Windows 8.1 features announced

Windows_July03_BWindows 8, Microsoft’s newest operating system (OS), was released in October 2012. The users who updated found a drastically different, more modern OS, that took a bit of time to get used to. Like every other program, Windows 8 was less than perfect, and many users complained. As a result Microsoft and has adopted a yearly update program. The first update – Windows 8.1 – was officially announced in May of this year.

Here is a brief overview of the new features and changes that will be introduced in Windows 8.1.

iPhone’s VIP Inbox explained

iPhone_July22_BLove it or hate it, email is one of the most essential components of business communication. Sure, it enables nearly instant communication, but it has also led to people often expecting replies immediately. You can be sure that the number of emails you receive will continue to increase, it may even overwhelm your inbox. If you use the iPhone’s Mail app, this could be an issue – no one wants to scroll past hundreds of emails to find the one important one. Luckily, there is a feature of Mail – VIP Inbox, that could help.

What exactly is VIP Inbox?
The VIP Inbox is a feature that allows you to set certain people as ‘very important’. When they send you an email, it will be automatically highlighted and easier to see. They will also be viewable from a specific Inbox or folder within your main Inbox. The emails aren’t moved, or duplicated, they are just easier to see. This is a great feature for users who receive a large number of emails, most of which are less than important, or users who have too many emails and tend to lose important ones from specific senders, clients, employees, etc.

When you activate this feature, you can set who is a VIP, and even set specific notification sounds and settings, which will make emails from these people stand out when you receive them. You can then select this Inbox when you open the Mail app and then view only emails from VIPs.

How to establish VIP Inbox
If you would like to set up a VIP Inbox, you can do so by:

  1. Opening the Mail app on your iDevice.
  2. Tapping on the blue circle with the white arrow.
  3. Selecting Add VIP and selecting a contact who you would like to be a VIP. If their name is grey, it means they cannot be added as a VIP, and this is likely because you don’t have their email address.

Contacts you select will be automatically registered as a VIP, and any future emails should be labeled as such. Once you have finished selecting your VIP list, you should customize the notifications associated with this Inbox. This can be done by:

  1. Taping on Settings on your iDevice.
  2. Selecting Notifications followed by Mail.
  3. Tapping on VIP.

From here you can customize:

  1. Alert Style - You can select from None, Banners, Alerts. None will display no notification when you get a new VIP mail, Banners will display a message at the top of your phone which will fade, and Alerts will display a pop-up window that requires an action.
  2. Badge App Icon - Will display the icon at the top of your device when you get an email. Slide this to On if you want the icon to be displayed.
  3. New Mail Sound - Allows you to pick a sound that will play when you get a new VIP email. It is a good idea to pick something different from the usual Mail notification sound.

The key factor to be aware of here is that this will not clean your Inbox. What it will do is enable you to better track emails from important contacts. From here, you can focus on reducing the number of emails in your Inbox.

If you would like to learn more about this feature or how the iPhone and iPad can help improve the way you work, please contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Windows: 6 different shutdown options

Windows_July29_BWhile there are many different kinds of computer out there, with these numbers expanding all the time, the vast majority are running Microsoft’s Windows. This operating system (OS) has many interesting features, some of which are little-known by users, despite the popularity of Windows. One example is the number of different options you have when you go to shut down your computer.

Here is an overview of the six different options Windows users have when they go to shut down their systems.

XP to retire. Is your business ready?

Windows_July30_BDid you know that Microsoft is pulling support for their popular, yet aging, operating system Windows XP on April 8, 2014? This may seem like ages away yet, but for businesses still using this version of Windows, this is a big issue. When Microsoft does pull the plug, you could see an increase in security issues, along with a cessation of all support, and ultimately higher IT costs. Is your business prepared?

April 2014 is rapidly approaching and it would be a good idea to prepare your organization for the end of XP. Here are four questions you can ask yourself in order to help you get your business ready, with our suggestion for the best way to go about upgrading.

1. What systems use XP?
This should be the first question you ask yourself. You should take some time and look at all laptops and desktops currently in use, and in storage (if any). Take note of how many of these systems use XP. You should also look at other systems like Point of Sale, alarms, and basically anything with an operating system. If these run XP, take note, because you will need to make replacements.

2. Do we need Windows 7 or 8?
No matter what you do, you are going to have to upgrade to a new operating system. There are two viable options – Windows 7 or Windows 8. Despite what Microsoft’s marketing machine will tell you, Windows 8 may not be the best option for your business. This is especially true for businesses still running XP. The reason for this is because if you are still running XP then your systems are likely older, and may not be able to run Windows 8 efficiently.

Another reason to consider Windows 7 is that it is an older OS, but still supported by Microsoft and will continue to be so until at least 2015 for mainstream support and 2020 for extended support. For information on what both types of support entail, please check out the table in part three of Microsoft’s Lifecycle policy page. What this means for businesses is that you will have essential support for another seven years at least.

The final reason to still consider Windows 7 is that it is generally easier to update to from XP, and it also has a larger market share, with over 45% of Windows systems are running Windows 7. However, if you are buying completely new systems, Windows 8 could be more viable.

3. Do we need to update hardware and software?
Chances are high that if you use Windows XP, there are a number of important/essential programs that your business relies on. You should take stock of these programs and systems and find out if they are supported by and will run on Windows 7.

For hardware, you should check and see that this is compatible with, and meets the minimum requirements for Windows 7. If hardware doesn’t meet the requirements, even if you are choosing to upgrade to Windows 8 (which requires slightly more computing power), you will need to upgrade your systems and hardware.

If you determine that upgrades are needed, you should develop an upgrade plan that will minimize downtime and disruptions, while having all upgrades done before April.

4. What about Microsoft Office?
Microsoft Office 2013 was released last year, and what this means for companies using older versions of Office, like 2007 and 2003, is that support will be soon ending. In other words, it is time to upgrade Office as well. When Microsoft pulls support for Office 2007, you can bet that there will be an increase in the potential of security breaches and maybe even a lack of document support.

If you are running an older version of Office, it will be worth upgrading to at least Word 2010, or even Office 365. Again, you will need to be sure that your systems can support any changes.

What is the best way to go about upgrading my systems?
Microsoft ending support for XP may not seem like a big issue, after all, many users should be able to simply install Windows 7 or 8 and be on their way. But, many businesses have other systems, like servers, networks, computers, etc. that they also need to consider. This can quickly turn a seemingly easy update into a never ending and costly nightmare.

This is why we recommend contacting an IT partner like us as soon as possible. We can be a big help in not only preparing your systems, but also helping you find the system that will best fit into your organization for the future at a budget you can afford.

If you are still running XP, please contact us today in order to be ready for the cessation of service in less than a year from now.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.