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PowerPoint 2016: 5 Little Changes That Make a Big Difference

Microsoft has been on a major role following its announcement of introducing the Office 2016 release. The bundle of applications promises greater collaboration and communication as well as more sophisticated use of security features. Microsoft has also made a number of changes to its PowerPoint software. Users would often have had spent considerable time testing multiple slide elements to produce the effect they desired. However, significant improvements are set in store for users in the 2016 edition and Microsoft has gone to great lengths in offering customers exceptional user satisfaction.
In this blog, we share 5 changes that Microsoft has added to the 2016 PowerPoint software, which are noteworthy.

New ‘Designer’ feature that lets users create slides

Designer’ feature

Microsoft PowerPoint users suffered from being unable to put together a quality selection of slides for their presentations. Luckily, Microsoft has listened to the anguish of its customers and has responded with a remarkable new feature known as ‘Designer’. This helps users choose the best slide layout and designs based on the type of pictures they insert into PowerPoint.
This gives the advantage of saving you hours of browsing through multiple colors and designs of slides to create your perfect presentation. With Designer, all you do is press a few clicks, and you will be satisfied with your slides in a matter of minutes.
Chris Maloney, PowerPoint’s senior program manager, spoke about how the new Designer feature is dedicated to saving substantial time in creating presentations. He mentioned, “We can give you this option that would have taken like 30 clicks, and we give you five of them. So right there, that’s like 150 clicks, and all you have to do is try them on, see what you like, and then just be on your way.”

Quotation Mark

 

We can give you this option that would have taken like 30 clicks, and we give you five of them. So right there, that’s like 150 clicks, and all you have to do is try them on, see what you like, and then just be on your way

— Chris Maloney, PowerPoint’s Senior Program Manager

Morph transition for automatic and smooth transitions between slides

Morph transition

Adding a number of different animations to allow your slides transition from one to the next seamlessly can drive anyone to go insane. But with Morph transition, a new feature from Microsoft, the process of making smooth transitions and animations has just got incredibly easier. With Morph, you can benefit from seamless and subtle transitions without having to work with frustrated eyes till past bedtime. All you need to do is to use two slides with at least one object in common. Then go to Transitions and then select Morph to view automatic animations and movements.
However, this feature is only available to those who have subscribed to Office 365.

‘Tell me what you want to do’ for quicker actions

One of the many defining things you will notice when using 2016 PowerPoint is the ‘Tell me what you want to do’ ribbon on the top menu. Hover over it and you will see there is a text bar, in which you can type any words or phrases pertaining to an action or information. With the ‘Tell me’ feature, you can quickly access tools in far less time instead of having to manually take the long course of going to different tabs.

Tell me what you want to do

New chart types for fluid data visualizations

We have all grown used to using bar graphs and pie charts on Microsoft Excel and Word. But little did we expect Microsoft to add six new chart types for data representation purposes in PowerPoint. Yes! Clear and concise data visualizations are the key for effective business presentations, and with the addition of six new graphs, you can easily impress your employers through your presentations.
To make use of these charts, go to Insert and then click on Chart. You will then see a variety of data visualizations including Box and Whisker, Histogram, Sunburst, Treemap, Waterfall, and Pareto charts.

New chart types

Ink Equations for incorporating formulas and equations

Ink Equations

Business presentations are not usually complete without their fair share of number-crunching and data. This is why Microsoft brings you the feature to add complicated math equations to help your audience follow through your financial results with far more clarity.

End Note

The 2016 edition of Microsoft PowerPoint brings users with a plethora of new features and tools for an overall higher user satisfaction. Each of these features is focused on curbing the difficulty and the length of time taken to make slides and choose animations.

Windows 10 – A 5-minutes’ Overview That Saves You Hours of Testing and Guesswork

The new Windows 10, available as a free upgrade for existing Windows 7 and Windows 8 noncorporate users, is built from the ground up to realize Microsoft’s vision of “a platform for all”: a Windows OS that runs on all devices and works for universal apps. It is highly anticipated as well as controverted by users. And until so far, from what we learned at ComputerSupport.com, Windows 10 is really worth a try giving the following reasons:

Better Testing and Deployment

If you’re a small business that makes software, you know of the difficulties involved with testing. Businesses are forced to test new versions of software on each operating system. This includes server operating systems for SaaS platforms. Microsoft promises that Windows 10 will have better support across all Microsoft Windows platforms.

