Useful business features in Windows 10

August 18th, 2017

The Windows Fall Creators Update released in April introduced many useful and interesting features, including a decluttered Start menu, more control over Windows updates, and an enhanced Microsoft Edge browser. Five months later, Microsoft follows up on all those enhancements with a new set of features. Here’s everything business users should get excited about.

Files on-demand in OneDrive

‘OneDrive Files On-Demand’ solves syncing problems often encountered by those who don’t want all their files synced to all their devices. This feature will give users the option to choose the folders that will be downloaded to the device they’re using, which helps save storage space and bandwidth, and gives users more flexibility.

Greater protection from ransomware

Microsoft beefs up Windows 10 security by introducing ‘Controlled folder access,’ a welcome feature in an era of rampant ransomware outbreaks such as WannaCry and Petya. This security enhancement enables users to assign a ‘switch’ to applications. When the switch is turned on, users are alerted any time unauthorized applications attempt to access or modify files in protected Desktop, My Documents, My Music, My Pictures, and My Videos folders.

Enterprise-level threat prevention

The Fall Creators update will also feature ‘Windows Defender Exploit Guard,’ a threat prevention system that, in Microsoft’s own words, ‘helps make vulnerabilities dramatically more difficult to exploit.’ The platform is primarily intended to recognize and safeguard against brand new malware that has not been cataloged or analyzed by security professionals.

Microsoft will also introduce ‘Windows Defender Application Guard,’ a program that protects Windows 10 users by isolating and containing threats and malware within the Edge browser. For now, it will be available only to Windows 10 Enterprise Edition and Hyper-V users.

Both ‘guards’ will complement firewalls and antivirus software to provide comprehensive protection to data, programs, devices, and networks.

Easier to reach contacts

Windows 10 subscribers will also benefit from the ‘My People’ feature, which will enhance collaboration. This new feature will let users pin contacts from their contact list to the Start Bar for quick access to email, instant messaging, or video calling. To activate, launch the People program and click on the icon found in the taskbar’s notifications area. Contacts can be pinned only if they have the Windows 10 App open in their system.

Other essential enhancements

The Fall Creators Update will also introduce small yet essential enhancements that will prove highly advantageous to businesses, one of which is a bandwidth limiting capability. Using this feature, network administrators can limit the amount of bandwidth allocated for Windows updates, allowing them to manage the updates for all devices across an entire network.

To do this:

  • Go to Deliver Optimization > Advanced options
  • Tick any of the three sliders
  • Adjust download and upload settings: limiting bandwidth for downloading updates; uploading updates to other PCS on the internet; and adjusting monthly upload limit
A battery-saving function will also be introduced to the new Windows 10 via ‘Power Throttling,’ which determines the activities that the system should prioritize based on a user’s activity. For example, if a user has multiple apps open but is actively using only a photo-editing tool, the system will allot greater power resources to the most actively used app and minimal resources to inactive ones.

Are you maximizing your Windows-powered computers’ features and capabilities? Get in touch with our experts to explore what Microsoft products can do for your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
August 2nd, 2017

Microsoft pays more attention to customer feedback than you might think. Many business owners who complained about having to purchase Office 365 and Windows 10 separately are finally getting what they wanted: Microsoft 365.

Microsoft 365 combines Office 365 and Windows 10 into one solution, which will be available in two plans: Microsoft 365 Business and Microsoft 365 Enterprise.

Microsoft 365 Business

Designed for small- to medium-sized companies, this bundle includes Office 365 Business Premium and selected features from Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security. Simply put, you’ll get cloud versions of Office applications, business class email, Windows 10, and cyber security controls, among many other user-friendly features.

The main difference between the new Microsoft 365 Business and the current Office 365 Business Premium is that the former includes Windows 10, plus a single console to manage settings, automatic Offices apps to Windows 10 PC deployment, and robust security applications like Windows Defender.

Microsoft 365 Business will be available on August 2nd, 2017 for $20 per user per month.

Microsoft 365 Enterprise

Capable of supporting up to 300 users, Microsoft 365 Enterprise is designed for medium-to-large businesses. It combines Office 365 Enterprise, Windows 10 Enterprise, and Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility + Security features into one solution. You can expect all the features of Office 365 including cloud versions of Office applications, access across mobile devices, business-class email, document and email access controls, and Skype for Business.

