Business Focused IT Support
Viewing posts from: May 2015

Windows 10 – last major revision

by Nicki Dowsett in Industry News

Windows 10 - the last major revision

Windows 10 – the last major revision

Windows 10 is the final planned revision

Microsoft have recently announced that the well-known Windows operating system will have no further major revisions after version 10.  Rather than any major new changes Microsoft will continue to provide updates in an “on-going manner”.

In a statement at conference in Chicago a Microsoft development executive stated that “Windows will be delivered as a service bringing new innovations and updates in an on-going manner” adding that they expected a long future for Windows.  They will not be launching a Windows 11 at any time in the future and as yet have no name for this platform.   They have deliberately avoided the name Windows 9 and jumped straight to Windows 10 as a way to emphasis the break in successive stand-alone versions of the OS.  They have however admitted that working in this way has caused concern and issues for its customers.

Following the tradition of launching a new system every 3 years when the developers would sit down and create a whole new OS based on what was current at the time and quite possibly out of date of the customer needs by the time it was launched they feel this a better way to move forward, by constantly updating the existing OS it will break this cycle.  Giving Microsoft the opportunity to tinker and amend the software to test new features and gauge the reaction of the customers.

In the statement Microsoft spoke of how this is a positive step but do admit this is not without risk.  Whilst Windows will not be hugely revised this will continue to provide updates and new features it will improve the way in which they can continue to provide support.

Windows are currently offering a ‘Free Windows upgrade’ to some customers, and whilst it may appear good in principal, combining the best of Windows 8, similar in layout to Windows 7, it aims to work across all platforms – PC and tablet.  However it is not as good as it sounds.  Microsoft are offering this ‘Free’ upgrade to existing Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Phone 8.1 devices that upgrade within a year of its release.  Microsoft state that once a qualified device is upgraded to Windows 10, they will continue to keep it updated for the device lifetime, keeping it more secure and introducing more features and functionality for no additional charge.  However there are some exclusions more notably Windows Enterprise on version 7/8/8.1, for the average user it does sound to be good to be true.  We all know to be wary of anything that sounds to good to be true and here is why!

As the last numbered version of Windows, it is expected it will become a subscription service, so not Free.  This is likely to cause upset with many customers having to commit to a paid service in addition to any initial out lay.  With a seamless migration to Windows 10 it will be a new beginning and the OS will continue to evolve.  With the short time between previous launches it is widely believed that the users may be pushed to pay a subscription in 2-3 years.

Another reason to not take the free upgrade is Nagware, many people in the IT industry are aware to never take the first upgrade to any OS due to bugs, and subsequent following patches.  No matter how many times Windows suggest you install the new version of Windows you do not have to install and use straight away.  Patch KB3035583 on existing Windows, is officially described as an update to enable additional capabilities when new updates are available to the user. However in reality this Nagware creates 4 folders on Windows 7 and 8 designed to push adverts to the release and urging you to upgrade.  This a very strong strategy from Microsoft, this patch has been upgraded as an important update to current OS systems and means it will install automatically, it is believed that Windows 10 users will also see the same treatment when it becomes fully available.

Finally, another and possibly the most costly reason not to take the Free upgrade.  A year ago, Microsoft announced the Windows 8.1 update 1 upgrade, and at the same time announced that it will become the new servicing baseline for 8.1, so that the next security update would be dependent of the 8.1 update.  This meant that you had only 30 days to complete the updates otherwise your security notifications would cease.  It was only a four week notice period, and without the update you could be at risk, eventually Microsoft relented and extended this to 120 days.  Meaning you had more time complete the updates however your OS was possibly insecure for 4 months, so you had no option but to complete the update.  It is currently unknown if this will be the same situation with Windows 10, however as it has happened before it cannot be guaranteed.  Windows 10 is expected to launch in the coming months and they remain very quiet about future pricing and any fine details any future upgrades.

