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Will Windows 8 be the last of the ‘traditional’ operating systems?


As always it starts with a comment and this time it was “I hate Windows 8 it is ****!!”. “Here we go again a client who hates Windows 8” I thought to myself.

The client had bought a new laptop for his business and naturally it came with Windows 8 (you can still get Windows 7 but it is becoming harder) and he was not happy.  This particular client had been on XP for ever and doesn’t like change at all.  Trying to explain to him that Microsoft is trying to have one operating system on all devices whilst also trying to get customers to move into the cloud was like trying to pull teeth from a crocodile.  It wasn’t going to happen!!

To me Windows 8 is a transitional operating system.  Tablets by design are consumption devices and consumers at the moment love them. Microsoft are trying to tap into this market by offering a device that consumers want (ie tablet) but also a device which allows them to actually do some work on and the best way to achieve this on a tablet is to offer work based apps like Office 365.  Windows 8 is designed with this in mind as it can run ‘Metro’ apps just as comfortably as it can with traditional software.

Windows 8 is also trying to stay true to its roots and run local applications on laptops and PC’s as not everyone is willing to give up their software just yet, but how much longer will this happen? Windows 7 and its predecessors were all about running applications like Microsoft Office on your local system. Future operating systems will be all about accessing applications in the cloud and Windows 8 is the transition in the middle.

Whether this is a good thing for everyone is debatable as without sufficient broadband speeds consumers, and businesses alike, would struggle to access online applications.  I guess only time will tell.

So over to you. Will Windows 8 be the last of the ‘traditional’ operating systems?

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I am Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows and Linux based IT Support, laptop repairs and computer repairs to both business and personal clients in Stirling, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire.

For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find a list of my services, testimonials, blog and much more!!

 

 

 

 

Is there a place for a third mobile operating system?


Third place.  Usually people and companies want to be first and not third but in the mobile industry third place, behind both Android and Apple, is what a lot of companies (inc both Blackberry and Microsoft) are aiming for.

At the moment ‘the big two’ have almost all of the market share between them (about 91% at present) but a lot of the carriers would like a viable third option so they are less reliant on selling Android and Apple Devices.  But what about consumers, do they really care?  I would hazard a guess and say no and I shall explain why.

Most businesses use Microsoft Office in the workplace because they are used to it and more importantly they need Outlook.  If you suggested to them they could switch to a new piece of software that did exactly the same as Office they would probably say no.  They would be so used to using Office on a daily basis that the thought of learning something else would not be very appealing.  It is the same with mobile phones.  If you have gone out and purchased an Android phone, and all the apps you require, you are not going to want to switch over to Windows Phone, Apple or Blackberry and basically start from scratch again (even if the same apps are available).  Humans are creatures of habit and once we get set in our ways it takes a lot for us to change.

This then is the biggest problem facing anyone who wants to be the ‘third mobile operating system’.  There are some good options (Firefox OS, Ubuntu Touch, Windows Phone and Blackberry to name a few) but unless they capture the publics imagination, and secure the backing of the carriers, they are going to fail.

This is just my take on ‘the third OS question’ but you might have a different view and if so please let me know!!

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I am Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows and Linux based IT Support, laptop repairs and computer repairs to both business and personal clients throughout Stirling, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire.

For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find a list of my services, testimonials, blog and much more!!

 

 

 

Will tablets go the same way as the netbook?


It is 2007 and a mobile revolution is about to take place.  Asus has just brought out the EeePC 701, the first netbook with a 7 inch screen running Linux (XP was to follow). Journalists and consumers alike are starting to get very exited about this low cost, compact and versatile laptop.

Fast forward to 2013 and I think it is fair to say that the netbook era is finished.  All the major manufacturers have stopped making netbooks and Acer, the only firm who still do, are stopping this year. So what exactly killed them off?

1. They were underpowered with low end specs

The spec sheet wasn’t exactly stellar.  Most of the early ones had 512Mb of RAM and a dual core processor running at about 1.2GHz (or there about) meaning it took a while to open documents and generally get anything done.  Microsoft and Intel are partly to blame for this as they realised that they couldn’t make much profit from netbooks and so they put artificial caps on the hardware specs.  When netbooks started coming with Windows 7 Starter on them they were even slower!!