The inclusion of Windows 10 Enterprise means you’ll get more advanced capabilities than from the basic version such as Credential Guard and Device Guard, extensive manageability and a broad range of options for application management and operating system deployment.

Last but not least, Enterprise Mobility + Security offers comprehensive identity-driven protection, mobile devices and applications management, risk-based conditional access to threat analysis, and single sign-on capabilities across devices to keep things secure.

Microsoft 365 Enterprise is now available with a pricing structure based on your subscription plan.

By choosing the right subscription model, you’ll be able to make the most out of Microsoft’s growing number of service offerings. If you’re looking to upgrade to Windows 10 and have any questions about the operating system, or are wondering which of the two plans to choose, give us a call today.

 

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
July 15th, 2017

The recent WannaCry and Petya ransomware attacks have caused massive disruptions for Windows users. Although ransomware infection has slowed down in the past few weeks, many experts are saying that this is only just the beginning. Soon, newer and far more dangerous strains of malware will be developed. To help people defend against these threats, Microsoft has released new security features.

Controlled folders With Microsoft’s new Controlled folders access feature, you can list certain documents and folders as “protected.” Only whitelisted apps can access and edit these folders, while any attempted changes by malicious apps are simply blocked by Windows Defender.

In theory, this should slow down a ransomware’s ability to encrypt critical information. Some reports suggest that other threats like malicious file macros and viruses can be prevented by this feature.

So far, only Windows Insider users have access to controlled folders. But if you’ve already signed up, you can access the feature by going to Windows Defender Security Center and then enabling Controlled folder access. From here, you can choose which folders will be protected and what apps are allowed to access them. To save you time, common Microsoft applications are trusted automatically, but you can remove them from your whitelist whenever you want.

Application Guard Apart from folder protection, Microsoft also made security enhancements for web browsers. The Windows Defender Application Guard is designed to prevent intrusions, using Microsoft’s Hyper-V virtual machine technology to detect and isolate compromised applications from the rest of your system. So if someone accidentally downloads a virus from their web browser, Application Guard will contain the threat before it infiltrates the rest of your company’s devices, apps, data, and network.

Device Guard In a similar vein, the Device Guard feature, which is also found in the Windows Defender Security Center, minimizes computer exposure to malware by using advanced threat detection policies to make sure only approved code is running throughout the system. This is meant to add an extra layer of defense in between your firewall and antivirus software.

As mentioned, Windows Insider users can get early access to these security features, but if you want to make sure that these security features are as strong as they can be, we suggest you wait for their public release around September for the Fall Creators update.

Want to stay on top of the latest technologies that can help you beat ransomware, viruses, and other nasty cyberattacks? Contact us today for any security updates and advice.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
June 29th, 2017

Microsoft products usually have an end-of-support date, where no more feature updates and security patches will be offered. However, earlier this month, Microsoft has released a security update for Windows XP, an operating system that has been unsupported since 2014. Although releasing a patch for an old system seems unusual, Microsoft does have its reasons.

More WannaCry copycats The primary reason why Microsoft reassessed their update policy for Windows XP was due to the success of WannaCry, a ransomware worm that encrypted hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide. Even though the attack did not affect XP computers, Microsoft anticipates increased risk of similar attacks for the outdated OS being developed in the near future.

According to Microsoft’s Head of Cyber Defense Operations Center Adrienne Hall, cyberattacks by government organizations and copycat hacking groups are imminent; and this time, they’ll improve upon WannaCry’s shortcomings. In fact, shortly after WannaCry was stopped on May 12th, other strains with more sophisticated code popped up seeking to exploit the same weaknesses.

NSA leaks Many security experts also suspect that Microsoft is releasing security fixes for outdated systems because of leaked NSA hacking tools. Over the years, the NSA’s ‘hacking’ department, Equation Group, has been storing cyber exploits in its arsenal. But a group known as the Shadow Brokers found these exploits and publicly disclosed them, which led to the WannaCry outbreak.