Microsoft may yet surprise many in the IT industry, with its ongoing silence regards to the pricing and fine details, many have reacted to this as a bad thing.  Microsoft need to clarify these points and this will encourage users to complete the update.  As with any new platform there is always uncertainty and until released there will always be questions and rumours.  In the meantime remember nothing in life is free.

For more information on the best platform for your business please contact us for a free consultation on our IT Support in Ashford and Kent.

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Court battle: Skype V Sky

by Nicki Dowsett in Industry News

Court battle between Sky and Skype

Court battle between Sky and Skype

Court battle: Skype V Sky

An EU court has recently ruled that the video chat software Skype has a name too similar to Sky and is likely to confuse the public!  Yes that’s right the general public are apparently likely to be confused between Sky TV and Skype.  This judgement prevents Microsoft Skype from registering a trademark of the name Skype along with a bubble design logo.

The Judges of the General Court of European Union said “ Conceptually, the figurative element conveys no concept, except that of a cloud, that would further increase the likelihood of the element ‘Sky’ being recognised within the word element Skype’ for clouds are to be found in the sky and thus maybe readily associated with the word Sky.”

In 2014, Microsoft changed the name of it’s cloud storage service from SkyDrive to OneDrive following a High court battle in London, which ruled that Sky’s trademark had been infringed.  So with another battle ensuing between the two corporations this could mean another change.

Microsoft had already launched a challenge to the current case, in 2005, following a complaint by the broadcaster stating that Skype’s branding was too similar to Sky’s to be granted an EU wide trademark.  Following this latest ruling Microsoft have said it will not now face the prospect of another re-brand. “The case was not a legal challenge to Skype’s use of the mark it was only against the registration.  We are confident that no confusion exists between the two brands and types of services offered.  This decision does not require us to alter the product names in any way.”  Microsoft believes that is still had the means to prevent anyone else from tying to call their product Skype.

However, Sky could now continue with the issue and chase Microsoft for a licensing fee even if it did not want to block the use the name Skype.  Their statement said” Sky notes today’s decision from the General Court of the European Union.  This relates to a long running dispute with Skype over the extension of its trademark applications to cover a broad range of good and services that overlap with Sky’s own trademark registration- including but not limited to TV products and services.  It is our intention to protect the Sky brand with our research showing similarities in the name and logo have the potential to confuse customers”

Unless Sky intend to launch a video chat software service in the future, I cannot see how there would be any confusion between the two products.  Not sure what this says about the EU courts expectations of the general population, as they are clearly completely different logos, names and most importantly products.  This appears to be two large corporations trying to show strength in the European market, which does not affect the end user in any way.  As a user of Skype for business (previously Lync) and a Sky TV subscriber I can see the clear difference and would not in any way get confused by the two.  Could you?

If you would like more information on how Skype for Business and OneDrive can support your business, please contact us for a free consultation

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Underfloor Cabling – Not a problem

by MPRAdmin in MPR IT Work

Underfloor Cabling – All done in house

We are often asked to flood wire new offices, and most of the time clients do not want cables on show. For us that is a challenge we gladly accept and get the tools out and install underfloor cabling.

For this Dover based shipping company in Kent, when moving in they wanted to have desks away from the wall but cables hidden – Underfloor cabling is the best way. This new office had solid concrete floors so we had to run in new channels directly into the floor, install the CAT6 cable ways then re-skin before fitting down the carpets.

All this was finished off with a small cabinet hidden away in a discrete space – the result was an office that looked cable and clutter free.

Underfloor Cabling

Underfloor Cabling

Underfloor Cabling

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Faulty or Slow Point to Point Wireless

by MPRAdmin in MPR IT Work

Faulty or Slow Point to Point Wireless

We were contacted this week by a very large local Kent company who are having issues with their Microwave Wireless Point to Point (PTP, P2P) wireless bridge. In this situation it was being used as a fall over backup to their fibre network.

