Not all hard drives are equal. Some of you still have mechanical hard drives and most of you now have solid-state hard drives (SSDs). The technologies are different, but you can manage your hard drive successfully if you have the right cloud-based backup and storage plan.Continue reading
Supply chain issues for some items are easing up, but other technologies are still subject to delays. Here’s the latest.Continue reading
If you’re wondering why it’s taking longer to deliver and install new computers, it’s because there’s a shortage of Intel chips. Intel has placed the blame on several factors, including a slower demand in China. According to reports, Intel can also cite sales to cloud customers, a weakening NAND flash market and weaker modem demand.
Some observers contend the shortage will worsen this spring, a traditionally high season for entry-level computers such as Chromebooks. Others say Intel simply didn’t anticipate the demand and didn’t put in enough manufacturing capacity to handle the volume. With priority going to data centers (the cloud), that means there are fewer chips available for PCs and laptops. PC processors are reportedly last on the company’s priority list.
As for us, we’ve seen a drastic increase in the lead time for new computers. We used to be able to get them in a day or two. In one instance, an order placed in January arrived at the end of March. One of the computer manufacturers affected by the shortage is Dell, one of our favorites for Windows-based units. Dell prefers Intel chips, and so do we. Dell said earlier this year it might look for other sources, but as it stands, we’re stuck for the moment. We don’t expect the situation to improve until the second half of 2019 – and nobody’s making sure-fire predictions.
Some industry sources predict the shortage will ease by the summer because the large data-center customers have made their required purchases. But with expected Chromebook sales still to be made, others are predicting the shortages will extend well into the summer and maybe beyond. The shortage may worsen before it gets better – because of the Chromebooks. We’ve seen reports that Intel will ramp up production facilities in Ireland and Israel, increasing capacity by 25 percent.
What can we do in the meantime to minimize the effects of the Intel shortage?
If you’re looking at new computers to improve business efficiencies, we can look at upgrading the efficiencies of other equipment, such as routers, servers and peripherals. Those are improvements you are likely to make down the road, anyway, so it could mean you’ll have a two-stage process. The computers will come later. We can also fine-tune your software and make sure that all your operating system and app software is up to date and in sync with your computers’ capabilities.
If you’re still using the Windows 7 operating system and planning to purchase new computers to work with Windows 10, we can place your orders now. Even though your new systems may be backlogged, they will be in the pipeline, and you should be able to plan your migration to your new systems before next February, when Microsoft ends its Windows 7 support.
We can also consider alternatives, such as computers with chips from other manufacturers. However, we urge you to consider the long-term effects of any alternative you select to solve a short-term problem.
If you are planning on buying new computers, let’s talk about your needs and explore possible solutions in light of the Intel chip shortage. Good planning can help you mitigate the effects of the current market conditions. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to set up an appointment.
New technology is a great value. You can improve the performance and cost-efficiency of business and home systems by investing in new hardware and upgrading application software. Consider some of these upgrades.
December is always a good time for businesses to look at technology investments because it can affect your taxes. Your CPA or tax advisor can tell whether a year-end expense can help reduce your taxes while increasing your capabilities, and we can tell what might work best for you to make those capability increases a reality.
First, look at your operating system. If you are on Windows 7, remember that Microsoft’s support of this ancient OS will go away in a year. They’ll no longer provide security updates and bug fixes. Cybercriminals salivate when they see any outmoded system because they can likely pull a hacking technique off the shelf and get into your system.
Yes, there will be some workarounds for you to continue to use Windows 7, but why do it? Windows 10 is much more efficient and secure, and Microsoft is dedicated to supporting it. Most common business apps running Windows 7 are easily upgradeable to run on Windows 10. If you have customized software from a publisher that’s still supporting it, they should be able to help with a conversion to the newer OS. If not, you may want to move to a new app, especially for the security aspects.
You should also look at your hard drives for business and home computers. Solid state drives (SSDs) have come way down in price this year, and while they’re not necessarily Walmart specials, they are good values.
SSDs are faster and more reliable than mechanical hard drives. The mechanical drives have moving parts that can wear out and crash, putting your data in jeopardy. They also require more space to move files around, and as they become fuller, they are less efficient. SSDs have no moving parts and don’t physically move around files. That makes them immune from physical crashes, and you only need a drive half the size to hold the same amount of data.
Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us with questions about technology upgrades or to help you install new technology. You can hit the ground running in 2019 or get up to speed early on in the new year.
Windows 7 is still a viable operating system for many businesses, but as more users and software application publishers migrate to Windows 10, using the older system can be very painful. Managing that pain isn’t easy, especially when you have a large, highly customized application package that simply can’t be upgraded to work with Windows 10.