Right now, the Shadow Brokers are promising to leak more NSA exploit tools to hackers in the Dark Web who are willing to pay $10,000.

The update Since a significant portion of businesses are still working with XP, Microsoft believes that their recent security update is the best way to protect all Windows users. The new patch fixes 16 critical vulnerabilities, many of which seem to defend against the exploits leaked by the Shadow Brokers.

Windows 10 users can find the critical update in the Microsoft Download Center. Alternatively, they can simply check for updates in Windows Update, which can be found in the Settings menu. But to install the update for unsupported operating systems, users should visit Microsoft’s security advisory page for tips and download links.

Although Microsoft has extended support for Windows XP, don’t expect regular fixes for outdated systems. As always, the best protection is to use an up-to-date system that’s equipped with the latest security patches.

“Older systems, even if fully updated, lack the latest security features,” said Hall.

If you’re unsure about your Windows security, what operating system you’re running, or how to protect your company workstations, give us a call. Our certified and experienced experts will help keep your business safe from WannaCry and future malware attacks.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
June 16th, 2017

It’s undeniable that keyboard shortcuts can activate computer commands faster than dragging a touchpad or a mouse. To that end, if you’re using Windows 10, there are a couple new keyboard shortcuts worth trying.

Windows Snapping

If you’ve never used Windows Snapping, you’re missing out on one of Windows 10’s key features. Previously known as Aero Snap on Windows 7, the snapping feature allows you to snap windows vertically on top of each other. You can even snap windows to a 2x2 grid for better multi-tasking. Simply use these keyboard shortcuts:

  • Windows Key + Left - Snap current window to the left side of the screen.
  • Windows Key + Right - Snap current window to the right side of the screen.
  • Windows Key + Up - Snap current window to the top of the screen.
  • Windows Key + Down - Snap current window to the bottom of the screen.
You can also combine these shortcuts to snap your current window into a corner like top left, top right and more.

Task Views

This window management feature allows you to see all your opened windows so you can quickly return to a specific program or document. This is particularly useful if you have multiple windows opened at once. In addition to clicking the “Task View” button on the taskbar to open it, these keyboard shortcuts will do the trick:

 

  • Windows Key + Tab - Open a new Task View interface with windows from your current virtual desktop appearing in the Task View list. To switch between virtual desktops, simply use the virtual desktop switcher at the bottom of the screen.
  • Alt + Tab - While not a new keyboard shortcut per se, it now allows you to switch between open windows on all virtual desktops.
Virtual Desktop

A great way to stay organized, this nifty feature lets you use unlimited number of virtual desktops so you can dedicate each of them for certain functions. For instance, one could be used solely for work with all your business software and the other for entertainment. Some keyboard shortcuts to help you quickly manage your virtual desktops include:

  • Windows Key + Ctrl + D - Create a new virtual desktop and switch to it.
  • Windows Key + Ctrl + F4 - Close current virtual desktop.
  • Windows Key + Ctrl + Left / Right - Switch to virtual desktop on the left or right.
If you’re looking for ways to boost productivity, or have any questions about how Microsoft Windows can help streamline your operations, just give us a call. Our IT experts are more than happy to help.

 

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
May 27th, 2017

Windows 10’s Fall Creators Update is the next major update that Microsoft will roll out in September. Besides reusing the same "Creators Update" name and focusing on bringing the Windows experience to iOS and Android devices, here are some noteworthy features users can expect.

Timeline It's designed to grant Windows 10 users freedom to switch between multiple devices, including iOS and Android phones. Timeline lets you pick up from where you left off if you're switching between multiple Windows 10 devices. With the Cortana integration, this will even extend to some Microsoft apps on iOS and Android. This useful new feature will be accessible via Window 10’s Task View.

OneDrive Files on Demand This feature allows you to access all your cloud-based files without having to download them in order to optimize your device's storage space. What’s more, you won't have to change the way you work, because all your files — even those online — can be seen in File Explorer, and they work just like every other file on your device.

Cloud clipboard The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update brings a cloud-powered clipboard that lets you copy information from one Windows 10 device and paste it onto another. And this isn't limited to text alone either. On top of that, it supports Android and iOS devices if you use Microsoft's SwiftKey virtual keyboard.

