Windows of Opportunity Opening for Microsoft?

Microsoft has announced Windows 10, and it can’t be coming to a computer near you soon enough if you have Windows 8. We believe Microsoft is finally on the right track with a new operating system that creates a cohesive environment across all platforms. Here’s what you can expect.

For home users, you’ll get a lot of the look and feel of Windows XP back – along with the ability to use the tiles of Windows 8 and 8.1. You will be able to upgrade to Windows 10.

Except for one business client, who had no option but to go to Windows 8 because of poor service from a previous support provider, all of our business clients are on Windows 7 – or are surviving with XP. If XP is making your business life intolerable – or difficult – you can upgrade to Windows 7 Professional, which is the version we provide.

We don’t know at this time what upgrades Microsoft will make available for Windows 7 users. We’re hoping they’ll be liberal in their policies because we believe they damaged their reputation and because we believe there are still a lot of Microsoft users out there.

Despite all you hear and read about Apple and the Mac, Windows is still the dominant operating system, but it is a fast-changing world. A lot of what you’ll see in Windows 10 is a refined version of the attempt Microsoft made with Windows 8 to better integrate with the iPhone and iPad worlds. The touchscreen capability was a big part of that strategy, and you can expect to see that continue in Windows-based tablets and phones. We believe many laptop users will migrate toward lighter-weight tablets as they make more use of the cloud and as habits change over time.

Accounting for the timing of habit changes is one reason for Microsoft to upgrade its OS so quickly. A vast majority of business users – as well as many home users – could not easily adapt to the tiles and the lack of the “start” button in the lower left corner of the screen. Windows 10 will restore the “start” button and other familiar navigation cues, and it will help Microsoft integrate with the “swipe” capabilities of device touchscreens. A lot of PC users have iPhones and iPads, but businesses have been reluctant to change complete office systems, and home users have been cost-sensitive. The argument that Macs are virus-free has lost steam as their infection rate has increased.

However, we caution you not to expect to be up and running immediately. Microsoft still needs to work out the bugs that plague any new system. As it stabilizes, we’ll start testing it and begin to formulate our recommendations.

In the meantime, we believe the new OS will be part of other upgrades from Microsoft. These could include a new version of Office – especially Office 365, which we continue to recommend – to remain up to date with software changes and changes in the way the world does business.

We hope Microsoft will push out a new Office for the Mac world, especially with the coming of Yosemite, Apple’s new OS for the Mac. Otherwise, Mac users could migrate to Pages, Keynote and Numbers, the Mac’s version of Word, PowerPoint and Excel. We usually see leaked images of changes such as this, and the rumor mill is churning. In addition to Yosemite, we expect to see a new iPad and the official rollout of Apple Pay.

With so many changes coming and so many possibilities, it’s critical to make sure you plan your technology acquisitions with great care. We can help you plan and budget for your business and home needs and help you phase in and integrate the systems you need to make business and home life efficient. Call us at 973-433-6676 or email us for answers to your questions or to set up an appointment to discuss your needs.


New iPhone Worth the All-Nighter

As you know, we waited on line all night at our local UPS depot to claim our new iPhone 6+ at 7:30 in the morning. Now that we’ve had the chance to use our new phone, we’re happy to say it was worth the effort to get it as soon as humanly possible. Here’s our report.

We like the new phone and the new iOS 8 features, especially the My Health app. We believe it can be a life saver. When you set up the data, it asks for your date of birth, blood type and other information about your medical condition as well as people to call in the case of an emergency. Anyone can use your phone without unlocking the screen to make an emergency call on your behalf, and whoever receives the call will have all of that vital information. You’ll also have your information handy whenever you visit a healthcare provider.

We also like the iPhone 6’s capability that allows you to add widgets to your home screen, and we’re anticipating Apple Pay’s rollout.

While many people will claim that Android phones have had these new iPhone capabilities, iPhone remains the dominant device in the cellular world. Most people who traded iPhones for Android phones did so because of the screen size. Apple addressed that marketplace demand, and the company sold 10 million phones in one weekend – and that’s without the Chinese market. The new phones will be released there Oct. 17, and two million reservations were made in the first hour they were made available.