2. Compact size

The compact size was a blessing and a curse for the netbook. It was small enough to get carried around with no hassle but the small screen meant low resolution while the keyboard made typing difficult.

3. Tablets

This is probably the main factor for the demise of the netbook.  Compare the specs of an ipad to a standard netbook and there is no contest.  Couple that with touchscreen, apps and general WOW factor and the netbook didn’t stand a chance.

So with the netbook almost gone and tablets seemingly taking their place what is to stop the whole scenario playing out again and this time tablets going the way of the dodo?

Actually there are a couple of things in the tablets favour.

1. Microsoft and Intel can’t cap the hardware specs

Most tablets don’t run Windows or come with Intel processors but instead come with iOS, Android and ARM processors.  This means Microsoft can’t bully manufacturers they way they did with the netbook meaning tablets will get whatever specs the manufacturers decide.

2. There is a huge WOW factor surrounding the market

There are apps that allow you to do almost everything these days and consumers like touchscreens.  There is still a big buzz surrounding tablets at the moment.

3. Pricing

There are low end tablets (recently saw one for £40 on Amazon) for people who just want to browse the internet and check emails but there are also top end tablets with specs which match laptops of 2 years ago.  There is basically a tablet at whatever price you are looking for.

4. Tablets are truly mobile

Tablets can be connected to either wifi or 3G which allows them to be truly portable. People are starting to work from coffee shops or anywhere else there is a wifi connection and tablets are a great tool to allow them to do just this.

As great as all this sounds there is one big thing which might hurt the tablet and that is smartphones.  Smartphones are getting more powerful with each release and some manufacturers are looking along the lines of using a smartphone with a docking station meaning you get a smartphone when out and about and then a PC when you come back to the office.  If this does catch on then tablet sales could significantly drop but as with everything we will have to wait and see!!

So what do you think? Will tablets go the same way as the netbook?

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows, Mac and Linux based IT Support to small businesses in Stirling, Alloa and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

 

 

Should Microsoft abandon the consumer market all together?


Should Microsoft abandon the consumer market all together?

Now that is a question I have thought a lot about lately.  Their mobile phones aren’t exactly flying off the shelf and their tablets are sitting there getting dust (I have tried a Surface RT and was very impressed by the way) and Windows 8 (again I like) isn’t exactly warming the hearts of consumers.

What also hasn’t helpt them is that PC’s in the home are going the way of the dodo and being replaced by tablets and smartphones.  They were late to the mobile revolution and so far they haven’t been able to catch up.

To put it blunt Microsoft is in a bit of pickle at the moment with their newest offerings to the consumer market.

Contrast that with the business environment where Microsoft is so entrenched that it would take something monumental to shift them.  Their server software is used by millions of companies worldwide along with their biggest asset, Microsoft Office.  With the change to their subscription pricing this should fill their coffers even more (consumers on the other hand HATE paying subscriptions for software).  There is also Windows Azure which has been picking up subscriptions left right and centre lately.

Now what would happen if they suddenly decided to cut their losses and concentrate solely on the business market?

In the short term they would lose out on new licences of Windows but since the consumer market is shrinking anyway maybe that wouldn’t effect them to much.  With consumers no longer a top priority Windows could then be redesigned for business users (unlike Windows 8 at the moment) which would make enterprises very happy and entrench Microsoft further. Their services strategy (eg Azure, Office 365 etc) would also have more resources at their disposal which would mean they could offer better services which in turn leads to happy customers which again leads to full coffers.

This is just my opinion but I would be interested to hear what other people think so should Microsoft abandon the consumer market all together?

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows, Mac and Linux based IT Support to small businesses in Stirling, Alloa and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

 

 

No BB10 on Blackberry Playbook – why this is a good decision and also a bad one


I love my Blackberry Playbook as most people know. It has almost everything I need in a tablet and complements my other devices rather nicely.  The only thing I would like is for it to be upgraded to Blackberry 10. Well that is now not going to happen.

Last week Blackberry announced that the Playbook was not going to get an update to Blackberry 10. I am disappointed by this but I can fully understand why.  On a purely technical level if the Playbook can’t run the software to a level which the customer would be happy with then don’t update it.  The software that the Playbook already has is plenty good enough for what most people need.