Pick up where you left off As the name suggests, it basically allows you to start working on your PC and continue working on your phone when you are away from your PC (and vice-versa). Currently, the feature works only between Windows 10 PCs in the Windows 10 Creators Update -- but with the upcoming Fall Creators Update for Windows 10, Microsoft will be integrating this capability into your phones as well.

My People It was originally announced as a key feature in the April's Creator Update, but will be launched in the coming Fall Creators Update. This feature lets you pin a number of connections to your taskbar -- three, in the current Insider preview -- and stay in constant touch with them. It defaults to Skype, but you can choose an alternative if you'd like.

These are just a handful of the nifty features users can expect from Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. For more information, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re more than happy to help.

We’ll keep you updated on the latest developments.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
May 12th, 2017

Updates to the Windows operating system have a controversial reputation. On the one hand, Microsoft issues them frequently to combat cybersecurity risks and introduce new features. On the other hand, the update frequency and requirements leave some users feeling like it's impossible to keep up. The most recent announcement from Microsoft is working to address these inconsistencies.

Windows 10 updates in 2017

In the summer of 2016, Microsoft announced that Windows would receive two large-scale feature updates in 2017. The first of these was released in April and is referred to as the Creators Update. Although many of the new features are far too advanced for the average user, the Creators Update included huge boosts to data security, user administration, and mobile device management integrations.

The next big update is due in September, and is rumored to come with several consumer-level features such as the People integration that was originally slated for the Creators Update. People would allow you to pin contact icons to your start bar to consolidate shared cloud storage, messaging platforms and calendars for individuals in one convenient location.

The future of Windows OS updates

From 2017 onward, Microsoft has committed to sticking to this “predictable twice-per-year” schedule. Along with more reliable releases, the Windows team is also committing to a more reliable support lifecycle. As long as you are running a version of Windows 10 that has been released sometime within the last 18 months, you can be sure that Microsoft engineers are keeping it current and secure.

This is great news for businesses that struggle to keep their servers and workstations updated. Out-of-date operating systems are one of the biggest risks to data security for small businesses, and promising this level of reliability makes it much easier for IT teams to plan ahead.

As trivial as it may seem, keeping all your software and hardware updated is a huge benefit of outsourced IT management. From productivity improvements to security patches, most businesses are missing out on vital features in a number of their services and platforms. To ensure that every solution you’ve invested in is working at its peak, call us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
April 26th, 2017

Creators Update contains the most significant upgrades to Microsoft’s Windows 10. Some of the stand-out features include application enhancements, improved user experience, and a few productivity features that may seem too small to be noticed. These upgrades were recently rolled out, giving reason to personal and business users alike to get excited.

Controlled updates

If you’ve been using Windows 10, you’re familiar with this scenario: While you’re on your computer, the system automatically reboots for automatic updates, interrupting your workflow. Although automatically having your system updated on time has advantages, it can also be a burden and a nuisance because it leaves you with no option to decline or delay an update -- which you might want to do especially when you’re in the middle of a critical task.

With the Creators Update, you can choose to pause updates for a week. It also lets you set Active Hours, an 18-hour window when Windows won’t install updates. It’s a minor enhancement that should be a welcome feature to users who like having better control over their system updates.

Improved privacy controls

When Windows 10 was launched, privacy was a big concern among users, mainly because of the amount and nature of data being collected. Users and certain regulatory bodies were alarmed that Microsoft, through Windows 10, didn’t have enough control over how it processes and collects data. Microsoft initially responded by announcing that setting up privacy protocols will be easier when it launches its new updates.

And now, Microsoft has taken steps to address these privacy issues. Creators Update introduces a Privacy Dashboard, which offers a more seamless and user-friendly way to control privacy settings, specifically in terms of location, speech recognition, diagnostics, tailored diagnostics data, and relevant ads.

Another privacy enhancement is in Windows Defender, which now features improved scanning options and better reporting of your PC’s performance and health.

Other small changes

Other interface enhancements and updates to the Windows 10 ecosystem also add a nice touch to the overall user experience. These updates include more vivid themes, a bluetooth-enabled lock function called Dynamic Lock, new display settings, videos and maps writing capabilities, and more.