The problem comes when you need to reinstall your Windows 7 operating system. There is just no easy way for this OS, which is 11 years old. In technology terms, that’s more than just a ripe old age. In real-time terms, that old age creates a lot of problems.
The re-installation problem requires you to follow these steps:
- Install Windows 7 using your valid installation disk. That’s pretty easy, but don’t get overconfident.
- The installation process will ask – really, require – you to download and install Service Pack 1. It’s the only service pack that Windows ever issued for Windows 7. Nor has Microsoft ever released a “roll-up,” which would be a compilation of all updates since Service Pack 1.
- So, after you have downloaded and installed Service Pack 1, you’ll need to run Windows Update to get all the critical security upgrades and patches.
Windows Update has more than 200 important updates. You need to start the sequence, and then, you need to pay attention. There are numerous points along the way where you need to reboot your computer to complete the installation of an update. Then, you need to continue Windows Update.
We have reinstalled Windows 7, and it has taken us two to three hours with a fast Internet connection. If you have a slow connection, it can be like riding a bicycle on the New Jersey Turnpike.
If a re-installation is something you must do, we can walk you through the steps. However, you must be asking why all of your application software can’t just run on Windows 10?
For highly customized software, such as a Sage accounting program that one of our clients uses, there is a compatibility issue as well as a financial consideration. Windows 10 has a number of security features that will not work with a Windows 7-based application program. They are not issues you can solve simply by not using all the features. The application software must be compatible with the OS. The financial consideration is that an upgrade to the accounting package would be $15,000. The cost of the time to reinstall Windows 7 is nowhere near that, and that’s probably the pain-management equivalent of taking aspirin until the pain goes away.
If you are fortunate to have some planning time, you can manage the pain more effectively by talking with the app publisher about updates. Those are always difficult for the app publisher because customized programs take a lot more of their time. They need to write the upgrades into their basic package and then to several steps farther to add your customization. Customized software packages have a lot of moving parts.
Some other factors to consider as you migrate is how much you need to keep everyone together. If you have a senior executive moving to Windows 10 ahead of most of the people in the department, how will that affect everyone’s ability to use the same applications. Windows 10 and Windows 7 versions may be quite different.
In addition to the application aspects of the software, will there be major security gaps between the older and newer versions? As we are harping, security is extremely critical in today’s business-computing world. When you leave certain doors open to get the work done, you may leave an opening for an outsider to come in and compromise your system’s integrity.
If you see your business coming to a crossroads, contact us as early as possible by email or telephone – 973-433-6676. The more time we have to look at your options, the better your probability of having the best possible outcome in managing the pain of transitioning your OS and application software to a more stable, efficient and secure system.
The date we’ve been waiting for is out there. Microsoft will make Windows 10 available for laptops, desktops and Windows tablets July 29, and it can’t come a day too soon as far as we’re concerned. Yes, it will be free – if you download within a year of its release. Don’t wait. Here’s why you should migrate to Windows 10 ASAP.
Freebie – Well, it’s a freebie for life if you install it within a year. You know our feelings about freebies: they always come with strings attached. The “free” upgrade is for customers running Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 running Home, Home Premium and Pro versions. And while it will be free for life, early reports indicate that not all the features will be available July 29. Neither will Edge, the new browser that replaces Internet Explorer, nor Windows phone be available. If you have a really old version of Windows, such as Vista, XP or even RT, you’ll have to pony up the money. Speculation is up to $199 for Windows 10 Pro. Enterprise users will be charged for an on-going service, and that’s where Windows will ultimately head with everyone. As we’ve discussed before, software as a service with automatic updates is a good thing.
Easy Transition – Unlike most migrations to a new operating system, you’ll be able to retain all of your data, drivers and settings if you are using Windows 7 or 8. Microsoft used the analogy of the egg and the yolk, calling your data, drivers and settings the egg and your operating system the yolk. The egg stays while the yolk changes. Let’s hope it’s more like “eggs easy over” and nothing gets scrambled. Once you make the transition, you’ll have 30 days to get used to everything and decide if you want to keep it. We fully expect you’ll make that decision pretty quickly. If you find you don’t like Windows 10, you can revert back to your older operating system with a simple click. To further ease your mind, Microsoft will continue to support Windows 7 until Jan. 14, 2020 – almost five years from now – and support Windows 8 until Jan. 10, 2023.