On the other hand Blackberry has effectively killed the Playbook off.  For months they promised customers that Blackberry 10 was coming and even continued to sell the remaining tablets which a lot of people bought on the premise of getting the new software.  To then turn around and tell those same customers “sorry you aren’t getting it” leaves a very bad taste.  This is not how you do customer service.

What is also a bigger problem is that Blackberry don’t intend to build a new tablet around Blackberry 10. In an age where every major manufacturer is making a tablet of some sort for Blackberry to say we aren’t bothering is a mistake.  I am seeing more and more iPads and Android tablets entering the business environment and what people want is a tablet which plays nicely with their smartphone.  If Blackberry don’t make a tablet then people are going to switch to either Android or iOS to get this compatibility and by default they will lose market share.  Blackberry 10 on a tablet would be fantastic but I wouldn’t hold my breath on seeing one anytime soon.

On a purely personal note my Blackberry Bold 9780 and my Playbook get along just fine. My calendar syncs between the two, so do my emails and Blackberry Bridge is fantastic. But my phone contract is up in November and by then my Playbook will be over 3 years old. With no updated tablet on the horizon I am tempted to switch to Android purely on the basis of that compatibility of software across all my devices.  I love my Playbook but it might be goodbye Blackberry and a lot of people might soon be doing the same thing.

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I am Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows and Linux based IT Support, laptop repairs and computer repairs to both business and personal clients in Stirling, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire.

For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find a list of my services, testimonials, blog and much more!!

 

 

To cloud or not to cloud? That is the question


To cloud or not to cloud? This is a question I am getting frequently asked by clients and there is no right or wrong answer.  As with everything else it depends on what your circumstances are and whether it is feasible for you at that time.  For example if your broadband is only 1 Mb (which still happens in parts of Scotland) then going to a fully cloud based system for everything would not be a great idea.  On the other hand if your data is confidential and can’t be stored outside of the UK (for instance) then using a cloud based backup like Dropbox would not work as their servers are based in the US.

Apart from the internet in general small businesses rely on three, maybe four things to be productive. These are emails, productivity suites (eg Microsoft Office), backups and maybe databases. You can run onsite versions of all of them or you could choose to use the cloud versions instead.  Lets take a look at the differences.

Emails

Every business not matter what their size relies on emails. As a business you basically have two options – have an email server on site and host your own emails or you pay a company somewhere to host them for you.  Unless you have a large number of users and the onsite expertise I would recommend you pay a company to host your emails as this is usually the most cost effective way.  If you really need to keep control of your emails then you need an Exchange server and someone to maintain it which is not cheap.

Productivity Suites

At the moment chances are your business will be using some form of Microsoft Office.  The advantage of the desktop version is clear – you switch on your laptop or PC and you can edit files while being offline.  You don’t need an internet connection.  But what happens if you use a tablet, Linux, Mac or even a smartphone? This is where online productivity suites come in.  For a monthly fee you can access Office 365 or Google Docs (main two at the moment) through a web browser from any device.  You files are stored on either Google Drive or Skydrive which means so long as you have an internet connection you can access them. The obvious downside is that if you don’t have access to the internet you can’t use them, however both Office 365 and Google Docs have offline modes (to varying degreees) which minimise the impact.

Personally I like to keep a local version of a productivity suite (in my case Libreoffice) on my systems.  I do like the thought of accessing your files from anywhere which is why I use Dropbox (more on that later) but I like to edit them on a large monitor (call me old fashioned) using a mouse and keyboard.  If you or your business does a lot of document editing on the move (ie tablets, smartphones) then an online productivity suite might be right up your alley.

Backups

For me this is the big one.  I strongly encourage all of my clients to backup offsite and this is where cloud backups (like Dropbox) are ideal.  You backup all your files into a single folder which automatically syncs online.  The advantages should be clear cut.  If anything happens to your business premises then your files are stored securely online and you can easily access them from any device connected to the internet.  The disadvantages are that you pay a monthly fee for the previlege of having your files online and your data might be stored on servers which are located in countries you might not approve of.

There is nothing stopping you from using onsite backups (ie backup to a server which itself is backed up onsite) if that is what you want but you need to understand the risks.  If the premises burns down or is flooded you lose everything.  In this instance I would seriously take a look at online backups.

Databases

These can be online or onsite and again this depends on your circumstances.  Online databases give you the advantage of accessing them from anywhere without needing to use VPN’s.  If you are worried about data security then invest in an onsite server and a VPN solution to access the database from anywhere.

