Support is ending for Windows XP and Office 2003

Keeping your technology up-to-date is good for your productivity and security—as well as your bottom line. 

Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) and Office 2003 will be reaching end of support in April 2014. We want to help you avoid the risk of running an unsupported version of Windows & Office, and to assist with your IT planning for 2012. The objective of this letter is to highlight the potential risks involved with the upcoming end of support of these products and to outline the options available to mitigate these risks.   

What is the situation and potential risk? 

Windows XP SP3 and Office 2003 will no longer be supported from April 8, 2014 onwards. After this date, Microsoft will notprovide any public support for these products, including security patches, non-security hotfixes or incident support. 

Running Windows XP SP3 and Office 2003 in your environment after their end of support date may expose your company to potential risks, such as:  

  • Security & Compliance Risks – Unsupported and unpatched environments are vulnerable to security risks. This may result in an officially recognized control failure by an internal or external audit body, leading to suspension of certifications, and/or public notification of the organization’s inability to maintain its systems and customer information. 
  • Lack of Independent Software Vendor (ISV) & Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Support – A recent industry report from Gartner Research suggests “many independent software vendors (ISVs) are unlikely to support new versions of applications on Windows XP in 2011; in 2012, it will become common”. And it may stifle access to hardware innovation: Gartner Research further notes that in 2012, most PC hardware OEMs will stop supporting Windows XP on the majority of their new PC models. See Creating a Timeline for Deploying Windows 7 and Eliminating Windows XP SP3, June 2011.

What are the available options?

  1. Upgrade – This option affords customers the best return on investment by deploying a modern PC with Windows 7 Enterprise and Office 2010. Whether you’re a small business or the largest corporation with offices worldwide, moving to a modern PC with Windows 7 Enterprise and Office 2010 offers your business the ability to improve productivity for your employees and increase operational efficiency through improved PC security and management.

    To help customers with the migration/deployment process, NUMGI offers several options including proof of concept (POC) and production pilot programs, to help you achieve a successful upgrade to Windows 7 Enterprise and Office 2010.  

  2. Purchase a Custom Support contract through Premier Support to stay on unsupported products – If, for any reason, you decide to remain on Windows XP SP3 or Office 2003 after support ends, you have the option to purchase Custom Support. As a condition of buying a Custom Support contract, you must have a Premier Support agreement and Microsoft asks that you have a migration plan in place. The cost of Custom Support is significantly higher than regular support, and rises annually due to the rising costs of supporting a legacy product. 
  3. Do nothing – Microsoft recommends customers avoid this option for it can put you at risk of potential security and compliance issues.  

Where can you find more information?

  • Full details on Microsoft product support lifecycle is available at: http://support.microsoft.com/lifecycle
  • Full details on end of support for Windows XP and Office 2003 is available at: www.microsoft.com/endofsupport 
  • Full details on Microsoft deployment guidance, training and free deployment tools for your IT Professionals at: www.microsoft.com/springboard

We can work with you to help you upgrade your PCs for today’s business environment. Contact us if you would like a personalized evaluation of your current PCs.

Use with permission from Microsoft.

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The Most Useful Keyboard Shortcuts

Not all of us are typing pros. If you’ve ever found yourself typing the same thing over and over again or feeling like there’s got to be a faster way to save or print, it’s time for keyboard shortcuts! Here are some of the most commonly used keyboard shortcuts (also known as hotkeys) that work in many programs.

Cut, Copy, and Paste

If you need to repeat something a million times—don’t type it out! Just select the text you want to copy, and hit Ctrl+C. If you want to cut it and move it somewhere else, hit Ctrl+X. To paste your selection, hit Ctrl+V.

These shortcuts are especially helpful if you typically right click on selected text to copy or cut it and then right click again to paste. You may use a program that doesn’t support the right-click option menu, but you can use shortcuts instead.

Undo Last Action

This is probably the handiest shortcut and can be a real lifesaver. Ctrl+Z will undo the last action you made. You will really want to know this one if you just deleted pages of text!

Select All

Want to select all the text in a document or text box, without awkwardly scrolling? Hit Ctrl+A.

Open, Save, and Print

To bring up the Open window in many programs, hit Ctrl+O. Ctrl+S is a very quick way to save, and Ctrl+P will bring up the Print dialog box.

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The Future of Windows

written by David Tan, Chief Technology Office, CHIPS Technology Group LLC

 

Windows

Microsoft held their first ever Build Conference in Anaheim in September. It’s a new annual event for Windows developers to gather and learn about building applications for the Windows platform. This one was special not only because it was the first, but also because leading up to it, all the buzz was about how much of Windows 8 Microsoft would show and what details we would learn about the next version of the most popular operating system in the world.

 

Microsoft did not disappoint. They have showed demos, talked about features and functions, and even made an open beta immediately available to all who are interested to download, play with, and Microsoft hopes develop applications for. The buzz leading up to the conference has grown into a fever pitch with partners, developers, and customers all extremely excited about the next Windows release. What is it about this platform that Microsoft is doing right, and why is everyone so excited?

First off, Windows has a new look and feel. The next interface, dubbed “Metro” represents the single biggest change to the Windows interface since the additions of the Start button back in 1995. It has been completely revamped from the ground up. It is a radical departure. The traditional desktop and icons have been replaced by dynamic tiles. These tiles will not only allow you to interact with program, but will allow the applications to communicate with the user by surfacing key messages, data, or photos, depending on the needs.

