti-virus programs such as AVG.   The free version of AVG is designed for personal use and not to be used in a commercial environment.   The following link brings you to the EULA (End User License Agreement) for AVG:

http://free.avg.com/us-en/avg-anti-virus-8-licence-agreement-eula

Most free software packages have similar restrictions.  Microsoft Security Essentials is a rare product that does indeed allow for commercial use of its free product (up to 10 PCs). Our opinion is that it is a great product for small businesses to protect against the ever increasing number of threats from viruses and malware.

If you have any questions on this product or other security solutions for your business, please contact us at (518) 885-2857, info@coldencompany.com, or on Twitter @coldenco.

Dell Stopping Sales of Windows XP

Posted on: September 10th, 2010 by billp | No Comments

Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system was released for retail sale on October 25, 2001. It has had its ups and downs, but overall it is one of the biggest client operating system success stories in Microsoft’s long-lived Windows franchise. However, change is inevitable and it is time for us to move on.

Effective October 22, 2010, Windows XP will reach its end-of-sales milestone. This means that Microsoft will not allow Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to sell computers pre-installed with Windows XP after that date. All new computers will ship with an edition of Windows 7. Please don’t confuse this with end-of-support, which will not arrive for Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) until April 2014.

In preparation for this deadline, Dell will no longer ship computers pre-installed with Windows XP after October 1, 2010. Dell will begin removing Windows XP as an option in September. While this particular announcement is from Dell, all OEMs will certainly follow down a similar path.

The bottom line is clear. If your business isn’t ready to integrate or upgrade to Windows 7, and you have computers that are in need of a refresh, now is the time to buy.

Windows 7 has proven to be an outstanding operating system and a solid successor to Windows XP for businesses of all sizes. If your business relies of software that is not compatible with Windows 7, Microsoft provides Windows XP Mode in Windows 7 Professional or higher. This feature provides a compatibility layer for software that isn’t ready to run on Windows 7 natively.

If you want to purchase new computers before the end-of-sales milestone, or you want to explore Windows 7 migration, or you want to learn more about Windows XP Mode under Windows 7, please contact Colden Company for help. We can be reached at 518-885-2857, info@coldencompany.com, or on Twitter @coldenco.

September 2010: Windows Small Business Server: The Next Generation

Posted on: August 31st, 2010 by billp | No Comments

Many small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have taken advantage of the simplicity of Microsoft’s Windows Small Business Server (SBS). SBS is an integrated server suite designed for running the network infrastructure of businesses having no more than 75 workstations or users. SBS incorporates some of Microsoft’s premier enterprise technologies such as Exchange Server for e-mail and calendaring, SharePoint for collaboration, Internet Information Service (IIS) for web server services, and SQL Server for database applications into a simplified server suite with easy management via a unified management console and enhanced monitoring.

Contrary to the rumor mill claims that SBS 2008 would be the last version in the product’s line, Microsoft will be releasing a new version of SBS in late 2010 or early 2011. In fact, there will be two versions – one that is the next generation of the traditional product, and a second that embraces Microsoft’s cloud computing initiatives.

SBS 7 is the unofficial name for the product that represents the evolution of the traditional on-premise SBS product line. The core will be a modified Windows Server 2008 R2 (64-bit only), Exchange Server 2010, and SharePoint Foundation 2010. SQL Server will be a premium add-on.

SBS “Aurora” is the far more interesting and exciting product. First, it is limited to 25 users because it is targeting the much-smaller businesses. It is a hybrid server in that it combines on-premise features with cloud-based features. Microsoft’s term for this is “cross-premise.” Your users and computers will still be created and managed in an on-premise directory (Active Directory, or AD), but that directory will be federated with cloud services such as Exchange Online. This gives you the best of both worlds – the control of an on-premise server with the flexibility, scalability, security, and anywhere-access of cloud-based services.

Even more interesting is that Microsoft is integrating key Windows Home Server (WHS) features into Aurora. Windows Home Server was designed to be a solution for homes with multiple connected PCs to offer file sharing, automated backups, and remote access. It is a very successful product and has even been used by some small businesses instead of SBS or similar server products due to its simplicity and low cost.

The WHS backup feature is a key feature that is being incorporated into Aurora. Aurora backup provides full, image-based backups of your managed PCs as well as file-based backups, making it excellent for both file restores and disaster recovery. You can optionally enable server-based Shadow Copies so that multiple versions of documents on users’ PCs are saved on the server in a central location.

One of the best WHS features, Drive Extender, is perhaps the most impressive addition to the Aurora. Drive Extender treats all of the available storage attached to the server as a single pool of storage instead of partitioning it into discrete drive letters. In other words, your internal hard disks and external USB hard disks all appear as a single pool of storage. If you run low on storage, simply add another internal or external hard disk and Drive Extender automatically adds it to the seamless pool of storage. Data duplication functionality at the share level is also provided. When this feature is enabled, all stored files are guaranteed to sit on two separate physical hard drives to help prevent data loss in the event of a hardware failure.

You can read more on Microsoft’s site at Introducing the next version of Windows Small Business Server! If you’re interested in Small Business Server, Windows Home Server, or any other Microsoft technologies mentioned in this newsletter, Colden Company can help. Please contact us at 518-885-2857, info@coldencompany.com, or Twitter for assistance with Microsoft or any of your business computing needs.