Upcoming changes to major Microsoft products

Microsoft Windows 8.1 released on October 18th

The second iteration of Microsoft Windows 8, 8.1, occurred on October 18th.  Significant changes to this operating system include:

  • Boot to Desktop – Yes, you can restore the Start button and bypass the tiles, but don’t expect the traditional Start menu to appear since pressing Start takes you to the live tiles of the current Start screen.  (You can, at least, shut-down from the Start button once again.)
  • Help + Tips – Helpful clues are sequenced to usage, permitting an easier start-up and shortening learning times.
  • Smart Search – Windows 8 Search charm on steroids; all search results, local and otherwise, pooled together in a comprehensive summary.
  • Snap – Open up-to four applications and display them simultaneously on a single screen.

An excellent review of Windows 8.1 by Brad Chapos of PC World is available at http://www.pcworld.com/article/2048508/windows-8-1-review-the-great-compromise.html.  He also provides the top-five reasons to upgrade to Windows 8.1 at http://www.pcworld.com/article/2043268/the-top-5-reasons-to-upgrade-to-windows-8-1.html.

Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 release date was October 18th

Release 2 (R2) of Microsoft Windows Server 2012 is now available. 

Per Microsoft:  “Windows Server 2012 R2 offers exciting new features and enhancements across virtualization, storage, networking, virtual desktop infrastructure, access and information protection, and more.”

Along with this revision, Microsoft increased pricing on Windows Server Data Center to $6,155 and on Remote Desktop Services (RDS) Client Access Licenses (CALs) to $118.

For details, please visit http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/windows-server/windows-server-2012-r2.aspx.

The end is near for Windows XP, Office 2003, Server 2003, and Exchange 2003

Microsoft is ending support of Windows XP, its most-popular, desktop-computer operating system, on April 8th, 2014.  In addition, Office 2003, Windows Server 2003, and Exchange Server 2003 will reach end-of-life (EOL) on this date.

Basically, Microsoft will discontinue patching and updating these products, which exposes them to security and compliance risks; it will likely also end support for third-party applications that work with these products.

Microsoft’s message:  Upgrade these products now or risk problems later.

The (near-term) future of computer technology – Microsoft versus Google

The crystal ball is still foggy, but here are my thoughts on Microsoft versus Google and (what I believe is) the battle for world domination.  (Microsoft sales are around $77B, primarily from Windows software (25%), business software (32%), and server software (25%); Google is about $55B with approximately 87% of its revenue from advertising.)

Notice, I did not include Apple:  The big play is between Microsoft and Google and it is occurring across multiple lines:

  • Google (search) versus Bing
  • Microsoft Office versus Google Apps
  • Google Android versus Microsoft Windows

Google (search) versus Bing

In the search-engine market, there is no comparison with Google (#1) capturing an average of 67% of monthly queries in the US while Bing (#2) captures only 17%.  In search, queries equate to advertising revenue, the heart of Google’s success.  (Search is currently not a significant part of Microsoft’s sales.)

Google’s familiar, plain-white background seems functional, but also trendy with the occasional changes to the GOOGLE moniker.  Bing’s full-screen, image-based background usually displays beautiful vistas or current events; the scrollable “Popular Now” bar across the bottom adds an items-of-interest aspect.

Bing (aka Microsoft) suggests comparing the two via www.BingItOn.com.

Winner (by a wide margin) is Google; Bing is interesting, but it will take some major work to break Google’s dominance in this area.

Microsoft Office versus Google Apps

When it comes to productivity applications; Microsoft Office 2013 owns the market at 92% while the newer Office 365, Microsoft’s Cloud-based answer to Google Apps, exceeds $1B per year.  (For details, please see the April 19, 2013Forbes article athttp://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2013/04/19/microsoft-shakes-off-pc-slump-as-office-and-servers-sales-swell/.)

Microsoft continues to focus on Office 365; pricing now starts at $96 per year, new features have been added, and partners can sell this service directly to users.

Although Microsoft productivity applications dominate on the desktop, Google Apps is a serious contender to Office 2013 and Office 365 with an estimated 33% to 50% share of Cloud-based productivity apps.  The primary difference: Google Apps was Cloud-based from the start; it doesn’t have all of the features of Microsoft Office, but is relevant on more platforms, is free to consumers, and costs just $50 per

year for users of Google Apps for Business.