The cloud is here to stay and does offer some tremendous advantages like accessing you files from anywhere on any device. As with everything though it also has its disadvantages, mainly that if your broadband speed isn’t very fast your experience will be less than rosy. Don’t forget that if you lose the internet you cant access your files or emails either.  Choices choices!!

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows, Mac and Linux based IT Support to small businesses in Stirling, Alloa and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

 

 

 

 

Why the operating system is becoming irrelevant


As always it starts with a question and this time the question was – can I run Logmein on a linux system? In this case the answer was no and I pointed the client in the direction of Teamviewer instead.

At the moment software manufacturers are writing their software for certain operating systems only (for example LogMein doesn’t work on Linux) but with more and more users now turning to the internet to get their work done, for example using Google Docs or Office 365, or using apps does it actually matter what the underlying system is?

Lets take the consumer (ie home) market first. Here the PC is on its last legs and tablets and smartphones are on the rise.  Where previously you had to have a copy of Windows to be productive this is no longer the case (Office 365 for iphone anyone?).  You can now get apps on your tablet that allow you do accomplish almost anything.  For example on my Blackberry Playbook I purchased an app called Smart Office 2 which allows me to produce and edit .doc or .xls files from my tablet.  The same can be found on Android and iOS too. Failing that you can use Office 365 or Google Docs straight through your browser and use online storage to back up your files.  There are numerous apps for remote desktop software, photo editing etc.  In fact you can get apps for almost everything.  In this environment it doesn’t matter what operating your system is running.

Now let us turn our attention to the business environment where it is not so clear cut.  At the moment you are either a Linux business, an Apple business or a Windows one.  Yes you can have a mixture of all three but on the whole a business will use one operating system across all their computers.  Here businesses tend to stick with software that runs on their platforms, which makes it easier to support, however iPads and iPhones (and Android to a lesser extent) are slowly beginning to encroach on the traditional PC’s (PC’s will still be around for a long time yet).  With the advent of BYOD (Bring your Own Device) this will only increase and the only realistic way for businesses to support all these different devices is to put all the data in the cloud.  If you are accessing data online (again taking Google Apps as an example) it doesn’t matter what system you have so long as it can access the internet.  The ‘mobile takeover’ hasn’t happened yet but it is slowly making ground.

So what do you think does it matter what operating system you use to get things done? Let me know!!

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows, Mac and Linux based IT Support to small businesses in Stirling, Alloa and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

 

 

The PC in your pocket


Now I already know that that the newest smartphones on the market are pretty powerful and can do almost everything that a user would need however there are times when a full desktop or laptop fits the bill rather better. Trying to type a document on a smartphone can be rather tedious when compared to a laptop with its full office suite (whether it be Microsoft office, Libreoffice or something else).

Now with processing power and memory increasing every year on smartphones I think we have reached the point where they are approaching the processing power of laptops 5 years ago and this got me thinking.  Is there a way to to have the best of both worlds?  What I mean is a desktop when you need to ‘get things done’  and a phone when out and about.  To this end I scoured the internet to see if such a thing was on the cards and found the Ubuntu Phone.

ubuntu-touch-preview-431x269

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyone who knows anything about Ubuntu knows that they make a really good opensource operating system for desktops and laptops.  Recently they have decided to have a crack at the phone and tablet market with Ubuntu touch and the initial progress looks very promising. Basically what they are trying to do is have a Ubuntu smartphone when out and about but when the phone is plugged into a docking station, and a keyboard and monitor added, you get a full desktop version of Ubuntu full of all your favourite productivity tools – Libreoffice, GIMP and so forth.  Sounds good hey?

They are aiming for the phones to be out towards the end of 2013 and good luck to them.  If they can pull this off then the market could be turned on its head overnight.  Surely this is the way forward where we just have one powerful device which when docked (in an office, at home etc) expands its abilities and allows us to be productive rather than one device for this and one device for that.

Me I am waiting patiently to see how this pans out but the Ubuntu Phone is a very tempting prospect.

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I am Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows and Linux based IT Support, laptop repairs and computer repairs to both business and personal clients in Stirling, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire.

For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find a list of my services, testimonials, blog and much more!!

 

 

Are NAS devices becoming the new standard for file servers in small businesses?

Almost every company I deal with has some form of file server whether it be a full Windows Server on a domain, a Linux server or even a Windows 7 box just sharing files across a workgroup.  There is one device though that I keep seeing and installing more and more and that is the little NAS box.


These little devices are fantastic at sharing files or being used to backup all the systems on the network.  They can also be administered from a web page and are usually much cheaper than implementing a server.  The cost of ownership is usually less too with lower energy consumption (lower spec CPU with less heat generated).

Now the question is are they better than a full server? This depends on what you mean by better.  For instance if you are just looking at the cost of maintenance and implementation then yes they probably are.

But if you are looking to add roles to your server at a later date ( eg maybe running a file serving, DNS server and DHCP server on the same box) then a file server is a much better proposition whether it be Linux or Windows based.  Chances are you are also more familiar using a Windows or Linux based file server so training costs would also be less.  There is also one major thing going for file servers that NAS boxes in general (but not all) don’t have and that is backing up to the cloud.  You can install Dropbox, Box, Google Drive or whatever you fancy on your file server that can automatically backup your files to the cloud.  If cloud backups are required then you seriously need to look at implementing a file server (again whether this is Linux or Windows based depends on your network and expertise).

In my experience small businesses are trying to squeeze more value from their IT so in this scenario the little NAS box becomes an attractive proposition.

It was only last week I had a meeting with a company ( 8 employees) who are interested in implementing a file server on their network which would also backup their files on a nightly basis.  I quoted them for a SBS  2011 system, a Linux one and also a NAS box.  It was no surprise that the NAS box was the cheapest and in this case it does everything that the client wants (they don’t require cloud backups) so they are going with it.

So what do you think are NAS devices becoming the new standard for file servers in small businesses?

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I am Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows and Linux based IT Support, laptop repairs and computer repairs to both business and personal clients in Stirling, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire.

For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find a list of my services, testimonials, blog and much more!!

 

Windows 8 – The journey from pure hatred to new best friend


I had a call from a home client last week who wanted me to take a look at his new Windows 8 laptop.  When I asked him what the issue was I got the reply “I cant do anything on it.  It is just so ****** different.  Can you please come out and show me how to use it”.

No problem.  I turned up on site and it was obvious from the start that he hated Windows 8. He knew his way around a Windows 7 system and thought he would take to Windows 8 with no problems.  He was wrong.  So I asked him to be a bit more specific about what he was trying to do on the system.

Problem Number 1 – I don’t know how to open up any programs.

“What is this new start screen rubbish everytime I start the laptop”. These were his words regarding the new Start (aka Metro) interface.  I explained that Microsoft was trying to have the same interface across all devices.  So if you had a tablet, laptop or smartphone with Windows 8 you would see the same interface no matter what the device.  “I guess there is some logic in that I suppose but how do I get to my programs”

I showed him how to pin his most used programs to the Start Screen and told him that the Windows Key was now his new best friend.  Press the Windows key and you go back to the Start Screen where all his programs now were.  This he did like – very much.

Problem Number 2 – Where has the Control Panel gone?

I showed him how to search for the Control Panel and that in fact once opened the Control Panel is almost identical to the one in Windows 7.  I then again showed him how to pin it to his Start Screen so he would not have to go looking for it again.  Again this he liked very much.

Problem 3 – Where is Microsoft Office?

This you can’t blame on Windows 8.  The client had been using Office through their work computer for years and this being the first home laptop they had purchased themselves thought it came with Windows 8.  Once I had explained the finer points of Microsoft subscription charges (this they seriously didn’t like) and showed them how much Office 2010 would cost them I showed them Libreoffice which it turns out would satisfy their word processing needs.  This was installed and automatically pinned to the Start Screen.

The main thing my client wanted was to be shown how to use the new interface.  Once I had shown them that underneath all the new shiny stuff it was still the Windows they had used for all these years they were very happy.  They love that you can pin all your programs to the Start Screen and using the Windows Key can find them in an instant.  Rather than go through the Start button and search for them (by the way they don’t miss it) all their programs are there in one place ready to be clicked on.  Boot time is much faster than they were used too and when I left I heard the immortal words “I am actually beginning to like this”.

One more happy client.

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I am Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows and Linux based IT Support, laptop repairs and computer repairs to both business and personal clients in Stirling, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire.

For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find a list of my services, testimonials, blog and much more!!

 

 

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