The kit on site is over 8 years old and has recently stopped working, and the manufacture has long gone – This client have called us in to have a look to see if we can supply replacement parts or replace with a newer faster Wireless Point to Point (p2p) link.

Due to the age of the existing hardware finding replacement parts isn’t possible so we have quoted to upgrade their wireless bridge link from 100Mbps to either 700Mbps TDD (Half Duplex) for 1Gbps FD (Full Duplex) by using the latest Etherhaul Bridgekit hardware from Siklu. With a link length of about 2.5 miles and clear line of sight there are no reasons why a fast stable Wireless Bridge can’t be installed.

Our costs have been submitted so watch this space for a full write up

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If your firm has a slow or faulty wireless Point to Point bridge and are not sure who to turn too. Give our team here at MPR IT in Kent a call for a no obligation chat on 0800 030 20 30

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Office 365 for Android Users

by Nicki Dowsett in Industry News

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Office is now available on all devices including Android

Office 365 for Android Users

Hooray for Android Users, Microsoft have recently announced that they are launching Office 365 for android devices.

Microsoft have previously only had apps on Apple ipad and iphone, however they have now launched apps for the Android market.  This OWA app means that Android owners can now also take full advantage of the features available and gain access to new exchange features including those announced at a recent conference.  For those that don’t know OWA allows access to email, calendars and contact features within Office 365, smoothly synced together.

Many emails are now viewed initially on the phone, with many people on the go, it is therefore of great importance to businesses to ensure that their employees can be kept up to date.

Microsoft first launched this app on the ipad and iphone last year, and this is the next step in the world of communication.  All users can now benefit from the close links to Office 365 to view word, excel or power point documents on their phone or tablet, these can also be edited without the need to log on to a PC/laptop.  The perfect tool for the busy employee who spends a lot of time on the road or running to meetings.    Whilst you need separate apps to Word, Excel and Powerpoint you can easily view a document that has been shared with you via email.

With any Microsoft you can expect new features and regular updates.  One of the new features on the OWA app is codenamed clutter, which promises to separate important emails from junk that often fills your inbox.  This is not to be confused with junk mail.  The average employee will also get emails from friends and family or relating to a personal matter, these will be identified and separated out from business emails, allowing important emails not to be missed.  Who likes to open an email inbox with 200 emails when actually only 50 need to be read and dealt with prior to checking out your mums photos!  This is likely to be renamed at the time of launch however you get the idea.   Several other features are due to be launched in due course and we will keep you updated as they are announced.

Microsoft are clearly listening to the business world and working hard to produce tools to make the work day less stressful, however it does mean that you can’t run and hide away as you can now no longer say sorry I have been in meetings all day and not seen the finance report.

If you are interested to find out how Office 365 can benefit your business please contact us for a free consultation.

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Lync & Skype for Business

by Nicki Dowsett in Industry News

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Lync has been re-branded to Skype for Business

Lync & Skype for Business

Lync has changed to Skype for Business. As a remote worker for MPR IT Solutions, I can sometimes feel distant from the office without daily communication with my colleagues, whilst it is nice to be in my own space and having the ability to get my tasks done without interruption, I have found that using Lync for Office 365 has given me the tool to communicate easily and simply with my colleagues.  Rather than sending an email to ask to a question of one my team, I can use Lync to send an instant message.  I use it regularly as if I was in the office and going to someone’s desk to ask them something quickly and personally unlike an email can that can get lost in a busy inbox.  Lync tells me if someone is available to chat or if they are away from the office or away from their desk and they can do the same for me.  Lync is so easy to use and its simple lay out means you can get to grips with it without training, very similar to other IM tools.

Last week I logged on to my laptop and went to fire up Lync to see that it had changed to Skype for business, my first thought was uh oh what’s changed it worked perfectly before why the need to change something that isn’t broken.  Imagine how pleased I was to see that nothing has changed.  The functionality is all the same it appears to be a simple re-branding at present.  Though I am sure as with all technology new ideas and functions will be added in time. It looks & feels exactly the same, and basically the same as Skype we have been using for many years on a personal level.