Of course, you still need to update your operating system, including Windows 10, with the latest security updates and patches. ComputerSupport or another MSP can help you secure your systems.

Making Businesses More Mobile

There’s no doubt that mobility is the future. Working on mobile devices is more popular now than using desktops. Microsoft has been behind in the mobile market with Windows Phone not as popular as Android and iPhone.

Windows 10 includes Continuum, which seeks to blur the line between desktop and mobile devices. It’s especially useful for laptops and corresponding hybrids. When you remove a keyboard and mouse from a desktop, Windows 10 will ask you if you want to switch to tablet mode.  Conversely, if you insert a keyboard and mouse, Windows will ask you if you want to return to desktop mode. This is extremely useful for mobile employees who travel with Windows tablets.

Cortana: Siri’s Virtual Assistant Competitor

Apple’s Siri is a popular virtual assistant. Siri is the voice that speaks when you need help on your iPhone. Microsoft has its’ own virtual assistant – Cortana. The original test versions of Windows 10 had several bugs related to its virtual assistant. However, Microsoft has promised to address them. Cortana performs various tasks, such as schedule meetings, set alarms, take notes and call people on Skype. She can also interact with your OneDrive account.

The Start Menu is Back

Anyone who installed Windows 8 probably had the same reaction – where is the Start button? Microsoft made a critical design flaw when it redesigned its Windows 8 user interface. The uproar resulted in an upgrade that brought back the Start menu and its button. Microsoft heard the feedback, and it has promised to keep the Start menu and the Start button on the new Windows 10 interface.

Get Ready for the New Internet Explorer

Microsoft is also releasing a brand new web browser, Microsoft Edge (finally!!). Microsoft Edge, originally called “Spartan,” is said to be faster with fewer bulky features that slowed down older versions of Internet Explorer.

Best of all, it’s Free!

If you are currently running Windows 7 or 8 consumer or professional editions, you are in luck – your upgrade is completely free! If you are on the Enterprise edition, you will need to work with your Microsoft VAR to upgrade using Software Assurance.

If you are a current ComputerSupport.com customer, please submit a helpdesk request today to get started with your upgrade!

Microsoft Ends Support for Windows Server 2003

— What business owners need to expect and prepare for next

Microsoft has recently announced that it will no longer provide security updates for its Windows Server 2003 operating system. These security updates are essential in ensuring that the operating system is in compliance with recent improvements, and on top of bugs and error fixes and other support.

Businesses that continue to run Windows Server 2003 on their systems will, as a result, be exposing their software applications or their entire data infrastructure, to a host of problems if a migration strategy is not implemented.

This post will shed light on how the development in question can affect your data center and how you can initiate a migration strategy to protect your data from getting easily corrupted or destroyed.

What are the risks?

Without continually upgrading your operating system to new editions or versions, your business faces immense security risks and is exposed to third party cyber criminals and viruses. The aim of the security update is to overhaul the operating system to effectively protect against new types of malicious programs such as trojans and other malware. It is also meant to update the operating system to implement new bugs fixes and other additional software enhancement functions such as better speed.

Businesses that run the Microsoft Windows Server 2003 operating system will thus no longer be able to upgrade their system to keep their data center secure. The risks associated with this are immense; businesses, especially in the banking or healthcare sector, can face a higher likelihood of having their confidential data records compromised. This is critical as operating system updates can allow the businesses to cover many industry related regulations and compliance standards.

Moreover, the costs associated with maintaining your operating system will also increase. Lack of system updates means that your business will have to invest a lot more in measures such as expensive firewall and intrusion detection systems, to ensure that the servers are protected against the latest threats and viruses.

Hackers continue to develop new and unfamiliar software applications and tools to corrupt and steal valuable data. Failure to keep your confidential data secure will defeat the purpose of protecting data.

What is a migration strategy?

Migration refers to the process whereby an institution moves from the use of one operating system to a new one which is regarded as more effective and efficient than the former one. An example of a migration would be where an organization moves from using a Windows 2000 server to a Windows 2003 server. In such a transition, the new features are made use of, old settings are preserved, and continued operation of current applications is ensured in the new operating system’s environment.

One operating system that business can migrate to is the Windows Server 2012 R2 system. This brings the latest enhancements and high performance features, along with cloud-based solutions, which can take your data infrastructure to new heights. It boasts a four times higher memory storage, five times greater logical processor support, and more.

How can businesses get started with migration?

