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Upgrade to Windows 10 – A How-To Guide For Busy People

The highly anticipated Windows 10 is finally here. It has been several years since the last time Windows released a new version, and Windows 8 wasn’t well received. The interface issues with Windows 8 probably make you wonder if it’s worth the hassle again. If you decide to proceed with the upgrade (if you are a current CS customer please make sure to let us know before you begin) here is a quick How To guide.

  1. Check System Requirements to make sure your device is compatible.
  2. Backup your data!
  3. Go to the Download Windows 10 If you are on a 32-bit version, then you need to download the 32-bit tool; if you’re on a 64-bit version then get the 64-bit tool.

Tip:

If you need to check your Windows version:

Right click on My Computer or This PC in File Explorer ->

Go to Properties ->

Find it under System – System Type.

Upgrade to Windows 10 - Check Windows version 1

Upgrade to Windows 10 - Check Windows version 2

  1. Run the 32-bit tool or 64-bit tool, and select the Upgrade Your PC option. Windows 10 will begin downloading.
  2. Select Keep Personal files and Apps to ensure that you will have your files and applications in place after the upgrade.
  3. The installation will start and reboot automatically as needed.
  4. You will have a chance to customize system settings, depending on your preferences and needs.
  5. After the upgrades is done, you can enjoy the new Windows 10 immediately!

Tip:

If you need to restore previous Windows version:

Go to Settings – Update & Security ->

Choose the option “Go Back to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1”.

How to upgrade to Windows 10_Customer

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.

 

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.

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.

AT&T rolling out the SaaS

To most consumers, the Cloud is a place to have offsite storage.  To designers, it can be a place to dump data to free up more hardware for other things.  How about adding retail space to the list?

AT&T is rolling out SaaS (Software as a Service) products to over three million of its small business customers.  Most notable on the list is the ability to access Microsoft Office suite programs over the Cloud.

This offers several advantages.  The first of which is the freeing of IT resources.  All the programs and the data you input into them are held offsite.  That means you need extra hardware to run an HD teleconference or require constantly looking for CD keys to give out when everyone upgrades to the latest version of Office.

The second major advantage is scale.  The SaaS is rolling out in two tiers.  The first one allows up to 25 users download and upload all the AT&T cloud services at any given time.  For smaller businesses, that means when a new employee is hired, you don’t need to buy yet another cd for Microsoft Office.  Instead, they can just download all the data they need and be able to look at and share all relevant documents.  Essentially, it’s like having your own server for only six dollars month.

The upper tier is basically the same save for unlimited users.  You’ll probably save on IT costs by having AT&T dealing with all that.

Yet, if you want your own dedicated cloud—you might want to check this out.

 

 

Free Stuff: Microsoft’s Upgrade Offer

Attention: Free Stuff From Microsoft

From now until April 30th, 2013 customers who buy a retail copy of Office 2010 or one of several stand-alone applications will receive a download of the Office 2013 or the 2013 version of the stand-alone.  In a few instances, you can even get a free one year subscription to Office 365.  The offer is called the Microsoft Office Pre-launch Offer.

There’s no need to fear.  Microsoft has done this many a time before.  They did something similar with Office 2007 and the release of Office 2010.  The only difference this time is that there is a choice.

Should you choose to buy Office Home & Student 2010; you’ll be able to choose an ever-green license or a year of Office 365 Home Premium.  The 365 subscription will let you install Office on up to five Windows devices.

Office Professional 2010 purchasers will be able to choose between Professional 2013 and three months of Small Business Premium or one year of Office 365 Home Premium.

Beware though, if you have Office for Mac, there will be no upgrade for you.  You’ll simply get one year of Office 365.

If you need to get an Office suite, now is the time.  Office Home & Student 2010 runs about $100, and a new shiny copy of 2013 will cost you about $139.99 plus tax.  Should you choose to take the deal, you’ll need to redeem it by May 31st 2013.

What is Hyper V?

So you’ve got all this business related data.  It’s important to your business and your customers that this data is safe, secure, and accessible even or especially in a crisis.  What to do, what to do?

Well you could set up Hyper V on your Windows Server.  The virtualization system that shipped with the Windows 2012 Servers is better than ever.

How it Works

In basic terms, Hyper V is used between two server units.  One, the primary site, is where you upload all your data.  The other, the replication site, receives the data.  First you need to setup an initial replication, which can be over a network or physically transferred, such as on a USB device and placed in the replication site.

After that, any changes made on the initial site are transferred to the replication site.  This will occur, essentially, continuously and full transfers will vary depending on how long they take to complete.  Generally speaking, transfer will occur every five to ten minutes.

Why This is Important

Hyper V allows for the replica site to take over the workload time.  For example, if there’s a flood and your primary site server is damaged, your replica site, which can be a thousand miles away, will be brought online with virtually no down time. If or when you get your primary site back up, you can set a reverse replication, sending the changes down to the replication site back to the primary site.

What About the Cloud?

Hyper V can be used a cloud hosting service.  The system can be set so there is one replication site to receive data from multiple primary sites.  Security can be maintained because certificate-based authentication can be implemented so that only certain users can access specific areas of the replication site.

The Advantage of Hyper V

Hyper V’s major advantage is that it’s simple to set up.  All you need are two Windows 2012 servers.  There is no additional software required.  Staff wise, only a few IT professionals can maintain this system.  For more information about IT staff augmentation click here.

Five Windows Shortcuts That Will Save You Time

When I’m on the computer I find nothing disrupts the flow of work faster than having to lift my hands off the keyboard to deal with a touch pad or mouse.  I’m sure you feel the same way.  Maybe that’s why in the movies they never touch a mouse when using a computer, or something like that.  So, here are a few short cuts in Windows that I hope will make your life easier.

1.       Alt+ Enter

After selecting a folder or icon, pressing alt+ enter will bring up all the properties of the selected item.  If you just want to change a files name, just hit F2 while it is selected

2.       Ctrl+ Up Arrow

Looking to move quickly through a wordy document?  Pressing Ctrl and the up arrow will move the insertion point (the blinking bar) to the pervious paragraph.  Using the down arrow will subsequently move you to the next paragraph.  Also, using the right and left arrows with move you from word to word.

3.       Hold Shift while inserting a CD-ROM

Don’t want auto-play to activate?  Just hold down shift when placing a CD into your optical drive.

  1. 4.       Windows key+ M

Don’t want someone to see what you’re doing?  Try hitting the Windows key and M.  That will minimize all open windows.  Want to restore them all again?  Just hit Windows key, M, and Shift.

5.       Windows key+ E

This will open My Computer in an instant.  Doesn’t matter what window or program you have open.

I find the shortcuts above a real time saver.  Once you work them into your routines, I’m sure you’ll wonder how you ever got along without them!