Friday, 7 February 2014

Windows XP End of Support Check List.

Microsoft will end support for the Windows XP desktop Operating system on April 8th 2014. It’s been fantastic to talk with small and medium-sized business owners over the last few months who are excited about the ways that Windows 8.1 Pro can both help their business and make their employees more productive. But, with only two months left before Windows XP reaches End of Support, I’ve also talked with business owners who are still wrestling with how to make the jump from Windows XP to a modern operating system. For many small and medium-sized businesses with little to no IT budget, the process may fall on one employee or the owner themselves and upgrading 5, 25 or 250 computers can seem daunting.
As Microsoft shared, after Windows XP reaches end of support on April 8, 2014, businesses still running the old operating system face increased security risks, increased costs and lack of technical support. But you may not know what computers in your business are running Windows XP and how to migrate them to a newer OS, or if you need to purchase new devices. To help ease the process, below is a handy checklist that covers the key steps small and medium-sized businesses need to take to be ready well before April 8.
Evaluate Your Hardware Needs: First, you need to check to see if you are running Windows XP. You can do this by downloading this handy upgrade assistant. If you are running Windows XP, odds are that you are using an older desktop PC or notebook. That hardware did a great job providing a powerful Windows XP experience, but technology has improved dramatically since then. Older hardware is not designed to support a modern operating system like Windows 8.1 Pro or the mobile demands of the modern workforce.
As part of your migration, research the new form factors and devices that are available for the modern workplace before upgrading your business’ hardware. Windows 8.1 devices are all about choice, and many of them, like the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon and the Dell Venue 11 Pro, offer the power and productivity needed for a more mobile workforce with the specs and price point to meet any business need. There are also several special offers currently available from Windows and Office for businesses upgrading from Windows XP.
In addition to great mobile form factors, the choices for modern desktop computers are better than ever. New mini-desktops like the Lenovo ThinkCentre Tiny give you a full power desktop in a small package that can fit almost anywhere. If you’re looking for maximum horsepower, be sure to check out the HP Z820 workstation. It’s the one I use on my personal desktop and it delivers amazing performance in a wide range of configurations.
Prep Your Data: Once you know which devices make sense for your organization, you’ll need to think through how you are going to move your company data. It’s common to feel a bit nervous when it comes time to move years of sensitive company data across devices, but advances in cloud technology make it easier than ever to backup, store and transfer files.
As you map out your migration strategy, include a plan for how you will both backup sensitive files and securely transfer your company data across PCs. If you are unsure as to the most efficient way to do this for your organization, Microsoft has resources to help you sort through the various options.
Check Your Apps: Few things are as frustrating as picking a new device, moving over your data and sitting down to work, only to discover that a critical business application is not compatible with your new operating system. To avoid this, evaluate your applications before starting your migration. Not only should you check the applications downloaded directly onto your PCs, you should also double check any web-based applications that your business uses to ensure they will work with an updated version of your internet browser.
Deploy Windows 8.1 Pro: With your new hardware in place, your data safely transferred and your applications up and running, your business is ready to take full advantage of a modern operating system like Windows 8.1 Pro. With Windows 8.1 Pro, your business devices will be more secure and easier to manage and your employees will be more productive than ever before. For additional information on the specifics of deploying Windows 8.1, go here.
Microsoft are proud of the value that Windows XP has offered to businesses for more than a decade and we are excited to help companies reach the next level of productivity with Windows 8.1 Pro.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

