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Microsoft’s big gamble


Ever since the iPhone was released back in 2008 people have wondered when Microsoft would port its productivity suite Microsoft Office to it.  For years Microsoft relented, that is until now.

Yesterday I came across an article on the internet stating that Microsoft was releasing a copy of Microsoft Office for the iPhone.  It is not the version of Office that most people know of (ie desktop) but instead you get Office 365, the monthly subscription version.  Basically you will have to fork out money to Microsoft every month to use it but that is they way their pricing structure has gone so no surprises there.

What is surprising is that they have ported the Office suite at all.  What I mean by this is that in the consumer market Microsoft is becoming less relevant everyday as PC sales slump and people switch to tablets and smartphones.  Microsoft entered this market late with their Windows 8 tablets but they haven’t sold well (the price hasn’t helpt).

Traditionally if you wanted Microsoft Office then you had to have a computer running Windows.  With Office 365 now available on an iPhone (when will the iPad or Android version appear I wonder?) they are giving consumers even less of a reason to purchase a machine with Windows on it, whether it be a laptop, phone, tablet or desktop PC which is going to hurt their bottom line and lose them market share in general.

In the business environment it is not so clear cut as although businesses are adopting iPads and iPhones into their infrastructure Windows is still firmly entrenched on laptops and desktops.

So what is the thinking behind all this? I am guessing (and it is only a guess) that Microsoft has decided they can increase revenue with Microsoft Office to such an extent that losing market share in the consumer space is acceptable.  Their big gamble is that if these devices start entering the business environment in large enough numbers then their market share in the business environment could start to suffer.  If this happens then Microsoft could be in real trouble but I guess we will have to wait and see what happens.

So what do you think is this a big gamble for Microsoft or a really good business strategy?

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 and around Stirling.

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!!

 

 

 

The world of subscription software

The world is changing people!! Coming to the end are the days when you bought a piece of software which you could call your own and use it as many times as you wanted.  Slowly but surely paying a monthly or yearly subscription for software is becoming the norm.


When Microsoft announced the release of Office 2013 they had slowly but surely moved the goalposts (not in a technical way but a monetary one).  This was the first time that Office was offered on a yearly subscription having always previously been a box set .  Yes you can still buy Office 2013 but not as a disk.  You get access to a download that you can only use on one system whereas the subscription allows you to install on 5 systems (Home Premium) along with a host of features not available if you only bought the download.

It is not only Microsoft that has started charging for a subscription as Google are also at it. Google Apps which was once free (personal use) is now offered on a yearly subscription of $50 whilst Adobe are also charging a subscription for their Creative Suite software like Photoshop.

In the depths of online storage Dropbox, Google Drive and the rest charge a monthly fee if you require more storage space then they offer for free.

So where does this leave the consumer?  To put it blunt out of pocket.  The reason that companies are charging a subscription for their software rather than a one off price is that they can make more money – pure and simple.  Is there anything you can do to mitigate this?

Yes and No.

If you have a copy of Microsoft Office dating back to 2000 – 2010 it will still work for a while yet until Microsoft decides that newer formats will not be compatible and you would have to move over to the subscription model.  You could switch to an opensource productivity suite like Libreoffice which is free and can do almost everything Office can (besides Outlook).  If however you rely on Office in some shape or form you would have to start paying your monthly (Office 365) or yearly (Office 2013) subscription at some point.

It is not all doom and gloom though as subscription software does have its benefits.  You will always be on the most updated software as this would happen automatically and in the case of Microsoft Office (Office 365) and Google Apps you can access it through a browser.  You would also be able to deal with software budgets better as you know how much is spent on a monthly or yearly basis.

At some point though you will be paying (unless you run Linux of course!!).

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 and around Stirling.

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 this the future of mobile computing?

 

Above is an image of my trusty Blackberry Playbook with its new accessory – a bluetooth keyboard.  Now you must be wondering why would I put a keyboard on a tablet?  The answer is productivity.  You see all the tablets on the market at the moment are consumption devices in that you browse the web, use Facebook etc.  Have you ever tried to actually do work on them? It is not easy to be productive on tablets compared to a laptop for example. By adding a keyboard you effectively turn a tablet into a laptop and being productive becomes a lot easier (you can type without losing half the screen which you do with the onscreen keyboard).


So what? You still don’t have the software like Microsoft Office on tablets.

That is correct but that will soon be changing.  Microsoft are in the midst of bringing out the Surface Pro which will run a full version of Windows 8 along with the ability to run Microsoft Office.  By doing this Microsoft is giving the user a clear choice – do your work on a laptop, desktop or a tablet.  If you are able to get the software you use on a daily basis on a tablet you can then use a tablet more productively.  This is the first time that this has happened and it could be a game changer.  When you just want a tablet you disconnect the keyboard but when you want to actually do work then you plug it back in – you are getting the best of both worlds.

If users are taken with the idea of Microsoft Office on a tablet then you might see laptop sales start to suffer (PC sales are still going down anyway) which could seriously hurt companies like Lenovo, Dell and HP.  If however users are not really that bothered then tablets will continue to be used to consume data rather then produce it.