The major bug we found right away was synching the Bluetooth capability with our car. The system dropped a lot of calls, and that is a pain. We’re confident Apple will fix this problem and the others that are sure to pop up as more new iPhones are in the field.

And now for a word of caution: As we continue to make more use of smartphones and devices, we’re loading more and more sensitive information on them. It’s more important than ever to protect that data because device hacking is on the rise. Just as with your computer, if you start to see a lot of new error messages or pop-ups, it could be a sign that something is happening.

Here are some safeguards you can take for all devices and computers:

  • Be very, very careful on public Wi-Fi networks. Don’t do any online banking, for example, or any other activities that involve sensitive information with passwords.
  • Make sure firewalls are in place.
  • Download and install reputable anti-virus, malware and spyware software
  • If you have a computer on a Wi-Fi network, disconnect it from the network when you’re not using it

While we are getting into our new iPhones and all of our new connectivity possibilities, we’re still keeping any eye on the horizon for new phones from Samsung and the major Android-powered devices. And, we’re also starting to think – just a little bit – about an iPhone 7. If there’s one thing we’ve all learned about technology, it gets better and – in terms of performance for the money you spend – cheaper.

We can help you decide on your next device purchase and help you get it set up and integrated with your existing technology. We’re a phone call away at 973-433-6676, and you can email us to set up a time to talk.


Diversify Your Data Backup

Two new clients came to us after experiencing data backup failures. While no single backup solution is guaranteed to work all the time, the odds are highly against every backup system failing at the same time. The best solution, in a word, is “diversification.” If you choose carefully, you can get the right backup systems for what you need to store and save yourself some money, too.

You have many options to backup and restore pictures, videos and other types of data files, but let’s look at three broad categories: the cloud, external drives and media such as DVDs and thumb drives. If you are highly concerned about the safety and recovery of your data, you can pick a system in each category and feel confident you can always get your data. If all systems fail, chances are your data will be a minor worry.

The cloud, otherwise known as a system of large, remote and redundant servers and storage facilities, is the foundation of most data backup and recovery systems. We now work with multiple cloud-based storage and recovery providers, giving you the ability to implement a system that meets your volume, data-sensitivity and pricing parameters. Despite the iCloud invasions, cloud-based systems remain safe places for your data, and for a relatively low cost, you can rest assured you can protect your data and get files whenever and wherever you need them.

External hard drives come in a variety of sizes and speeds. Home and SOHO users can buy them in sizes from 500 GB to 3 TB and connect them through USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports for up to a few hundred dollars. You can cross the $1,000 mark and get 12-to-20 TB units, but for most of you, that’s probably overkill. If you really want to protect your data, you should consider having multiple external hard drives to cover a unit failure, and you could keep external drives at another location and swap them on a regular basis. It all depends on what’s right for you.

External hard drives are essential add-ons for data-intensive applications. A client with a video editing business found this out soon after buying a new computer and running out of space shortly thereafter. In this case, the external drive provides easily accessible storage for files of work in progress, and it gives the computer’s hard drive room to do all the manipulation required for video editng.

Mac users have access to Time Machine, the built-in backup feature of OS X that works with your Mac and an external drive (sold separately) or AirPort Time Capsule. Time Machine automatically backs up your entire Mac and remembers how your system looked on any given day. It keeps hourly backups for the past 24 hours, daily backups for the past month, and weekly backups until your backup drive is full.

Saving files to DVDs and thumb drives is inexpensive and relatively quick and easy to do. You can easily make multiple copies, and you can easily store them in multiple locations. We generally advise relying on them as a supplemental backup for important files.

Selecting your backup system or combination of systems is like buying insurance. The more you value your data, the more you’ll want to increase and diversify your backup capacity. And just as there is an insurance program that meets your economics and tolerance for risk, there’s a backup system that will work for you. Talk to us about your needs, and we’ll find the solution that best matches them. Call – 973-433-6676 – or email to start the process.