Microsoft

microsoft

Originally posted by Mary Jo Foley for All About Microsoft on ZDNet

Microsoft is kicking off the rollout of Office 2016 for Windows on September 22, and is adding a new branch updating scheme, similar to the one available for Windows 10.

It's not a big surprise given recent leaks, but Microsoft officials are confirming that the Office 2016 for Windows rollout will begin on September 22.

September 22 is the date when the next version of Office for Windows desktops will be generally available. Office 365 Personal and Home users will be able to start manually installing Office 2016 apps for Windows on September 22 from Office.com. Microsoft will begin pushing out the new Office 2016 apps via automatic updates in October 2015. Those with volume-licensing contracts will be able to download Office 2016 starting October 1 from the Volume Licensing Centre.

Office 2016 for Windows desktops is the full-featured set of Office apps and the successor to Office 2013. Microsoft released an IT/pro preview of Office 2016 for Windows in March and a public preview in May 2015. The new Office suite runs on Windows 7, 8 and 10 PCs, laptops and tablets.

As part of the rollout, Microsoft is making some changes to the Office update model.

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Those with Office 365 ProPlus subscriptions will be able to continue getting monthly feature and security updates. Taking a page from the Windows 10 playbook, Microsoft is calling this monthly updated release the "Current Branch." The next Current Branch release will be September 22 and will include all the new Office 2016 app updates, according to a September 10 blog post explaining Microsoft's rollout plans.

There also will be a new Office 365 Pro Plus Current Branch for Business updating option. This is for business customers and IT pros who may prefer to wait a few months before rolling out new versions or updates to Office for testing purposes.

Similar to Microsoft's new Current Branch for Business updating path for Windows, the Office Current Branch for Business will provide users with "three cumulative feature updates per year," plus monthly security updates, officials said. That means the next Current Branch for Business build of Office 2016 -- which will include the same feature set as the September 22 release, plus four additional months of security updates -- will be out in February 2016, according to today's blog post.

There are relatively few new features in Office 2016 for Windows. Data loss prevention comes to the Office apps with this release. There also are additional document co-authoring capabilities, new "Tell Me" navigation support, integration with Power BI, and more lockdown/rights management capabilities in the new version of Office for Windows.

Microsoft made the Mac version of Office 2016 available to Office 365 subscribers in July. Later this month, Microsoft plans to offer Office 2016 for Mac available to those who prefer to buy a single copy outright.

Microsoft delivers first public preview of Office 2016 for Mac

Microsoft delivers first public preview of Office 2016 for MacMicrosoft has released the first public preview of Office 2016 for Mac, its updated Office suite for Mac OS 10.10 users, which is due out this summer.

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Update: A few more reader questions and answers about Office 2016 for Windows' coming rollout (delivered via a Microsoft spokesperson):

Q: Will Office 365 Business Premium -- and not just Office 365 users with ProPlus -- automatically get these updates and be serviced via branches?

A: Yes, Business customers will also receive the 2016 apps and will default to the Current Branch. Business Premium customers can choose to move to the Current Branch for Business if they choose to at any time, once available.

Q: Is there going to be an equivalent to Windows 10's Long Term Servicing branch for O365 users who don't ever want to see new features between Office releases?

A: We recommend using the Office 2016 Volume Licensing (MSI) version for customers who want to have Office installed on specialty systems that do not require feature update but can continue to get security update and bug fixes.

Q: If you are an O365 Pro Plus subscriber right now, are you already getting three buckets of updates to the Office apps annually?

A: Current Office 365 ProPlus customers are on the Current Branch today. We will, however, move all ProPlus customers to the thrice-yearly update schedule by moving them to the Current Branch for Business. Customers can choose to remain on the current branch. All updates are delivered via the Office CDN or deployed via the organization's administrator (not Windows Update).

Q: If you are on Current Branch Office 365, are the thrice-yearly updates forced/mandatory -- the way Current Branch updates are on Windows 10?

A: Current Branch can contain feature, security and non-security fixes on a monthly basis. Customers have a choice to stay on a build as long as they choose to but we recommend they update to the latest version in order to take advantage of any new feature and security fixes.

Q: Can those running Office 2016 for Windows preview upgrade directly to RTM version?

A: It depends on how a customer has accessed the Office 2016 Preview.