And what about my Playbook? I will probably use it more for consuming data than producing it but at least with its new keyboard I now have the choice.

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

 

Is Microsoft Windows the only way?


Here is a thought for you. Ask your average user what is a computer and there is a good chance the answer will be Windows. You see Windows and computers have become intertwined to such an extent that the average user doesn’t know anything different. Some might know about Mac but here is another one – Linux.

Linux is open source, that is all the code is freely available to anyone who wants it. You can modify it to your hearts content but you must also make your code freely available to anyone else that wants it. This provides a vibrant community where all the best ideas get used and the poorer ones get left at the wayside.

But what about all my applications like Microsoft Office? Linux has literally thousands of applications available. If you use Microsoft Office then try Open Office or AbiWord. If you use Internet Explorer then try Firefox. You see you can accomplish almost everything on Linux that you can on Windows. I say almost everything. For instance ITunes does not work on Linux (I have never been able to get it to work but will stand corrected if someone else can).

So why should you try Linux?

1. It is free. There are no licence fees. You can install Linux as many times as you want without having to pay a fee every time.

2.No Viruses. That is not totally true. There is a miniscule amount of viruses around for Linux but nothing compared to Windows. Most viruses are written for Windows.

3. Customize. You can change almost every part the operating system to suit your own purpose (if you choose) or leave it as it is.

4. It is stable.  You will spend less time fixing your system than you will with Microsoft Windows.

5. Easy to use.  I use Linux Mint 12 which is very stable, easy to use and I would recommend it to anyone as a desktop system.

Check out www.distrowatch.com for all available downloads for Linux. So there you have it. Welcome to the world of Linux.  Why not give it a try?

About the Author

Hi I am Chris the owner of ComTech. I provide IT Support, Laptop repairs and Computer repairs to both personal and business clients in and around Stirling. For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find my blog, testimonials, services and much more.  Start supporting a local business today so I can start supporting you.

If you found this blog useful then why not sign up to my RSS Feed for news, tutorials, views and general techie stuff!!

 

Linux in Business


Is Linux viable in the business environment? Surely it is just a bunch of ‘geeks’ writing software with little support?  We are going to take a look at the business offerings and settle some mis-preconceptions.

Chances are at the moment you work in an environment where the majority (if not all) of your software requirements are met by Microsoft.  What if I could tell you there is another way which would be more secure and cost your company less.  Lets take a look.

Business Linux is primarily the realm of three firms: RedHat, Novell and Canonical.  All three offer solutions for business.  The software is free (ie no licence fee) and you pay for the level of customer support you want through a subscription scheme.

So what sort of software is available?  We shall split this into two categories: server and desktop.

Server Systems

1. Linux File and Print Server

This can be set up on any linux distribution using the samba service (this will be covered as a future topic) and allows Windows / Linux clients to access files and print to a networked printer.  There is no licence fee for any of the software.

2. Active Directory

Linux has quite a few choices in this area.  Two of the best are OpenLDAP and NDS. OpenLDAP allows authentication to Linux clients only but NDS allows cross platform authentication (Windows, Linux, Solaris etc).

3. DHCP and DNS servers

You can set up your own DHCP and DNS servers for your organisation using the dhcp and named daemons (services) on any Linux distribution you want.

4. Firewall

The Smoothwall distribution makes a fantastic stand alone firewall.  So if you have an old computer just sitting around install this distribution on it and you will have a fully functional and effective firewall between your network and the internet.  I use Untangle Gateway for my office it is a wonderful piece of kit.

5. Web Servers

By far and away the most popular Linux web server is Apache.  Most of the web servers running on the internet are actually running some version of Apache.  Again this can be set up on any distribution you want.

Desktop

There are literally thousands of packages available for Linux and all are available to the business user.  We shall take a look at the packages available for the most common tasks: email, web browser and office suite.

1. Evolution email suite

Evolution is a fast, stable and secure alternative to Microsoft Outlook.  It runs on all versions of Linux which use the Gnome desktop.  For KDE use Kontact.

2. Web browers

Either use Firefox or Chrome.  Chrome is the fastest browser on the planet where Firefox is probably the most stable.  Both are good choices for the business environment.

3. Office Suite

Never buy Microsoft Office again.  Instead use Libreoffice.  Libreoffice has all the functionality of Microsoft Office without the price tag.  It is compatible with Microsoft Office too so if user A saves her document in Microsoft Office user B will be able to open it in Libreoffice.

There you have it.  This is just a guide to the possibilities Linux can offer the business user. Before you do decide to move over to Linux check that your mission critical software will run in this environment (use virtual software – covered as a future topic) and bear in mind that your end users might need some form of familiarisation with any new software you implement.

About the Author

Hi I am Chris the owner of ComTech. I provide IT Support, Laptop Repairs and Computer repairs to both personal and business clients in and around Stirling. For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find my blog, testimonials, services and much more.  Start supporting a local business today so I can start supporting you.

If you found this blog useful then why not sign up to my RSS Feed for news, tutorials, views and general techie stuff!!

 

 

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