Businesses that are keen on benefiting from migration can start immediately with Microsoft’s own “Migration Planning Assistant”. The tool offers easy-to-use assistance on how businesses can begin their migration by informing of the various stages and processes involved in ensuring that all data works efficiently and smoothly.

Here’s how the migration process goes:

  • Discover
  • Assess
  • Target
  • Migrate

Each process includes information and toolkits that allow business to know exactly what the process requires from them and how to transition to the new operating system.

 

Microsoft Windows 10 Improves Mobility and Browsing Options

Microsoft_800x400

The launch of the recent version of Microsoft Windows 10 has caught the attention of mobile users who work with on-the-go tablets.

What’s interesting to note is the overall feel of Win 10 is more about seamless integration of think-free applications rather than requiring users to manage their work flow.

For example, Microsoft’s voice-activated Cortana allows you to prompt new commands rather than rely on point-and-click action.

Want to send an email? Just tell your device and a new email window appears. Smart computing has been moving toward voice-command interaction for years. With Win 10, you now have the ability to process your work with voice activation adding to an exceptional hands-free experience.

Win 10 Tablet Mode

Another popular feature is switching from desktop to tablet mode display. It’s no longer about having to work with what you see but instead, transform your screen to whichever type of device you prefer. If your employees work remotely, your may want know how remote technical support works and how to achieve a better and faster business solution for remote workforce.

The Death of IE?

Perhaps you’ve read about the debate whether or not Internet Explorer’s days as the Microsoft flagship Internet browser are numbered. It’s true Microsoft has publicly stated they will no longer be supporting IE and focus on the development of their new Spartan web browser.

Although IE will still be the preferred pre-Win 10 browser, plans to abandon IE by Microsoft are evident according to Computer World. With continuous security patch updates rolling out to protect IE users, some analysts believe Spartan will eventually replace IE.

IE vs. Spartan

Over the course of the last decade, IE has suffered enormous market share fallout due to the growth of both Google Chrome and Firefox.

For example, in 2014 Google Chrome captured more than 55% of global browser users. Firefox carved out nearly 25% of the market causing Microsoft to consider IE’s low 10% usage as the inevitable writing on the wall it may be time to rethink the browser wars.

Win 10 & Free Office Apps

Apps are now the bedrock of working on the go. Microsoft’s Win 10 now offers mobile users the freedom to work wherever they find themselves with popular applications such as Word, PowerPoint and Excel. Devices sold with Win 10 will come pre-loaded with Mobile Office apps.

Due to the growth of mobile work flow, it’s obvious Win 10 is designed to help users get more done no matter where they work. Although Google apps have become a logical choice for millions of business owners, it’s refreshing to see Microsoft allow people the freedom to tether themselves to Office products used on the traditional desktop.

If your company is ready to migrate your network to the Cloud, learn how we can help.

Will Windows 10 change the way you work? With so many of its features focused on enhancing mobile user work flow, it’s easy to see the benefits Win 10 will have to increase productivity.

Windows XP End of Life – Are You Prepared?

With the EOL of Windows XP fast approaching, companies all across the globe are still scrambling to plan and budget the migration to a new operating system. Sure it sounds easy, just upgrade to Windows 7 or 8, right?……………. wrong. It’s not that easy for many. Companies will face many challenges with the expiration of XP, and it can potentially come at a very high cost, risk the security, confidence and reputation of the organization if not planned and executed properly. Organizations of all shapes and sizes will potentially be required by industry standardization, internal policy and regulatory commissions to re-write security policies, as well as undergo various types of auditing when migrating to a new operating system depending on the industry and company. Potential hardware and software upgrades will be eminent as well. Many companies rely heavily on Windows based operating systems, for their ease of use, compatibility, reliability, etc. What many companies don’t realize is that they have had a very long free ride since the release of Windows XP with its 13+ year life cycle, and have become very accustom to the XP lifestyle with few headaches and needs to upgrade technology. Microsoft states that the life cycles of its operating systems will continue to decrease, as the company focuses towards more rapid, and competitive improvements, as well as its growing adaption to the Cloud. Microsoft has already moved its full suite of office products to the cloud with the release of Office 365, and other software as well. Vista, Windows 7, and Widows 8 have all been released within half of the life cycle of Windows XP, and are already scheduled to have much shorter life cycles.