Commercial Office 365 customers who have accessed the Office 2016 Preview through the First Release program will continue to get the latest updates across their Office 365 workloads, including Office client. If they would like to revert to the production release of Office 2016 when it becomes available, they can uninstall the Office 2016 Preview from programs and features and download the production version of Office 2016 from their My Software page.

Office 2016 Preview for IT Pros and Developers will continue to get the latest updates across their Office 365 workloads, including Office client. If they would like to revert to the production release of Office 2016 when it becomes available, they can uninstall the Office 2016 Preview from programs and features and download the production version of Office 2016 from their My Software page.

Office 365 Consumer Subscribers: If a customer joined the Office 2016 Preview through their Office 365 My Accounts page, they can simply uninstall the Office 2016 Preview from Windows Programs and Features and install the production release of Office 2016 from their My Accounts page. Office 2016 Preview (no Office 365 subscription):

The Office 2016 Preview will expire at Fall 2015 and will enter a reduced functionality mode. Customers will have the option to convert to a paid Office 365 subscription or they may choose uninstall the Office 2016 Preview from Windows and re-install any licensed version of Office that they have.

 

BD Banner for blogOriginally published by Bitdefender

I came across an interesting article reported by The Register. In a survey, half of companies will still have Windows Server 2003 somewhere in their environment after the support cut-off date of July 14th passes. While purchasing a custom support agreement with Microsoft is an option, it’s one that will quickly get quite expensive ($600 per server per year, doubling each year).

An often complicated, and critical, application, is the endpoint security management suite. Traditional management relied on applications installed on Windows servers, most often leveraging a SQL database running on other servers. This very quickly creates a series of dependencies. Does the security management support a newer Windows version? If so, which databases does it support, and which Windows versions do those supported databases run on? If the management application uses a web server, which versions, and on which operating systems are those supported? How does the migration work, is there downtime, is the data migrated, can it be done in stages, or is it a forklift upgrade.

Much of this complexity can be avoided. Of course, custom-built, in-house applications are still tricky, but off-the-shelf solutions should be very simple, including endpoint security management.

For example, GravityZone can be delivered in two ways that avoid this complexity. The most straightforward is a GravityZone management console hosted by Bitdefender or a partner. In that case, the organization leveraging GravityZone never has to deal with any complexity underlying the management application.

The second option is hosting GravityZone on-premise. In this case, complexity is minimized because GravityZone operates as a self-contained private cloud. The deployment consists of a Linux-based virtual appliance. Multiple instances can be deployed, each playing one or more roles. The roles encompass all required functionality, including the database (often the source of most upgrade woes).

In this way, complexity of GravityZone is not exposed. Bitdefender builds and tests the virtual appliance, while the customer simply updates it. Everything from the web server to database is contained in the virtual appliance.

While adopting an endpoint security management solution that lowers operating system upgrade complexity won’t solve all of your problems, it certainly takes quite a bit of complexity – and therefore risk – off the table for a critical part of your environment. If you’re struggling to move your current solution off of Windows 2003, consider the advantages of a self-contained, flexible, and scalable solution like GravityZone, because it’s only a matter of time before you’ll begin the next round of operating system upgrades!

Want to know more about Bitdefender solutions? Contact our sales team today at 0118 9898 222 and they'll help with your queries or arrange a free trial.

 

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What is your plan to stay protected?

In December of 2012, Microsoft announced changes to the roadmaps of some of its security solutions. Those changes included an announcement of the end of life for Forefront Protection 2010 for Exchange Server (FPE). Microsoft stopped offering the FPE product in 2012, but committed to supporting FPE subscriptions through December 31, 2015. Subscriptions expiring before December 31, 2015 will not be renewed. That means virus updates and signatures will not be made available after this date and the service will end. Are you ready?

AppRiver SecureTide as an alternative to Forefront

We recommend every company currently using Forefront on an Exchange server to review their licenses to find out when they expire. Then contact our Phenomenal Care team at AppRiver and discuss SecureTide™ spam and virus filtering as an alternative solution for your company. Our team will review every case and provide multiple migration options, from buy-out programs to migration support. We will make the transition as seamless and painless as possible for your users.

Switch now to AppRiver SecureTide and benefit from:

  • Real-time protection from today's IT threats
  • Simple implementation
  • No hardware or software installation
  • Inbound and outbound email protection
  • Daily Held Spam Reports
  • Disaster email recovery service included*
  • 99-percent effectiveness in blocking spam and viruses
  • Phenomenal Care™, 24 hours a day, every day

Want to know more about AppRiver solutions? Contact our sales team today on 0118 9898 222 and they’ll help with your queries or arrange a free trial.

