Covid-19 has fast become the hot topic in the media and conversations around the world. Whilst there is still much uncertainty as to how it will affect us as individuals and businesses, it is not something to completely dismiss.
The spread of Covid-19 is likely to increase over the coming weeks. With schools and businesses expected to be affected, be it due to members of staff/pupils becoming unwell or simply due to an external connection to someone that is affected.
This morning (Tuesday 3rd March 2020), Downing Street released a statement detailing various plans for the worst case scenario. Including a prediction that up to a fifth of the UK workforce potentially being unable to work due to Covid-19.
Disaster Management plans have traditionally been put in place for the scenarios where offices are inaccessible. With consideration made due to fire, flood or bad weather. It is unlikely that the current situation of a global contagion has been taken into consideration. Now is the time to consider and review your disaster management plan.
Catch it, Kill it, Bin it!
This phrase, and the recommendation of regular hand washing is promoted widely. Here at MPR IT, we are ensuring that this message is clear to all our staff members, whether they are office based or engineers visiting clients offices. We have also instructed all team members that should they be concerned they may have come into contact with someone suffering with Coronavirus symptoms, they should inform management and seek medical advise whilst self isolating.
Flexible Home Working
In line with the Disaster Management Plan already in place for MPR IT, all staff members have the ability to work from home and continue to support our clients with no loss of service. This is part of a plan that has been in place for many years. The main purpose of this plan is to ensure that our business can continue no matter what.
Office 365 and Cloud Computing
Software packages such as Office 365, and cloud based CRM’s are becoming more common place. Giving access to email and Microsoft applications such as Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Teams, from any location with Internet connectivity. Giving the ability to create and share documents with chosen individuals.
Along with access to documents and files, it is also vital for your business phone lines to be managed. With Hosted Telephone Systems your customers are still able to contact you. Without even having to know you are not physically in the office.
With a range of options and packages to suit businesses of all sizes, we strongly recommend that if you wish to consider the options available to your business, now is the time to contact and discuss with our team on 0800 030 20 30.Read more
Microsoft will be ending support and updates for two of their platforms in 2020. If you are currently using either Office 2010 or Windows 7, it is important to consider your options now.
Microsoft have recently announced that support for Office 2010 will be ending on 13th October 2020. This means that from this date there will be no further extension of updates on this package.
Whilst Office 2010 will still continue to function it does mean that you will be at risk of potentially harmful and serious security risks. We recommend that you look to upgrading to Microsoft Office 365 as a replacement.
MPR IT Solutions are an official Microsoft Cloud Accelerate Partner and Small Business Specialist. This means we are trained in a number of Microsoft Competencies that directly relate to implementing, migrating and configuring your Office 365 solution. We have vast experience in migrating businesses over to Office 365 and ensure minimal disruption to your daily tasks.
Secondly support will be ending on 14 January 2020 for the operating system Windows 7. Available since 2009, there have been a number of updates since the launch, with the current recommended version Windows 10 now on the market. Please see our earlier blog explaining this.
If you are using Windows 7, either on a personal computer or at your business, now is the time to consider upgrading to Windows 10. However, before you make the move, it is imperative that you consider any 3rd party software programme installed on your pc/laptop and hardware such as printers, scanners etc. as these may not be compatible. You will also need to consider the hardware resources available, as Windows 10 is a powerful operating system and therefore requires a large amount of RAM installed.
Our team of experts can audit all of your software packages (e.g Sage) and hardware (e.g RAM, printers and scanners) to ensure these are compatible and where they may not be. To upgrade without taking this into consideration, you may find that it becomes time consuming and more costly to rectify the issues.
For more information and to discuss your options to upgrade either of these Microsoft products please contact our team on 0800 030 20 30 or email firstname.lastname@example.orgRead more
Office 2007 was launched a decade ago, and included the Microsoft products – Excel,Word, Outlook, Powerpoint, and One Note. Since its launch there have been significant advancements in connectivity and productivity for many companies. This means that the majority of companies have left Office 2007 behind, and moved to Office 2016 or more likely to Office 365, however there are a few companies still using Office 2007.