Speaking of revamped, the operating system has been rebuilt from the ground up. According to Microsoft, this version requires about half the memory of Windows 7, allowing for things like longer battery life, and more importantly, much better performance on less powerful processors. This last point is very key. Microsoft’s vision is to have a single operating system that runs on all hardware platforms – phones, tablets, PCs, etc. More importantly, they are trying to enable developers to write a single version of an application that will work on anything, unlike their counterparts from Apple, which currently requires 3 different builds of a program to work across the entire Apple hardware universe. This philosophy will be extremely popular with developers and will no doubt help Microsoft gain market share in the smart phone and tablet space very rapidly.

Getting back to the interface for a minute, it looks like it was built from the ground up to be touch enabled. Microsoft is most definitely designing this operating system to work on the next generation of hardware – tablets and otherwise. Even though a commercial version of a Windows tablet will probably not be available till next year, Microsoft distributed 5,000 early version units at the Build Conference. Just a further effort to get developers working on building “Metro” versions of their applications as soon as possible. In addition to being designed for future hardware platforms, this operating system looks to be the first designed from a user-centric point of view. In other words, Microsoft finally took a page out of the Apple playbook and built a user interface with the user in mind. Working with it just feels really natural. There is no doubt it will be a considerable adjustment for most users, but I’m pretty confident from my early experiences that the changes will be wildly successful.

Microsoft still has a lot of work to do to catch Apple and Google in the mobile and tablet space. Windows 8 will be a giant leap in the right direction. Coupled with the fact that they already own the desktop space so dominantly, I think people will flock to the new version when they see what it can do. I’m fairly certain that Microsoft will be solidly second in that space at this time next year, passing Google’s Android platform without much problem. I also truly believe Apple will be firmly in their sites. If Windows 8 lives up to the early demos and hype, Microsoft is finally on the right track to establish a leadership position in this critical market space. Let’s hope this new “reimagined” Microsoft (as Steve Ballmer called them during his Build keynote) stays the course because that will be the best possible scenario for any business looking to expand their use of mobile and tablet devices going forward.

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Remote working is no longer an employee perk, it’s a business necessity

Remote_working

Reprinted with permission from the Microsoft Small Business Center

 

The kind of office most of us are familiar with is a building with four walls and a roof that we probably drive to 40 or so hours each week, Monday through Friday. Today, many companies still maintain traditional offices, but the decision makers are also discovering that to compete in the current economy, employees must be able to do their jobs anywhere, anytime.

Microsoft recently commissioned a survey conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs among more than 4,500 information workers in 15 U.S. markets to better understand opinions and attitudes related to mobile and internal business technologies and capabilities. The survey results further underscore the growing requirement for mobile work solutions – more than half of respondents (57%) report that their company has a formal telework policy and more than three quarters of information workers (77%) say their company provides access to technology support for working remotely.

Working without walls – what it is, and isn’t At Microsoft, we like to describe remote working as “working without walls,” because it’s becoming much more than simply handing employees laptops and giving them the ability to check e-mail outside the office . . . though that’s a start. Rather, today’s business climate demands that employees be able to work just as effectively inside the office as they can outside the office. This means being able to use laptops as well as handheld devices to securely access vital business information, collaborate with colleagues (even face-to-face), make critical business decisions, and more.

Tools that can help A range of technology tools exists to help businesses effectively mobilize employees. Here are a few that are particularly helpful for working without walls.

Cloud-based software: One of the primary benefits the cloud has delivered to businesses of all sizes is access to software that formerly only existed on local servers and required employees to be in the office to use the applications. Now, thanks to the cloud, workers can use many of the programs they formerly only had access to in the office wherever they have a secure Internet connection.

Microsoft recently launched the beta version of Office 365 — an all-in-one solution that combines SharePoint, Exchange, Lync, and Office in an up-to-date cloud service. Ideal for letting employees remain productive in and out of the office, Office 365 makes things like videoconferencing, document and desktop sharing easy for mobile workers, as well as tasks like e-mail, chat, calendaring and document creation.

Smartphones: Sometimes, when working without walls, it’s just not efficient to conduct work from a laptop. For instance, you might be at a business lunch and can’t lug your laptop to the table, or it could already be stowed in the overhead compartment of an airplane when you realize you need to send off a quick e-mail before your plane departs.

In these instances, having a smartphone can make all the difference. A phone like Windows Phone 7, designed specifically for the business user, includes applications that make it possible to do virtually everything you already do on a desktop PC or laptop. It also includes numerous data protection features that help safeguard your business information should your phone be lost or stolen. What’s more, Office 365 will be available on Windows Phone 7, ensuring that users get the maximum productivity benefits this software provides.

Security enhanced operating systems: In those instances when using a laptop makes more sense than working from a smartphone, it’s vital that your computer’s operating system is security enhanced.

Windows 7, Microsoft’s newest operating system, is its most secure operating system to date and provides data encryption features through BitLocker — for hard drives, as well as BitLocker to Go — for removable disk drives. Another feature included in the Enterprise version of Windows 7 that’s particularly beneficial to mobile workers is DirectAccess, which gives users security enhanced and easy access to corporate networks without a VPN.

Collaboration, connection and security are business essentials inside, and outside the four walls of your office. Fortunately, today’s technology tools can easily help you empower employees to work productively from any location and will likely make your business leaner and more efficient as a result.

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