Need some urgent help?

In only 28 days, your current version of Windows Server 2003 will expire, meaning you will no longer receive regular system updates, security patches, or hot fixes from Microsoft; which could leave your IT infrastructure exposed to serious security threats and compliance failures. If you would like to learn more, get in touch through emailing our friendly SMB team.

It's time to say goodbye to Windows Server 2003.

Call the Blue Solutions team on 0118 9898 222 for advice and help with upgrading your systems.

windows 10

Missing out version 9, Microsoft is likely to release Windows 10 during 2015. The new operating system introduces new features to integrate desktop and mobile devices, improve web browsing and increase productivity.

The Start menu returns

The Start menu, a familiar feature of Windows, was dropped in Windows 8 but then reintroduced after customer feedback. The Start menu is also a key part of Windows 10.

Free upgrade

Microsoft will be offering a free upgrade to Windows 10 for qualified new or existing Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 devices that upgrade in the first year.

Web browsing

Internet Explorer will be replaced by a new, stripped down web browser named Spartan. Internet Explorer has developed over many years and carries a large amount of old code even in the most recent versions. Leaving that behind allows Microsoft to develop a faster, more secure browser for Windows 10.

Cortana digital assistant

Cortana is a voice activated digital assistant first seen in Windows Phone. Bringing Cortana to the desktop could make your time with Windows 10 more productive as the app can recognise your voice and then search Microsoft’s search engine Bing to provide answers. Cortana can also take notes, set reminders and launch apps.

Hololens

Hololens is a major new feature that uses a virtual reality headset to show computer generated images over your physical surroundings. Hololens will enable new applications from gaming and communication to 3D design and education.

Time to upgrade

With mainstream support now ended for Windows XP and Windows 7 an upgrade to Windows 8 or Windows 10 is required to keep your data and network secure.

Call the Blue Solutions team on 0118 9898 222 for advice and help with upgrading your systems.

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Chances are, they may not be – according to estimates, there are still millions of servers running Windows Server 2003. It was the workhorse of choice for many years, but the time has come for customers to migrate to a newer, fully supported platform. That’s where you come in. It’s a great opportunity for you to ramp up your business and support your customers through a major technology change. They’ll appreciate the help, and you’ll appreciate the way your business will grow.

Find tools to help. 

Access our extensive set of resources to learn more about:

  • Talking with your customers about the importance of migration.
  • Ways to assess a customer’s current environment by categorising applications and workloads.
  • Migration options, either in the datacenter or in the cloud.
  • How to develop a migration plan.

Visit the Windows Server 2003 end of support partner page

You’ll also find customisable ModernBiz marketing materials that highlight Windows Server 2012 R2, including partner readiness materials, pitch decks, email templates, brochures, and copy blocks. Use these to show your customers the importance of migrating from Windows Server 2003, and the migration paths that are available.

Helpful tools like the Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit which makes it easy to conduct a migration assessment for a customer's current IT infrastructure, are also available. Get started migrating your customers

Call our Sales Team today on 0118 9898 222 to upgrade to Windows Server 2012 R2.

CompTIA ImageAt the last CompTia EMEA Conference (November 2014), our Director Mark Charleton, was interviewed by Richard Tubb for his podcast: The 3 Best MSP tools from the 2014 CompTIA EMEA Conference.

It was a great opportunity for Mark to talk about AppRiver, the web and email security vendor, Office 365 and the benefits for MSPs to work with Blue Solutions. You can listen to Richard Tubb and Mark Charleton at CompTia

For anyone who wants to read a transcript of the podcast, it is also available at Richard Tubb's website.

Visit our website or contact our product specialists on 0118 9898 222 and find out about AppRiver solutions.

 

Channel partners building business around cloud-based productivity suite; Trial conversion, seat count and revenue growth see triple-digit increase

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AppRiver’s popular Microsoft Office 365 productivity suite is helping channel partners capture top-line revenue, expand their service offerings and grow their cloud businesses. Since the company introduced two-tier pricing last year, it has seen a 240 percent increase in the total number of AppRiver partners engaged to sell Office 365. Revenue growth and total number of Office 365 seats sold also grew by 330 percent.