Most Microsoft packages are only supported for 10 years and therefore it is the turn of Office 2007, to receive the end of life treatment. Meaning by the end of October 2017 there will be no further:
- Technical support
- Bug fixes for issues identified
- Security fixes for vulnerabilities released
In addition to the end of life support coming to an end, it is important to note Outlook 2007, will no longer connect to Office 365 mailboxes. Therefore users of Outlook 2007 will not be able to receive or send emails.
Microsoft are now urging users of the 2007 version to consider upgrading to the latest offerings. There are a number of advantages to this, not least the fact that support will be ending in a few months time. During 2017, there has been a number of global cyber attacks. People using packages that are no longer supported by Microsoft are at greater risk.
Earlier this year, in an unusual step Microsoft were pressured into releasing a fix for the Wanna Cry virus on Windows 2000. Despite having stopped supporting the package in 2010, they still had a larger number of users, who were subsequently affected by the virus. It is highly unlikely that they will make this move again in the future and are already publicising the end of life for 2007 package, with recommendations to urgently update software. The most popular choice for businesses these days is Office 365. Please see our page on Office 365 for full details on this product.
MPR IT Solutions has a wealth of knowledge and expertise in supporting companies in making the change to Office 365. We have worked with a number of companies to ensure the transition is smooth, & there is minimum disruption to staff. Please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your options to migrate to Office 365 – whether you are currently using 2007 or another version of the Office Suite.
You may have seen our recent blog about Microsoft Lync changing to Skype for business. This was effectively a re-branding of the current service offered for instant messaging and video calling for the office. At the time it was said there would be further updates.
Skype has recently announced the next phase of the re-branding, and these programs look to be promising tools for businesses. With three new programs currently being launched for Technical previews from the 1st of July. These programs will be part of the suite of Office 365 apps and will require users to use Office 365.
The first and probably the most effective will be Skype Meeting Broadcast, this will work as a similar product to GoTo Meeting. This program will allow users to hold meetings with up to 10,000 people in a browser. This will be beneficial for companies that want to hold a company meeting or Town Hall Meeting, without the hassle of travel for all staff members and finding the space big enough to hold everyone. Saving a business time and money. It will also allow businesses to hold Webinars with clients on a large scale, so not just viable for internal contacts but also external.
The second is Public Switched Telephone Network or PSTN Conferencing. This function allows for users of Skype for Business to hold a meeting within Office 365 via land line or mobile. A great additional tool to the Skype Meeting Broadcast for anyone not able to connect via a browser. This is currently only being previewed in the US but should be available in the UK in the near future. Something for us to look forward to.
The third part of this phase is Cloud PBX with PSTN Calling. This program will allow users to effectively use Skype for Business as a traditional phone system. You will be able to receive and make calls via Skype in the traditional manner and to manage these calls with the option to place calls on hold or transfer to a colleague. This is currently only on preview in the US and will use voice technology of Skype for Business and will run on the Azure OS. They expect this to be available worldwide by the end of 2015. It will require a configuration option to allow users to use existing phone lines to link in with the Azure OS and phone systems so will involve an amount of set up to be operational. However this is an interesting step forward in terms of communication.
At this stage of preview/testing period the trials are only available to selected end users, however it is promising to see a new phase already in the pipeline such a short time after the re-branding of Lync to Skype. Microsoft are clearly planning to move a step ahead in terms of programs and tools to assist businesses work more efficiently with less travel and time spent away from the desk, whilst still having a small personal touch of video conferencing.
Personally for us here at MPR we prefer to meet our clients on a face to face basis as we find this is the best way of keeping in touch with our clients, however there will always be occasions when a simple phone call is not enough and the advantage of the video conferencing will be beneficial with clients that can’t get away to meet us. Additionally the instant messaging feature is great to ask a quick question which may not need a full email or phone call. With Skype for business a video call can allow you to share your screen and present documents, this is a great tool for us when offering support to our clients.Read more
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.Read more
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.
Call us on: 0800 030 20 30
Email us: Sales@mpr-it.co.uk
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.
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.
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.Read more