Is Your Business Ready for the New Microsoft?

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Amidst all the press about the iPhone 5 there’s also been a few announcements from that other tech giant, Microsoft. We know a lot of our clients depend on Microsoft and Windows-based systems, so we thought we’d outline what to expect in the latter part of this year.

Going Online

If your office uses Windows, your computers came with the Internet Explorer (IE) browser already installed. The newest version of that browser, IE 10, will release in about a month (October 26). Google recently announced it will stop supporting IE 8 for Gmail and Google Docs on November 15, which means that users still running Windows XP will need to either upgrade their operating system in order to get Windows 10 or switch to a different browser. We highly encourage any businesses still using XP to upgrade, not just because of application compatibility issues but also from a security standpoint.

later update: This morning a security alert was issued for IE 6, 7, 8, and 9. Until this problem is fixed, experts recommend using IE 10 or an alternative browser.

Documents, Documents, Documents

There are two versions of Microsoft Office in the works: the new Office 365 (a cloud-based subscription service) and Office 2013, a new iteration of the traditional standalone suite of applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc). Demos of these programs have been available over at Mirosoft’s website since July. Microsoft just announced the pricing plan for these new Office options:

  • Office 365 Small Business: $12.50 per user monthly / $149.99 annually
  • Office 2013: $219.99 per install

The Office 365 subscription includes access to cloud storage and allows up to five different devices simultaneously. No word yet on the official release date.

The Whole Enchilada

All of these updates are just part of the upgrades Microsoft is making to make use of its newest flagship operating system, Windows 8. Previewed last June, Windows 8 moves the operating system into a format that is designed to work across a wide range of devices, from laptops to phones to tablets. Instead of the traditional start menu and desktop icons, Windows 8 will feature a start screen with tiles that allows access to apps (from a full-fledged Windows 8 App Store) via click or touch. A Preview is available for download over at the Microsoft website. Windows 8 is set to go on sale October 26.

Beyond the Desktop

Microsoft announced back in August that it would jump into the tablet market with its new product, the Surface. The tabled surfaced (groan) back in June with a big surprise announcement. Since then details beyond the technical specs have been sparse, though Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer hinted at a price between $300 and $700 in an interview over the weekend. You can see the latest over at the Microsoft website. Finally, if you’re excited to get your hands on a new Microsoft phone with Windows 8, you can check this site to see the latest models being developed by Nokia, Samsung, and other major brands.

Any Questions?

You’re probably wondering what you should purchase or do to get ready for all of these changes. PC World has a great article up about making smart hardware purchases that are “future proof,” at least as far as that as possible for Windows 8. Microsoft’s already announced there are upgrade options for users with existing software, and remember: Windows 7 will still be supported by Microsoft for the foreseeable future.

If you have specific questions about how to get your business ready for Windows 8 or any other Microsoft update, we’d be happy to discuss your options. Just call (919-676-8300) or email to get the conversation started.