So, Google Apps plays well in a heterogeneous, consumer/small-business world.  Also, Google has moved its popular Postini anti-spam service into Google Apps, a move that has angered and confused many of its (former) Postini clients, but one that makes sense from the perspective of beefing up Google Apps for Business to battle against Office 365.

For details, please see the 4/23/2013 article by Kurt Mackie of Redmond Magazineat http://redmondmag.com/articles/2013/04/23/gains-for-google-in-cloud-office.aspx?sc_lang=en.  To compare Office 365 to Google Apps, please visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBtYFM6Zy0o

Winner (by a strong, but potentially diminishing margin) is Microsoft; Microsoft dominates the desktop, but mobile users are changing the landscape.

Google Android versus Microsoft Windows

In terms of projected sales of mobile devices, Google’s Android (DROID) owns the market at 79% while Microsoft Windows is at just 3.3%.  However, if you include desktop computers, a declining market, Windows is still prevalent across organizations throughout the world.

Google introduced Android in 2007; it is a Linux-based, open-source operating system designed for touchscreen devices.  Its strength is its robustness and ease-of-use, which led to a brisk rate of adoption by users and application developers.

Windows 8 was introduced in October of 2012.  It was designed to be compatible with its predecessors (Windows XP and Windows 7) while introducing a touch-enabled, tile-based, user interface that has been more frustrating than enabling.  To date, it has failed to meet even modest expectations.  (Windows 8.1, a free, significant upgrade to Windows 8, will release on October 17th with the hope of changing this trend.)

Currently a draw if you include both mobile devices and desktop computers:  Microsoft owns the desktop while Google owns mobile devices; Windows 8.1 provides hope, but might be too little too late to penetrate the mobility market.

If nothing else, expect prices to decrease as the competition heats up.

Microsoft Office 365 versus Microsoft Office 2013

Microsoft has been promoting its Cloud-based Office 365, which was introduced in mid-2012.  It recently released Office 2013; a familiar collection of Cloud-enabled, desktop-computer-based applications: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, etc.

Microsoft Office 2013

Microsoft Office was first introduced in 1985 on the Macintosh; it moved to the PC in 1990 as Office 1.0, which combined Word 1.1, Excel 2.0, and PowerPoint 2.0 in a “suite” that launched Microsoft’s subsequent success.  (At the time, Lotus 123 was the dominant spreadsheet and WordPerfect the dominant word-processor; both companies are no longer independent and are mere shells of their former selves.)

Office 2013 is the latest version of the traditional Microsoft Office suite.  It comes in several, perpetual-license formats:

  • OEM – Least-expensive, non-transferrable and sold only with a new computer
  • Retail – Boxed product that can be transferred from one PC to another
  • Open License – License-only version that can be transferred

The primary applications of Office 2013 that are included in all versions:

  • Word – Create documents
  • Excel – Build and analyze spreadsheet data
  • PowerPoint – Design and deliver presentations
  • Outlook – Manage emails, schedules, contacts

Advanced-level versions of Office 2013 also have:

  • OneNote – Take notes in your digital notebook
  • Publisher – Create professional publications
  • InfoPath – Design electronic forms
  • Access – Manage data

Two other applications associated with Office 2013, but purchased separately:

  • Visio – Develop professional diagrams (flow-charts, org charts, etc.)
  • Project – Manage a portfolio of projects

Microsoft Office 365

Office 365 is a collection of three primary, online, Microsoft-hosted services:

  • Exchange Online – Email, contacts, calendar
  • SharePoint Online – Document sharing, storage, and collaboration
  • Lync Online – Messaging with multi-party video conferencing

These online services integrate with Office 2013, but are not part of Office 2013.

Office 365 can be licensed in several formats for organizations:

  • Office 365 Small Business – $6 to $12.50/user per month based on options
  • Office 365 Medium Business – $180/user per year ($15/month)
  • Office 365 Enterprise – $8 to $22/user per month based on options

The more-expensive versions of Office 365 include a non-perpetual subscription to Office 2013.  Charitable and government organizations receive special pricing.

Overlap and differences between Office 2013 and Office 365

Office 2013 and Office 365 overlap in that some Office 365 versions include a subscription to Office 2013. Also, Office 2013 was designed to work with Office 365.