Every week we have a team meeting, my team in the office and myself on teleconference.  With the help of Lync (now Skype) we can have a video call.  I can join the meeting as if I was in the office, however it does mean I must at least look presentable! (One of the advantages of home working, no one knows that you are sat in your onsie drinking tea as long as the work gets done.)  The video and on-line meeting function means that I can see exactly what my team are seeing, so if we are reviewing a spreadsheet on a PC, they can share the screen with me and I can relate to everything.  We can also add notes to the meeting so rather than emailing me the agenda it can be added to the screen and so I can keep fully up to date with everything.  Plus any meeting can be recorded, really helpful if you need to keep for future reference or if you want to create a training session for team members or clients.

In my previous role, I would have regular client meetings for training or to discuss contracts, we used a programme called Go To Meeting, how I wish we had had this tool then, it would have been so much simpler and less hassle to communicate on a more personal level with my clients, many of which were all round the UK.  Skype for business offers a working tool that anyone can use without the need to get software installed on individual PC’’s.  Being in the business of IT we can relate to some companies not liking lots of software being added on to a PC.

Skype for business  is a communication service part of Office 365, connecting people anywhere, any time with instant messaging, video calls and on-line meetings.  Companies that use Skype for business on-line can control the services they offer to users, without the hassle of on-site software issues.  With Skype you can allow your employees to connect with both colleagues and customers easily and simply.  Offering IM, video calling, screen sharing, and on-line meeting notes, Skype is an asset to any business.  Not only can you communicate easily in-house but also with your clients, meaning that you can have on-line meetings from anywhere in the world, at any time.  Reducing your carbon foot print and valuable travel time that could be used more efficiently. As Skype for business is linked to Office 365, I can easily link to my emails and calendar without switching to many screens, as well as being able to view my daily meetings & calendar quickly at a glance.  Not only is it available on your PC or laptop – you can also download the Lync app( this has yet to be re-branded) to your smart phone or tablet along side the other Office 365 apps including email, word & excel or Power Point.  Now you really can work from anywhere in the world any time without being tied to a desk.

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Microsoft Office 365

If you or your business can benefit using Microsoft 365 with Skype for Business contact us to discuss your needs.

Call us on: 0800 030 20 30

Email us: Sales@mpr-it.co.uk

 

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Geerings of Ashford join MPR IT Solutions for IT Support

by MPRAdmin in New customer

A Warm welcome to Geerings of Ashford

MPR IT Solutions are pleased to announce that Geerings of Ashford have joined MPR for a fully inclusive support package for all their IT needs.  We would like to take this opportunity to wish them a warm welcome.

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What are MPR IT Providing

Geerings  have recently looked to MPR IT to help with their IT systems following continued expansion and re-investments within the business.   Following a consultation and review of the business needs, it has been agreed that  MPR will be supporting Geerings by looking at technology such as Sever Visualisation, large SQL implementations, Office 365 migration, Salesforce SAAS, and deployment of large scale Multi-site data and VoIP networks.

About Geerings

Geerings is a local company with a prestigious history of over 100 years within the Ashford and Kent area.  When Walter Geering established the company in 1903, it was founded on timeless principles which remain as important to the business today as they have always been.  Walter Geering was committed to caring about his customers and his staff.  He was honest, paid promptly and had a keen eye for a good deal.  As the business grew he kept up to date and continued to plough the profits back into the business to further its development.  Since then the company has grown through careful acquisition and developed specialist expertise in a variety of separate but related fields.Today Geerings is a modern, multi faceted business serving customers across a variety of sectors throughout the UK and overseas.

Four generations and over 100 years on, the principles of Walter Geering still form the basis on which the company is run. All their activities are united by a common commitment to innovation and service established by their founder and maintained through successive generations of family management.  Geerings has since its inception, been a trusted and reliable supplier of office equipment, now providing printers, copiers as well as flexible printing software solutions.