Return of the Start Button – The Start Button is back, and that might be reason enough by itself to migrate from Windows 8 or 8.1. The big advantage for many users is that it will restore a well-known way to navigate through various application programs. However, it will retain some of the visual cues from Windows 8, and those will be resizable to help you find and launch your key apps quickly and easily. Along with the Start Button, there are also reminders when you install new apps and an alphabetical grid when you click on a heading letter.
New Browser – The Edge will replace Internet Explorer. Names aside, the new browser will load pages faster and display some useful information, such as weather forecasts, in a pop-up menu below the toolbar. Edge will also feature a predictive search engine, which could come in especially handy on a mobile device if you’re looking for a restaurant or a store. This could also be a good salvo against Google for getting more search (and advertising) traffic.
Cortana – This is Microsoft’s personal digital assistant. It will differ from Siri or Google Now by giving you the ability to conduct a single search across your hard drive, as well as the cloud and the web, bundling the results into a single pop-up menu.
Apps – We talked about a photo-editing app in our initial evaluation of an earlier version (build, as we say in the tech biz) of Windows 10, and you should find a lot to like with various apps. The new Photos app will scan your devices and OneDrive account for photos, arrange them into a giant collection and automatically enhance them, such as fixing red-eye. Microsoft will use a unified code for its apps that should work across desktops, tablets and smartphones. A new code base makes it easier for iPhone and Android developers to make their apps work with Windows.
With more than six weeks until Windows 10’s release, you have plenty of time to prepare for the migration. Windows 7 users must be running Service Pack 1 to enable the update, and Windows 8 users must have upgraded to the latest version of Windows 8.1. Your computer should have these minimum system requirements:
- Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor or SoC
- RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) for a 32-bit version, or 2GB for 64-bit
- Hard disk space: 16GB for a 32-bit OS; 20GB for 64-bit OS
- Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
- Display: 1024×600
You’ll also need to enable your Windows 10 reservation. Look for the tiny Windows icon down in the right corner of your taskbar, and click it to launch the Windows 10 reservation app. However, even if your PC seemingly meets those specifications, it might not be upgraded. Use the “check my PC” function within the reservation app.
If you are cleared for takeoff, the process could take 20 minutes to 3 hours, depending on your computer’s age and networking setup – among other things. It goes without saying that even though the upgrade is expected to be a proverbial “piece of cake,” you should have all of your important files backed up before you start the process.
We can help you make sure your computers are ready for the Windows 10 upgrade. If your computers don’t qualify for the upgrade, we can help you purchase and install the software. If you are an enterprise user, we can help you migrate to the new Windows 10 service. Call us – 973-433-6646 – or email us with any questions you may have about making Windows 10 work for you.
Microsoft plans to introduce Windows 10 during the second half of the year – and it’s offering free upgrades for Windows 7 and 8. Free? Well, sort of.
Although nothing is set in cyberstone, early indications are that Microsoft will provide a free upgrade for qualified customers for a year. After that, you may have an option to continue with whatever version you downloaded; buy a copy or sign up for a subscription.
That last possibility may be the way Microsoft will go. The company has been pushing subscription-based software for a long time – at least as far as time is measured in technology – and it seems to be successful. Office 365 is a major part of their business, and when it’s time to upgrade software, Microsoft upgrades Office 365 first.
We like Office 365, and our customers who have subscribed like it. We know email will always work, and we know that all the performance and security updates will be installed. If Windows 10 follows the Office 365 model, we believe it will be a great product, especially for homes, home offices and small businesses.
The upgrade offer will likely apply to Windows-based computers and devices, and that makes sense for Microsoft as the company tries to expand and strengthen its customer base through integration. The company believes that as customers start to learn better how the software works, they will grow to appreciate (or become dependent upon) the innovations and will pay to stay on board with the most up-to-date software available.
So, who may be left out of the free offer? Enterprise users will not qualify for the free upgrade. In not so many words, Microsoft notes that enterprise customers are already on subscription for the service and that they will see the value of maintaining Microsoft across all of their platforms.
Many anti-virus programs and other applications are already available through subscription, and we advise you to take advantage of the benefits. In almost all cases, the subscription works out to be less expensive when you factor in all the benefits of performance and security – especially as hacking becomes more prevalent.
Now would be a good time to start assessing how you can take advantage of Windows 10. Most of the systems on Windows 7 and all of the systems on Windows 8 or 8.1 should be able to migrate to the new OS. We can help you evaluate your current system and see how it can meet your ongoing needs over the next 6 to 24 months. That can help you budget for seamlessly moving forward with your technology. Call us at 973-433-6676 or email us to set up an appointment.
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.