The fact of the matter is, today, companies have choices, unlike 5-10+ years ago. Now is the time to start reviewing various opinions from both in-house and outside resources if you have not already to evaluate and plan the best needs for the organization.

The full lifecycle report of all existing Microsoft Operating Systems is here: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/products/lifecycle

Windows 8.1 Enterprise Preview Has Been Released

Microsoft just recently announced the release of Windows 8.1 Enterprise Preview. It builds on the release of the Windows 8.1 Preview which was released in June this year. It comes with additional security, management, mobility and more virtualization features that are well suited for business. The preview can be downloaded from TechNet. During the announcement, the company also confirmed the rumors that the life cycle support policy for Windows 8.1 would be the same as that for Windows 8. The support would end on 10th January 2023.

Customers would be given two years to move to Windows 8.1 from Windows 8 after the update has been released. This time-frame is seen as ample enough to allow all their customers to move to Windows 8.1. After the end of that period, the company will no longer provide support for Windows 8, but will only provide support for Windows 8.1 and above.

The preview featured many new features that will definitely generate a lot of buzz. The additional enterprise features that have been included in the list include;

– Start Screen Control. IT departments will now be in a position to control how the layout of the Start Screen on company issued devices will appear. They can control the layout to ensure that key apps are easily accessible by users. The control also makes it possible for IT departments to prevent users from customizing their Start Screen. This will help ensure consistency and uniformity in the work place.
– Windows To Go Creator enables IT departments to create a fully manageable Windows 8.1 desktop that can be on a bootable external USB drive. The drive can easily be used to support bringing your own devices to work, and at the same time, can be given to corporate staff without necessarily compromising security.

– Direct Access enables users to connect via a corporate network without having to launch a separate VPN like it was before. IT administrators can also keep the remote users’ PCs up to date by applying all the latest software updates and policies.

– BranchCache. Employees who work in branch offices will no longer have to download content multiple times from the Wide Area Network. This is because Branchcache caches websites, and files them along with any other content from the central servers locally on the hosted cache servers or the PCs.

– Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). Users will enjoy a rich desktop experience and will have the ability to play 3D games. It will also be possible to use USB peripherals and to use some touch enabled devices across all types of network whether LAN or WAN for the VDI scenarios. This has been made possible mainly because of enhancements in Windows Server 2012 and Microsoft RemoteFX.

– Applocker: With this feature, IT department can control the apps and types of files that users run on their devices. This will make their devices more secure while also increasing the security of the data the device holds.

– Windows Enterprise Side Loading: It is now possible to side-load Internal Windows apps on domain joined PCs with tablets that are running the Windows 8.1 Enterprise.

The release date of the full version has not yet been announced by Microsoft but it will not be later than August.

What is Windows Blue?

Hint: It’s not a paint color.  There are a lot of rumors swirling about what Windows Blue is.  Thus far, we can conclude that it’s not a service pack.  Windows Blue will be closer to what Mountain Lion is to Apple’s OS X.  We know this because since XP service pack 2, Microsoft has decided that any update that introduces new features is not a service pack.  As of right now, no one really knows what it is.

What can you expect?

There’s not much that’s official yet.  However, we can speculate on a few things.  One is that it’ll allow Windows to run on tablets that are smaller than 10.1 inches diagonally, Windows 8’s current limitation.  There should new built-in apps.  One that was shown off was a new video editing app called Movie Moments.   Expect new charms, such as one that will let you seamlessly switch between audio and video.

What not to expect.

It probably won’t replace Windows Phone 8 since Microsoft has decided to take the opposite path as Apple.  Apple currently uses the same operating system for its tablets and phones.  It probably won’t replace Windows RT.  RT runs on low power processors in order to increase battery life.  Blue would ruin that aspect.

The rumor mill is saying that Windows Blue will come out sometime this year.  We’ll be keeping an eye out.

Office 365 Has A Plan For Everyday of the Week

We’ve covered Office 365 in the past.  It’s software as a service plan devised by Microsoft.  Many consider it a boon to the software industry, giving consumers the ability to pick and choose more of what they want.

Microsoft divides its services into two categories: small business and enterprise.  Each comes with their distinct plans.

Small Business

The premium version cost $15 user/month or an optional $150 user/year.   The main difference between this level of service and those beneath it are mobile apps and desktop versions of Office apps.

Word, PowerPoint and Excel are all available as mobile versions on phones and tablets that support Windows 8 RT.  Having mobile versions of Office will allow you to work and share on the go.