SkyDrive is no more! Now called OneDrive - Mircosoft

After running into legal problems with the name SkyDrive -- satellite television provider Sky sued for trademark infringement -- Microsoft announced last July it was going to change the name of its cloud storage service. Sky generously gave Microsoft some time to come up with an alternative and today we learn the new name is… drumroll… OneDrive.
Let’s hope One Direction aren’t feeling litigious.
Seriously, though. Why OneDrive? Well, according to Microsoft, "We know that increasingly you will have many devices in your life, but you really want only one place for your most important stuff. One place for all of your photos and videos. One place for all of your documents. One place that is seamlessly connected across all the devices you use. You want OneDrive for everything in your life"
Worried about what the change might mean? Microsoft says, "For current users of either SkyDrive or SkyDrive Pro, you’re all set. The service will continue to operate as you expect and all of your content will be available on OneDrive and OneDrive for Business respectively as the new name is rolled out across the portfolio".
You can find out more about the service, such as when it’s going to be available, by visitingonedrive.com. Register your interest by filling in your email address, and as well as telling you when OneDrive will be available, Microsoft will send you a torrent of promotional emails. Unless you opt out. So maybe avoid passing on your email address, and just keep an eye on the website.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Amazon WorkSpaces, easier than Citrix.

Amazon WorkSpaces is a fully managed desktop computing service in the cloud. WorkSpaces allows you to easily provision cloud-based desktops that allow end-users to access the documents, applications and resources they need with the device of their choice, including laptops, iPad, Kindle Fire, or Android tablets. With a few clicks in the Management Console you can provision a high quality desktop experience for any number of users. Watch the video »



Amazon WorkSpaces offers you an easy way to provide a fully managed, cloud-based desktop experience to your end-users. You don’t have to worry about procuring or deploying hardware or installing complex software to deliver a desktop experience to your users. Amazon WorkSpaces takes care of all the heavy lifting of managing hardware and software, and tasks such as patching and maintenance, enabling you to deliver a high quality desktop experience to your users.

Whether you are managing traditional desktops or an on-premises solution for virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), both of these approaches require significant capital investment and are often complex and difficult to deploy and manage. Using a cloud-based desktop environment eliminates the need for up-front investment and ongoing management of infrastructure, providing you with an easy, cost-effective way to bring a secure and broadly accessible desktop experience to your users. For a low monthly fee, Amazon WorkSpaces provides a complete cloud-based desktop computing service including compute, persistent storage, and applications. Your users get a better experience than a traditional desktop with more functionality, such as the ability to access their applications and data from a device of their choice. You get a simpler way to provision desktops for users for half the cost of an on-premises VDI solution.  Please see the TCO Comparison: Amazon WorkSpaces and traditional Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) blog post for more information on cost comparison.

You simply select from a choice of WorkSpaces bundles that offer a range of different amounts of CPU, memory, storage, and choice of applications -- and launch the number of WorkSpaces that you require. You can choose from two different hardware options and then choose a bundle with software pre-installed or opt to install your own applications. As soon as the WorkSpaces are ready, users receive an email giving them instructions on how to download the WorkSpaces client and connect to their WorkSpace. Amazon WorkSpaces provides users a persistent desktop experience that can be accessed from a variety of devices such as a laptop computer (Mac OS or Windows), iPad, Kindle Fire, or Android tablet. The user’s applications and data stay the same regardless of which device they use, so they can easily switch between devices without losing their work.

Amazon WorkSpaces provides you with the choice of creating a standalone, managed directory for users who will use WorkSpaces, or you can integrate with your on-premises Active Directory so that your users can use their existing credentials to obtain seamless access to corporate resources. This integration works via a secure hardware VPN connection to your on-premises network using Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) or with AWS Direct Connect. You can manage your Amazon WorkSpaces with the existing tools you are using for your on-premises desktops to maintain full administrative control. 

Amazon WorkSpaces offers a choice of service bundles providing different hardware and software options to meet your needs. You can choose from the Standard or Performance family of bundles that offer different CPU, memory, and storage resources, based on the requirements of your users. If you would like to launch WorkSpaces with more software already pre-installed (e.g., Microsoft Office, Trend Micro Anti-Virus, etc.), you should choose the Standard Plus or Performance Plus options. If you don’t need the applications offered in those bundles or you would like to use software licenses for some of the applications in the Standard Plus or Performance Plus options that you’ve already paid for, we recommend the Standard or Performance bundles. Whichever option you choose, you can always add your own software whenever you like.