Did you just install Windows 8.1 on your computer and think you are set? Think again. You need to install Update 1 (like a Service Pack update) Windows 8.1 today in order to get all service updates for that version of the Windows operating system. Here’s why it’s important to act now.
Windows 8.1 Update is a cumulative update to Windows 8.1, containing all the updates Microsoft has released for Windows 8.1. This means that if you install this update, you will not need any earlier updates. And that’s a good thing – because there won’t be any more updates for 8.1 unless you have Update 1. More important, Update 1 is the new servicing baseline for Windows 8.1, which means that May’s security updates and all future updates will be dependent on Windows 8.1 Update.
Today, May 13, Microsoft will issue security patches that detail flaws they are fixing and those flaws will be left unpatched for all Windows 8.1 users until you install Update 1. If you stay with Windows 8.1 and don’t install Update 1, you will face the same problem as Windows XP after Microsoft cut off security updates last month. This is nothing new. Major updates to previous editions of Windows (“Service Packs”) also had “cut-off” dates for users to apply updates. But the XP cutoff came after 13 years, not after just eight months.
Once you install Update 1, you’ll be fine. In fact, you’ll be able to take advantage of some features that should have been in Windows 8 all along.
If you don’t have a touchscreen, Update 1 intelligently goes to the desktop by default on startup or reboot and uses desktop apps by default. It also reduces the sensitivity of hot corners, highlights newly installed apps and dramatically improves the Modern UI for keyboard and mouse users. It also cuts its install size in half (from 32GB to 16GB) on SSDs, runs faster on slower hardware and drops minimum memory requirements from 2GB to 1GB of RAM.
While the results are better, we still believe it changed too much too quickly for businesses with users accustomed to using a keyboard and mouse. The update won’t solve all of our issues, but it will help make them more manageable.
Regardless of your OS, it’s important to keep the software up to date. Updates maintain protection against malware and hackers and help keep your system at peak performance. Having all your software up to date also makes it easier and faster to install new programs and equipment.
We do have some cautions about updates. Make sure you get them from the software publisher to ensure you’re getting the genuine product. Also, don’t click on “extra products,” such as other browsers that you may accidentally set as your default or that may reset your search-engine preference.
If you have any questions about the Windows 8.1 Update 1 or any other updates, contact us right away for help – [email protected] or 973-433-6676. Keeping your OS and other software up to date aids security and keeps your IT system running more smoothly.
It’s one thing to measure a lifespan in dog years. It’s another to measure it in technology years. If a 12-year-old dog is like an 84-year-old-person, then a 12-year-year-old operating system is truly older than dirt. Here’s a look at XP’s timeline.
Most of you will remember Sept. 11, 2001 forever. As grave as that day was, six weeks later, Microsoft issued the XP operating system. We can all remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news of the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and a field in western Pennsylvania.
Do you remember what technology you were using at the time?
You are likely reading this article on the Internet, which you reached either by a Wi-Fi connection to a high-speed, broadband network or by a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet.
In 2001, the Internet was nothing like it is today. You probably accessed it through a dial-up modem as a customer of AOL, CompuServe or a local provider. DSL service was in its infancy, usually only available to phone carrier customers who lived less than two miles from a switching facility. Internet access by cable TV companies was also in its infancy.
While both industries could offer Internet access, you still used the phone company for telephone service and the cable company for TV. Today, either company can provide Internet, TV and phone service with speeds and capabilities only imagined by a few scientists. And more people are using the Internet to bypass those companies for all of their services.
Think about your smartphones and tablets. Cell phones in 2001 were clunky devices that you could only use for talking. And, it didn’t take too much mobility to be outside your service area and racking up roaming charges. Your phone? It could have been a Nokia. That was the leading manufacturer in 2001.
Today, more and more people have no landlines in their homes, and many business people on the road use cellphones as their primary phones. And the cellphone itself? In addition to being a telephone, it keeps calendars and contacts and provides access to email and the Internet.
If you have a tablet, can you imagine life without it?
Some people thought X-10 was a cool way to control the lights in their houses from their desktop computer. Now, you can control lights, appliances and door locks – and answer your doorbell – with a mobile device.
Video conferencing through Skype or any number products may have done more than any technology to shrink the world.
All of this change happened since 2001, during the life of XP. Our technology has advanced by leaps and bounds. XP really did withstand the challenges of its time and more. But when you look at everything you want to do with computers and devices, your needs have outgrown the capabilities of a technology that dates back more than 12 years.
If you still have XP, you had a good run. Now, it’s time to catch up. We’re available to help you. Just call us (973-433-6676) or email us.