Among the other new features, users might not immediately notice the upgraded storage settings. If you’re worried about all these new applications and programs taking up space in your PC, don’t fret. The new update also comes with a storage setting that auto-deletes unnecessary files when your storage space is about to run out.

All in all, businesses that use Windows 10 can expect better privacy, controlled updates, improved security, and a smoother user experience with the Creators Update. Microsoft is expected to introduce even more updates later this year, and if you want to know how you can make the most of these and other Microsoft features, we’re here to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
April 8th, 2017

170px_shutterstock_315792941We live in a digital era where innovations are emerging quicker than the speed of light. This means older operating systems might soon be discontinued. Case in point, Microsoft Vista. After a 10-year run, Microsoft is set to discontinue support for Vista users from April 11th onwards. On top of that, key security or software updates will cease as well.

Windows Vista Launched worldwide on January 30th, 2007, Windows Vista has been Microsoft’s operating system for home and business desktops, laptops, tablet PCs and even media center PCs. This version came with a bunch of new features such as Aero, an updated graphical user interface; Windows Search, a new search function; as well as Windows DVD Maker, a new multimedia tool. Vista aimed to increase communication between machines on a home network, with peer-to-peer technology that simplifies file sharing.

Windows Vista criticism Not too long after its release, the operating system came under fire from both the users and the press. Initially, Vista aimed to improve the state of security, the main criticism its predecessor -- Windows XP -- received. There were commonly exploited security vulnerabilities and overall susceptibility to malware, viruses, and buffer overflows. According to Net Applications, Windows Vista has less than 1 percent of global market share in terms of PC operating systems. Despite that, Windows 10 is doing extremely well, boasting over 400 million devices running on it.

Will computers still function properly? Essentially, yes, but they will be susceptible to viruses on account of Microsoft discontinuing security updates. On top of that, Internet Explorer 9 won’t be supported either, meaning surfing the web with this browser could possibly expose you to even more vulnerabilities. Microsoft also warned users that certain apps and devices would not work with Vista, as software and hardware manufacturers are optimizing services for newer versions of Windows.

What’s the next step for your business? We recommend that you upgrade to Microsoft’s latest operating system: Windows 10. But before doing so, check the software and hardware specifications of your PCs, since they might not be able to handle Windows 10. If that’s the case, users can opt for a Windows 7 upgrade as an alternative.

Keeping up with the latest technological innovations might be a tedious task, but it’s also an imperative one. To ensure the future of your small- or medium-sized business, you’ll be needing IT that works for you and not the other way round. For more information on Windows operating systems, feel free to get in touch with us today!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
March 24th, 2017

2017March23Windows_AAdvertisements are invading every corner of our digital lives, but if there were one place users thought they’d be safe, it’d be Windows’ File Explorer. But that’s no longer the case. Microsoft has started advertising products inside the window users access to navigate their hard drive. Thankfully, we know how to disable these ads.

Who is getting these ads?

Right now, we’re still unsure of how widespread Microsoft’s new advertising strategy goes. Not every Windows workstation has started displaying File Explorer banners, and based on some overwhelmingly negative reactions online, the campaign might get shut down before it even reaches your desktop.

However, even if you have yet to be targeted, you can quickly and easily disable these ads right now.

How do I turn them off?

At the moment, these pushy promotions show up only in Windows’ File Explorer window, so that’s where we’ll begin. After you’ve opened a new window, there are only five steps to boot them off your screen:
  1. Select View from the ribbon along the top of any File Explorer window.
  2. Click Options on the far righthand side.
  3. In the new window select the View tab.
  4. In the Advanced Settings window pane, scroll down and deselect ‘Show sync provider notifications’.
  5. Click Apply and close the Folder Options window.
That’s all it takes! Keep in mind that we highly recommend the services Microsoft chose to advertise with this move. Office 365, OneDrive, and others are all great cloud platforms for safely working and collaborating from any device in any location -- we just don’t want to see advertisements for them when we’re hunting down sales records.

When you’re in the market for the Windows tips and tricks, this is the best blog on the web. If you’re looking for something a little more robust however, our managed services are second to none. Get in touch with us today to learn more!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows