The End is Near: Goodbye Windows 7

Support for Windows 7 Ends as of January 14, 2020 - Mark Your Calendar

January 2020 is the end of Windows 7 as we know it. Like saying farewell to a dear friend, Microsoft has begun to phase out 7 in favor of the new and improved Windows 10. Businesses who have yet to make the switch will want to consider upgrading in the near future.

Don’t worry; your computers won’t magically stop working on the first of the new year. The basic features of Windows 7 will continue to function as normal. That said, there are still plenty of reasons to upgrade.

Security

Keeping your system up to date and fortified against malware is the number one reason to make the leap to Windows 10. Although Windows 7 won’t stop working entirely, automatic updates and Microsoft support will expire at the stroke of midnight. This means Windows antivirus is no longer protecting your company’s data. Tech experts are already anticipating cyberattacks to increase in light of the January deadline, specifically targeting users and corporations who have yet to upgrade.

Make sure your computer doesn’t turn back into a pumpkin. Upgrade early to allow sufficient time for any minor downtime, while ensuring your network isn’t left vulnerable come January 1st.

User Friendly

Don’t expect a substantial learning curve for Windows 10. The latest version prioritizes simplicity. Documents, folders, data, and software should transfer seamlessly onto the new interface, with little to no additional steps. In fact, many of the common programs businesses rely on, such as Office Suite, will automatically update so you can carry on with business as usual.

Revolutionizing the Future of Tech

Windows 10 offers an array of new and exciting features that improve efficiency and collaboration. This includes more ways to interface with devices, including iOS integration through Windows’ newly announced teamwork with Apple. Heightened security is also a huge plus for businesses. Cracking down on data protection is giving many companies additional peace of mind when it comes to managing critical systems information.

If you’re ready to take the plunge, our team can help outfit your business with everything from Office 365 to Microsoft SharePoint and more! We can assist in upgrading to Windows 10 by identifying the number of licenses you’ll need, compatibility of current software, and whether or not your operating systems are up to the task. Give us a call today and ring in the new year right with new and improved features!

Microsoft Teams Adds New Functionality in 2019

Microsoft Teams Adds New Functionality in 2019
Microsoft Teams

As we settle into the new year, many companies are beginning to roll out updates and upgrades to their tools and systems. Microsoft is no exception. Microsoft continues to add value to the Microsoft Teams tool with new functions and capabilities. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Communication

Effective communication within a business requires tools and products that can work together seamlessly. Teams is adding the new functionality of Teams Rooms and Teams-Only mode to further streamline Teams communication elements. Teams Rooms is basically a re-brand of the Skype rooms system with the added functionality of proximity detection so that nearby rooms can be added if needed. Teams-Only mode allows companies to make a seamless switch from Skype for Business to Teams by enabling Teams as the primary communication tool for their organization. IT Administrators will have the capability to upgrade only select people to Teams Only or enable an entire organization or group.

IT Administration

Teams is rolling out some new tools for IT administration of Teams. In order to help an organization run smoothly, the IT administration needs to have a good idea of how their tools are being used and be able to tailor tools to their users specific needs. With the addition of usage reports, IT Administrators can view Teams usage, user activity, and device usage to determine how well their organization is adopting Teams and if they are using it to its full capabilities.

Teams Templates

When you find something that works for you, you want to be able to replicate it, right? The Teams Templates function allows IT Administrators to pre-define channels, apps, and tabs that their organization can use as a template when building a new project in teams. This allows the organization to focus more on their collaboration and spend less front-end time setting up the system. Teams is also introducing a set of industry-specific templates for education, retail, and healthcare focused on the organizational areas where they are most likely to use Teams. IT Administrators will be able to customize and expand these template to better fit their organization by leveraging new APIs.

Employee Empowerment

Microsoft understands that everyone works a little differently and work styles change across role, function, and industry. Microsoft is committed to enabling Teams as a tool that everyone can use to meet their needs and work to the best of their abilities. The new Shifts functionality in Teams simplifies the process of planning and creating schedules by offering key capabilities to both managers and workers. You will also be able to integrate your workforce management system with Teams by leveraging a Graph API. Additionally, key mobile features such as location sharing, record and share audio messages, and smart camera are being enabled. The mobile experience is customizable to provide workers and IT teams the ability to choose the capabilities most useful for their organization.

Customization

Build and enable your bots to become more powerful and impactful by engaging new capabilities like retrieving a list of channels in a team, creating a 1:1 chat with a specific user, or accepting messages only from specific users.

Microsoft is constantly adding new and improved apps to Teams. Karmabot, MindMeisterThe Connector for Jira server, and Atlassian’s Confluence Cloud are a few recent additions that have a made a big impact in furthering Teams’ collaboration capabilities.

Teams continues to grow and evolve as a communication and collaboration tool for businesses with new updates rolling our regularly. Reach out to 4CornerIT for your Teams enablement and IT needs.

Support for Windows 7 Ends as of January 14, 2020 – Mark Your Calendar

Support for Windows 7 Ends as of January 14, 2020 - Mark Your Calendar

Just like the end of Windows XP, which many of us loved, Windows 7 lifespan is coming to an end. It is imperative that your business is thinking about what you are going to do when Microsoft is no longer providing security updates. Without these updates’ your operating systems will be wide open to security risks and cyber attacks. You have almost a year before the expiration, so steps should be taken soon to defray any expenses which are incurred. Depending on how old your hardware is a budget adjustment may be necessary.

There a couple of upgrade choices to look into, and deciding which is the best option for your business takes careful consideration.

Machines utilizing Windows 7 operating systems can be upgraded to Windows 10. The laptop or tower must have a 1GHz or faster processor, memory needs to be at least 1GB RAM for 32-bit and 2GB for 64-bit with a minimum of 20GB hard disk space and an 800 x 600 screen video card. If your equipment is new enough and meets these requirements, then you can purchase the licensed Windows 10 Pro for $199.99. That is the price for each PC and laptop.

Microsoft Office 365 can be outright purchased or used on a monthly basis providing you subscribe for a full year, either choice provides free upgrades. There is a caveat, a limited number of users can be signed in at a time.

The last option is to purchase new machines with Windows 10 already installed. This may be the wisest choice due to the time between now and January. Budgeting for new purchases and beginning their acquisition soon will get your business past this crisis as well as updating some tired old equipment that may have seen better days. 

One thing is certain, technology is always changing, but Windows 10 will have extended support until October 14, 2025. So whichever upgrade option you decide upon, additional changes will not have to be made for quite a while.

What’s New for Microsoft Teams in 2019

What's New for Microsoft Teams in 2019

As part of their efforts to empower staff members across a broad spectrum of industries, as well as a wide variety of functions and roles, Microsoft has recently added increased capabilities to their Microsoft Teams application. By increasing the features and capabilities within the app, Microsoft hopes to create a seamless, easy to use environment where team members can communicate and interact with other project members. By increasing communication between staff members, companies can expect higher levels of productivity and efficiency within their group projects. 

Organizing Staff

Of course, in order to ensure projects are managed as efficiently as possible, it’s important to keep track of the individuals participating in the project itself. With Microsoft Teams, team member schedules are easily created, monitored and adjusted as the need arises, so everyone involved stays informed of the status of their team co-members, as well as keeping track of their own schedule. 

In addition, the Microsoft Teams software also provides a mechanism in which administrators can oversee and monitor the projects to ensure both the team members and the tools within the projects are operating as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Staying in Touch

Microsoft Teams offers several mechanisms which project members can use to communicate with each other including: text, image capturing and uploading, video conferencing, file sharing, and voice interaction. Project members can decide which communication mechanism best suits their needs at the time. For example — enjoying the flexibility of having a private chat about an Excel spreadsheet with one team member, followed later by uploading a photo of a warehouse issue and sending it to a supervisor for review. Whether team members are down the hall or across the city in a different building, Microsoft’s Teams application allows staff to immediately address issues rather than waiting until they get back to their desk or their employer’s physical location.

Organizing Meetings 

Microsoft also decided to rebrand their Skype room systems into Microsoft Team Rooms. With Team Rooms, project coordinators can create, schedule and invite team members for group meetings, no matter where they are throughout the globe. Regardless of physical location, individual staff members can all meet together in a Team Room, and collaborate and share with each other through both video and voice.

If you would like to know more about additional communication and collaboration features offered through Microsoft Teams, please contact us!

Using Old Computer Operating Systems

Operating Systems

Most people who use computers on a regular basis are familiar with the term “operating system”. Any computer built has some way to utilize the hardware that makes up the computer — to carry out the work needed for which the computer was built. For decades, operating systems have been changed and upgraded to meet the needs of many changing industries.

In decades long past, operating systems were not user-friendly and were generally the playing field of scientists and hobbyists. However, more recently, particularly in the past 10 years, computer operating systems such as Microsoft Windows, iOS, and Android have evolved to the point where not only are they user-friendly, but can do a great many different tasks and for a relatively inexpensive monetary cost.

But does the existence of new operating systems mean that those preceding them are useless? Do old computers with older operating systems have to be thrown out or hauled away to the recycling center? Not necessarily and not if one is willing to do a little research. For example, a computer running Microsoft Windows XP, though Microsoft has mostly stopped supporting it, can be configured as a file server where several employees connected to the same network can access company files on the server.

Furthermore, where internet-based backup solutions are not desired, backup routines can work fine within the said type of setup. Storing office files on one computer locally (a server), makes it easy to backup company files since only the server would need to be backed up — if company files are stored on an array of several different employees’ computers, that can make backing up company files tedious.

It should be noted that the administrator of any file server should carefully consider security risks revolving around the use of it, if connected to the internet. This is especially true if the operating system in use is no longer supported by its manufacturer. 

This is only one in a bunch of ways to utilize outdated computer operating systems. Please contact us so that we may assist in utilizing old computers that might be stored away in a closet.