The company has a close, long-standing relationship with Microsoft and is currently one of only a handful of Office 365 syndicated hosting partners in the world. That partnership grants immediate access to expertise, support and insight into the Microsoft product roadmap, which adds significant value to AppRiver’s own partner community.

“There is a real financial incentive for partners to include Office 365 in their product portfolio because demand is on the rise,” said Scott Paul, senior director of sales, AppRiver. “More and more businesses understand that they can move to the cloud and increase productivity for less cost, without having to give up familiar Microsoft applications.”

All Mountain Technologies (AMT) recently signed on to resell AppRiver’s Office 365 to help maximize their customers’ technology investments.

“About half of the time, customers come to AMT wanting to learn more about Office 365 and the ways it can increase business productivity and enhance bottom line,” explains Jonathan Zapp, director of sales and marketing at All Mountain Technologies. “The rest of the time, we recommend Office 365 to clients who use outdated services or hardware that’s reaching end of life.”

There are several reasons why Office 365 from AppRiver is unique:

  • True On-Demand, Pay-As-You-Go Service: Office 365 from AppRiver allows partners to own the billing process, generate additional revenue and sell/service customers in a way that makes sense for their business. The company does not require minimum packaging spends or annual commitments, thereby allowing partners to mix and match services for specific users (and adjust customer consumption or user count) without fear of penalty.
  • Maintain Renewal Margin: With AppRiver, the margins are preserved even after renewal and throughout the life of the customer relationship.
  • Account Maintenance: Partners can manage all Office 365 services from a single console to add users, manage groups and send maintenance reminders and notices. AppRiver will maintain the Microsoft Partner of Record status and will not interfere or break the record without first receiving partner consent.
  • Partner Certification: Partners can learn the ropes at AppRiver University and earn certifications in both the sale and support of Office 365 once they have demonstrated mastery of required skill sets.
  • Phenomenal Care™: High-touch customer support is available from trained employees24 hours a day, every day.

The AppRiver Phenomenal Care model has become a hallmark of the company’s success, and includes expert migration assistance to anyone who needs it. That’s important because migrations can be difficult, slow and problematic. And migrating to a new cloud email service only compounds the difficulty. Perhaps that is why Gartner recently found that organizations will likely need vendor-supplied support to resolve migration issues.

“It was difficult, and often time consuming, to work with Microsoft Support,” said Zapp. “AMT takes pride in our Always-On™ Managed Services and so it was a no-brainer to choose AppRiver for its consistently great 24/7 support. We operate in a close-knit community where word of mouth and reputation go a long way. AppRiver’s swift conflict-resolution time has actually helped to increase our bottom line because customers trust that they can leave their IT worries with us and we will work through any technical issue before it impacts business operation.”

To date, AppRiver has successfully resolved 100 percent of the customer-facing support interactions for Office 365.

To learn more about AppRiver’s Office 365 or how to become a partner, please contact our Product Specialist Nicola Boswell on 0118 9898 219.

Microsoft logo

Microsoft logo

Microsoft has started to warn users about the upcoming end of support for a number of its popular products, including Windows 7.

What does end of support really mean? When Microsoft say this, they mean there will be no more fixes or patches (paid or free, security or non-security) for specific products. So the end, really does mean the end.

Which products will be affected?

Mainstream support will end for Windows 7 (Enterprise, Home Basic, Home Premium, Ultimate and Starter editions) on 13 January 2015. Extended support for Windows 7 will last until 14 January 2020, so users will continue to receive free security updates but not feature updates.  Some industry experts are saying that Microsoft might continue with Windows 7 support, in the same way that it did with Windows XP. On that point we’ll have to wait and see…

Mainstream support will also end for the following:

  • Windows Server 2008, 2008 R2 and editions of Windows Storage Server 2008 –  ends 13 January 2015
  • Dynamics C5 2010, Nav 2009, NAV 2009 R2 – ends 13 January 2015
  • Windows Server 2003  - ends 14 July 2015
  • Office 2010 –Service Pack 1 – ends 14 October 2014
  • SharePoint 2010 with SP1 – ends 14 October 2014

What’s the Microsoft advice for customers?
Microsoft are advising “Customers should migrate to the next available Service Pack to continue receiving security updates and be eligible for other support options”.

Need more information? Visit the Microsoft support page for all of the end of support dates.