The other major advantage is having the desktop versions of Office rather than the stripped down version.  This way, your employees will not have to learn a new system.

If you want to go with the cheapest plan, $4 user/month, it will give you the basics.  You’ll get Office for up to five machines.  The major things you’ll lack will be web conferencing, website domain hosting, and the mobile apps.  However, you will get the guaranteed 99.9% uptime that will pay you for any loss of service.

Enterprise

The major service that the Enterprise version of Office 365 provides is intranet through SharePoint.  These are like websites, but accessible only by machines on your network.  Intranet sites can include a billboard for office memos or even product information for your sales associates.

The most expensive version of Enterprise, costing $20 user/month, has luxuries such as an auto responder for your voice land.  You know, press one to leave a message.

For more information about Office 365 click here.

 

 

Pick a Windows, Any Windows

Pick a Windows, any windows.  Microsoft has really put a plethora of choices out there.  For Windows 8, the three big ones are Vanilla, Pro and Enterprise.  If you’re on Windows 7 or XP (If you’re on Vista you really should) and considering making the switch, which one should you chose?

It all comes down to what you want.

Vanilla

In terms of software, Vanilla usually refers to the unaltered version.  It’s the one with no bells and whistles, you know, vanilla flavored.  On the whole, Windows 8 has a lot flash to it with its charms and apps and such.  However, has received upgrades on the back-end.

It has more security, optimized for faster booting times, and amalgamated storage spaces.

That being said, if you’re on Windows 7, a move to Vanilla Window’s 8 probably would be a lateral move.  You paid for Windows 7 when you bought your computer, no need to pay for it again.

Pro

Pro sounds impressive.  It sounds…professional and it has the features to back up its name.  If you’re on a Windows Server, Pro allows you to centrally manage your network.

For the laptops and tablets you take on the go, Pro has BitLocker.  This feature can encrypt your hard drive.  BitLocker is quick, as it only encrypts drive space that is currently in use rather than securing everything in sight.

Also, for those looking to give out IT support, Windows 8 Pro has remote access features.  Although any computer hosting Windows 8 can be accessed remotely, only those touting Pro can be in the driver’s seat.  When it comes to technical support, giving is defiantly better than receiving.

Enterprise

Engage.  Wait, wrong blog.

Enterprise, is, and always has been the heavy-weight of the Windows family.  Enterprise is really aimed at medium-large business.  Features like Windows to Go, which allows Windows 8 to be booted from a USB drive, is only useful with a Bring Your Own Device Office with security concerns.

There’s DirectAccess which allows outside machines to behave as if they are on an internal network.  Not really useful unless you have an internal network and have employees that wish to work from home.

To help boost efficiency, Windows 8 Enterprise also has BranchCache which helps streamline bandwidth usage.  Websites and apps that constantly accessed via the Internet can be cached for peer-to-peer usage.  For example. one guy can download the list that everyone needs to use, and using BranchCache all his co-workers can look it up without having to tap into the all important  bandwidth.

Chose Wisely

There’s not much more to say than get what you want.  It should also be noted that there is Windows RT, but you can’t buy it.  It only comes pre-installed on Microsoft Surfaces.

Office 365 vs Google Docs

They say you get what you pay for, but nothing is better than free.  That’s why for years people have been touting Google Docs as a way to go to get something for virtually nothing.  However, in December Google changed the pricing structure for its new business users.  Now there is a two tier pricing structure with $50 per user per year for basic services and $150 per user per year for advance security features.

The old adage holds true, you do get what you pay for.  The question now is do you get more if you pay for Microsoft’s new service: Office 365 which costs $6 per month for the first 50 users?

For Storage

You get more with Office 365.  Powered by Skydrive, the system offers an initial 25 gigabytes and $50 for each 100 more.  Google only dishes out 5 gigabytes at a price $60 for the next 100.

Collaboration

Google has the edge here.  The platform they use is more conducive to easily sharing, usually involving just a click and search through your contacts.  As of right now, Office 365 has trouble sharing with its desktop brethren.

Apps

It all comes down to apps doesn’t it?  Google Docs has a bit of an edge in document files.  They export and preview much easier than its Microsoft counterpoint.  However, Office 365 has a cleaner spreadsheet.  So, it’s a bit of a wash whose better in this arena.

The Bottom Line

For those who already have Google Business accounts you’ll probably want to keep your free services. People using sharepoint and other Microsoft platforms should probably stick with 365.