Here comes Windows 8

Anticipation for Windows 8 has been fierce because of some major changes to the look and feel of the operating system.  Here is a basic rundown on some of the new and improved features of both Windows 8 Pro and Enterprise so you’ll know what to expect as the release date draws near. The following will help you decide which version will prove to be more useful for you and your business/organization.

Windows 8 Pro

Windows 8 Pro replaces Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate and is aimed at business users and technical professionals. It is now available.

Features

Windows Store and Apps. Windows 8 will provide its users with access to the upcoming Windows Store. The Windows Store will feature both free and paid applications and will aim for greater transparency than Apple’s App Store and iTunes store. Some of the apps that come with Windows 8 include Bing Finance, Bing Maps, Bing Weather, Calendar, Camera, Mail, Messaging, Photos, SkyDrive (a cloud storage app), and Reader.

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Operating Systems - Why Windows Home Edition won't cut it

 Nearly every week, someone comes in with a computer they received as a present, that they bought on sale, or over the Internet asking how to get it connected to their business network.  Unfortunately, we have to deliver the bad news that their new computer either needs an upgrade or in some cases may not work in their business environment a all.

Are consumer grade software and hardware good enough for your business? We're asking that question, and we're going to focus on Windows operating systems in this article. This comparison really goes hand-in-hand with a compariosn of computers, as Consumer Grade computers generally come with Windows Home versions pre-installed.

Most small businesses with more than a few computers have them connected to a server, creating a network. This allows the network to communicate with all of the components that are connected together, i.e. other computers, data files, printers, and email.

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BYOD - Getting real about Security

How many iOS, Android, and other mobile devices are using your company network?

Hint: The numbers are higher than you think.
 
"A client thought that they only had two or three iPad users on their business network," says Clay Ostlund, senior systems engineer at Marco, a Cisco Premier Certified Partner. "When we polled the network with a Cisco Identify Services Engine ISE, it showed there were 100 iPads active." Welcome to the new work culture of bring-your-own-device (BYOD)!  Many people will use their personal smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device on their employer's network. No matter what the IT policy is.  As a leader of your business, it's time to protect your company with BYOD security strategies. Here are a number of ways to do it:

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Three hidden costs of Aging Networks

Network refresh. . .I’ll give you a moment to stop cringing.   Better? OK!

It’s something that most business leaders don’t want to think about, but needs to be considered when your network reaches right around the three year mark. A network refresh is an investment, there’s no doubt about that, but the cost of doing nothing and continuing to work with an aging network infrastructure most likely has greater costs that you may not even realize.
 
Network components can begin to deteriorate after 3 years. That means they may run slower and require more maintenance than new equipment. Add to that the demands on today’s networks are much higher than ever ...  think about how much more work your organization does using computer technology than you did just a few years ago!  Usage will only continue to grow and that you’re asking equipment designed from a previous age to deliver on these increased demands.
 
Let’s take a look at some of the underlying costs associated with an aging network:
  • Performance
If your network continually goes down, runs slowly, or requires significant maintenance, your team is losing work time. This costs real money and that's not just the cost of repairing and maintaining a failed system.  In addition, there is decreased staff productivity and results. Take a moment to calculate the money lost on just employee salary for an hour of down time…
 
Average Employee Hourly Rate x Number of Employees = Employee Salary lost per hour
 
Say your average employee hourly rate is $20 and you have 10 employees – that’s $200 for just one hour of downtime! And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. What about customer satisfaction when your business comes to a halt, without access to critical data? If a network crashes, it will usually be down for at least a few hours before a technician can be onsite to remediate any problems.

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Systems updates and patches - The dreaded terror

 

We all know that ghoul- the System Update. Oh, how every user dreads the rearing of its ghostly head! OK, maybe it isn’t that bad, but when that icon appears in the bottom of our screen our reaction is always the same, “Are you kidding me? Do I have to update my computer? It’s going to keep me from working. I don’t have the time or energy for a reboot right now. Surely I don’t need it that badly. Everything is working just fine!”

When computer technicians first examine a unit in trouble, they look to see if the updates are current. If the company and/or computer are not being monitored and maintained by an IT firm, many times the tech will discover that the machine suffering from a virus or spyware has not been updated in a while. It’s not a coincidence.

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