MPR IT are very extremely proud to be associated with the prestigious Geerings group and look forward to many years of working together building a strong business relationship.

If you would like to discuss the services we can offer your business please do not hesitate to contact us, for a free, no obligation consultation.

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Windows Server 2003 Support Ending on 14th July 2015

by Nicki Dowsett in Industry News

Windows Server 2003 Support ending

Windows Server 2003 Support Ending

Microsoft have recently announced that from 14th July 2015 they will no longer be offering support for the Windows Server 2003 server.  This means that if you or your business are still operating on the 2003 if anything goes wrong they will no longer be able to assist you, and you should now be thinking about looking at alternative options to ensure safe and secure running for your systems.

There are three options to consider with Windows Server 2003 support ending, each of which has its own benefits –

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Windows Server 2003 Support ending – migrate to Office 365

Office 365 

Allowing access anywhere anyhow.  Office 365 means you can have a cloud based system that can be accessed on your desk top, laptop, tablet or smart phone anywhere in the world, with all the familiarity of Microsoft programmes such as mail, calendar, word, excel and power-point.  Accessing your files and email could not be simpler.   Emails can be branded to your business no more google or Hotmail email address for the small business allowing marketing for your business to be more efficient. With 1TB of storage per user there is plenty of storage for each user, files can easily be shared for your team to be able to access data simply and effectively.  No more emailing files back and forward as required.  They can be shared not just within your company but also your clients if needed.

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Windows Server 2003 Support Ending – migrate to Windows Server 2012 R2

Windows Server 2012 R2

With Windows Server 2003 support ending, small businesses can benefit with Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials, a cloud based solution designed specifically for small businesses.  Simplifying the integration of optional cloud-based application such as Office 365 and Azure, this option can help minimise the time and effort you spend on IT. Essential is a flexible and affordable server solution specifically priced for small business with up to 25 users and 50 devices.  Your data is protected with backups using a wizard or you can use cloud storage for a greater protection.  Backups can be run daily on individual PC’s and is easily protected with file history.  Access remotely is provided in a secure for users and admins to files, client computers and servers, My server app for Windows 8 is a touch friendly way to access all your data and perform light tasks from desktops, laptops, and tablet devices.  Integrating Office 365 you can create your own accounts in Server 2012 and associated mailbox will be created at the same time, all password protected with access from either local or cloud based.  Providing server virtualisation, SME’s can now focus on the business and not worry about IT infrastructure.

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Windows Server 2003 Support Ending – Migrate to Windows Azure

Microsoft Azure

Azure is a cloud platform with a collection of integrated services, storage, data, networking and app, all of which help you to move faster, be more efficient and save.  It is the only major platform ranked by Gartner an industry leader for both Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS).  Its combination of managed and unmanaged services allow you to build, deploy and manage applications any way you like.  Some cloud solutions ask you to choose between your data centre and public data, however not Azure, its hybrid solution gives you the best of both worlds. Storage, backup and recovery are more efficient and cost effective.  Applications can be on premises and cloud based.  Sharing the same tested platforms as Skype, Office 365, Bing  and Xbox, this offers 99.95% availability and round the clock support on Azure.   This platform can be easily and quickly scaled up or down to meet your needs and you pay only for what you use with per minute billing and a price match to competitors you will get best value for money.

What does this mean to you?

With Windows Server 2003 Support Ending, you and your business are at risk.  With no more support offered if anything goes wrong, you could lose valuable data and ultimately time and money not to mention  a whole lot of stress.  It is important you start to review your options sooner rather than later.  If you are still on Windows Server 2003 or not and would like to investigate any of these option, please contact us at MPR IT Solutions to discuss the best option for you and your business.  We can support you through the migration from start to finish and also continue to support you for the long term.  Contact us:

Telephone: 0800 030 20 30

Email: sales@mpr-it.co.uk

Web: www.mpr-it.co.uk

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