Differences include:

  • Only Office 365 includes Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Lync Online; Office 2013 includes only the desktop applications mentioned above.
  • Office 365 is rented under a subscription-based offering; you pay per user.
  • Office 2013 can be rented, but is also available as a perpetual license; you purchase it one-time and own it under the terms of the license agreement.

Special note:  You can purchase Office 2013 outright (through one of the perpetual-licensing models) and then use it with your Office 365 subscription.

References

Please visit http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/ for details on Microsoft Office 365 and Office 2013.

Related articles:

Preview into Microsoft Office 2013

In addition to Windows 8, I have also been using Office 2013 over the past few months; I like some things, but not everything:
• Excel updates ripple slowly down the page; they seemed to run a bit faster in previous versions.
• The top-right Window icons have shifted somewhat; the Minimize icon ( _ ) is now in the middle rather than on the left while the Help icon is now on the left.
Since I rarely use the Help icon, but occasionally use the Minimize icon, I dislike this change

Booting Windows 8 into Safe Mode

Safe Mode is useful for diagnosing PC problems. Because Windows 8 starts quickly, you cannot get into Safe Mode by pressing [F8] during the boot-up process (as you could with previous versions of Windows). The new procedure:

  • Go to Settings and then select Power
  • Hold [Shift] and then press Restart to open System Recovery Options
  • Select Troubleshoot from System Recovery Options
  • Select Advanced options
  • Select Startup Settings
  • Enable Safe Mode

Microsoft’s new (old) SharePoint

Microsoft SharePoint, currently version 2013, has been around since 2001; it is a document-management/collaboration and web-application tool designed to store, share, and synchronize important content.  It is closely aligned with the Microsoft Office suite and SharePoint Online is a component of Microsoft Office 365.

 

SharePoint Foundation (formerly known as SharePoint Services) is included within Windows Server; it is an entry-level freebie suitable for internal use.  SharePoint Server 2013, the full-blown product, can be purchased separately and should be deployed on its own Windows-based server (or virtual server).

Deployments have been brisk; to date, millions of SharePoint-based sites, both SharePoint Foundation and SharePoint Server, have been launched. 

 

Large and medium-sized organizations deploy SharePoint Server to provide both internal and external collaboration.  Including SharePoint Server within Microsoft Office 365 has put it within the financial reach of smaller organizations.

 

Primary SharePoint components and their function:

  • Site – A collection of work-related content (documents, images, etc.)
  • List – A collection of pieces of information, usually with the same properties
  • Library – A governed list of documents, pictures, etc. stored in SharePoint
  • Page – Location to upload/download content:  Wiki, Web-Part, or Publishing
  • Community – A unit for collaboration and communication
  • Composite – Integrated collections of data, documents, and processes

 

Although SharePoint is easier to use than ever, it is a large, complex environment that should be approached with some experience and a well-defined plan.

 

ComputerWorld  has the article SharePoint 2010 Cheat Sheet by Jonathan Hassell.  (SharePoint Server 2013 came out about a week after his article released in December of 2012.)

System Builders Await Surface’s Impact

Gavin Livingstone, President of Bryley Systems, talks to Channel Pro Networkabout Microsoft’s Surface tablet.  Read the full article System Builders Await Surface’s Impact

image

Garin Livingstone Passes his Windows 7 Exam!

Congrats Garin Livingstone, Bryley Systems Senior Tech, for successfully completing and passing your Windows 7 configuring class and test!!! image

Windows Server options

Microsoft Windows Server 2012 will be released September 4th.  Microsoft streamlined server-edition options to four and discontinued Home Server, Small Business Server, and Enterprise Edition.

 

Windows Server 2012 editions:

  • Foundation – Up to 15 users; OEM-only, so purchased with hardware
  • Essentials – Up to 25 users with cloud-enablement features
  • Standard – Unlimited users; includes two virtual instances
  • Data Center – Unlimited users and virtual instances

 

Server discontinuations:

  • Windows Small Business Server (SBS) 2011 will be discontinued on June 30, 2013.  To get SBS functionality, you will need to purchase Windows Server and Exchange Server separately.  (Software Assurance, Microsoft’s maintenance option, for SBS has been discontinued as of July 31, 2012.)
  • Windows Enterprise Server has been discontinued
  • Windows Home Server has been discontinued

 

Specific editions with pricing are noted atWindows Server 2012 Editions.