Microsoft 365 update channels: What you need to know

Many businesses using Microsoft 365 prefer to have the latest versions of the productivity suite’s applications. Some businesses prefer to get updates as soon as they become available, while others prefer to update their systems on a predictable schedule. Fortunately, Microsoft’s update channels enable businesses to customize when they receive apps’ new features.

New update channel: Microsoft Enterprise Channel

The new Microsoft Enterprise Channel is for organizations that prefer to get updates on a predictable schedule. With this update channel, users can receive new features and patches on the second Tuesday of every month, which Microsoft famously calls Patch Tuesdays.

This update channel is ideal for companies with IT departments that want to reduce the burden of updating systems at irregular intervals. This will allow them to have a fixed schedule of downloading the latest productivity features, system improvements, and essential security patches.

Recommended update channel: Current Channel

Current Channel is great for companies that want to receive feature updates as soon as they become available. New Office features are released at least two or three times a month, so those that choose Current Channel will get them immediately.

The same applies to non-security updates such as reliability and performance improvements, which are also released two to three times a month. As standard, security updates will be released on Patch Tuesdays, and are therefore released on a fixed schedule.

Those who are only about to install Microsoft 365 apps will be on Current Channel by default. That means they’ll get feature updates, security updates, quality updates, and bug fixes whenever they’re ready, and can expect to receive two to three updates every month.

Option for less frequent updates: Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel

This option is for organizations that require a longer period to receive new features. This especially applies to those that use devices that must undergo extensive testing before receiving new features, perhaps to comply with governmental and regulatory authorities or for other unique reasons.

Under this update channel, organizations receive feature updates twice annually: in January and July, on the second Tuesday of the month. Security updates are still sent once a month, on Patch Tuesdays, similar to Microsoft Enterprise Channel and Current Channel.

Updates to existing update channels

Another important change is the new names of the Microsoft 365 update channels. Organizations can choose from the following options: Current, Monthly, or Semi-Annual (formerly Insider, Monthly, and Semi-Annual). In addition, testing channels previously labeled Targeted have been renamed Preview.

It’s important to select the right update channel for your organization to keep system updates streamlined and IT workflows uninterrupted. Choosing an update channel also depends on the user preferences of your business — whether they’d rather use the latest versions of their apps or would be fine to wait — as well as your business’s rules on compliance.

To learn more about Microsoft’s update channels, specifically, how to know which one’s best for your company and how to optimize your productivity apps, call our IT and software experts today.

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Should you adopt the cloud during COVID-19?

With the COVID-19 pandemic, many business owners are cutting costs and jeopardizing their organization’s efficiency as a result. If you want to avoid this outcome, you should invest in cloud technology. The cloud will not just help you save money, but it will also help your business run more efficiently.

Ensuring continuity and efficiency with the cloud

The need to stay at home and practice social distancing have changed the way many businesses operate. With their employees unable to come to the office, organizations are forced to function with a remote team whose members are often miles away from each other.

This is where cloud technology helps. When you migrate your data to the cloud, your files are stored in a centralized server that can be accessed via the internet. So as long as a user has an internet-connected device (like a smartphone or laptop) and has the right login credentials, they can access these files from any location.

The cloud also allows multiple users to work on a single file at the same time. Any change to the file is seen in real-time, which makes it feel like team members are collaborating in the same room.

Moreover, with cloud-based communication tools like Slack, your team can communicate with each other through chat, voice calls, and video conferencing. By incorporating these technologies into your processes, your organization can function efficiently while following social distancing protocols.

Saving money with the cloud

Suddenly adopting a remote work setup after years of strictly on-site operations can take a lot of getting used to. One of the most difficult parts of transitioning is making sure you and your staff have the right hardware and software to perform work-related tasks.

Instead of buying hardware with company funds and issuing these machines to your staff, you can have them use their personal laptop computers and mobile devices instead. With this tactic, however, you’re not sure if your employees’ devices have the appropriate specifications to handle their workload.

If you use special software, you may also have to buy and install them on your staff’s personal devices. In short, whether you issue computers or adopt a bring your own device approach, you’re bound to spend a lot of money to facilitate remote work.

But with cloud computing, you won’t need to buy new hardware. You can host your applications on the cloud, enabling a user to run them through a web browser even if they are not installed in his or her device. And because hosted applications use the cloud provider’s resources, they don’t strain user’s devices and can be used even with older or lower-end computers.

Furthermore, hosting applications on the cloud eliminates the need to install programs in each of your staff’s devices. This is particularly helpful if the software you use has a limit on the number of devices it can be installed on. This way, you save money by not having to invest in newer devices for your staff and wasting time locally downloading the software.

Should you migrate to the cloud now?

The short answer is yes. Thanks to the COVID-19 lockdowns, the ability to work remotely has now become essential to a business’s survival. And the cloud easily facilitates a remote work environment.

See for yourself how the cloud lets you continue doing business even in the middle of a pandemic. Contact us today to get started!

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How the cloud helps businesses survive COVID-19

Many businesses have been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. If you want your business to survive and maintain its operational efficiency, then you need to invest in the right technology. Investing in the cloud will ensure business continuity while helping you save money.

Ensuring continuity and efficiency with the cloud

The need to stay at home and practice social distancing have changed the way many businesses operate. With their employees unable to come to the office, organizations are forced to function with a remote team whose members are often miles away from each other.

This is where cloud technology helps. When you migrate your data to the cloud, your files are stored in a centralized server that can be accessed via the internet. So as long as a user has an internet-connected device (like a smartphone or laptop) and has the right login credentials, they can access these files from any location.

The cloud also allows multiple users to work on a single file at the same time. Any change to the file is seen in real-time, which makes it feel like team members are collaborating in the same room.

Moreover, with cloud-based communication tools like Slack, your team can communicate with each other through chat, voice calls, and video conferencing. By incorporating these technologies into your processes, your organization can function efficiently while following social distancing protocols.

Saving money with the cloud

Suddenly adopting a remote work setup after years of strictly on-site operations can take a lot of getting used to. One of the most difficult parts of transitioning is making sure you and your staff have the right hardware and software to perform work-related tasks.

Instead of buying hardware with company funds and issuing these machines to your staff, you can have them use their personal laptop computers and mobile devices instead. With this tactic, however, you’re not sure if your employees’ devices have the appropriate specifications to handle their workload.

If you use special software, you may also have to buy and install them on your staff’s personal devices. In short, whether you issue computers or adopt a bring your own device approach, you’re bound to spend a lot of money to facilitate remote work.

But with cloud computing, you won’t need to buy new hardware. You can host your applications on the cloud, enabling a user to run them through a web browser even if they are not installed in his or her device. And because hosted applications use the cloud provider’s resources, they don’t strain user’s devices and can be used even with older or lower-end computers.

Furthermore, hosting applications on the cloud eliminates the need to install programs in each of your staff’s devices. This is particularly helpful if the software you use has a limit on the number of devices it can be installed on. This way, you save money by not having to invest in newer devices for your staff and wasting time locally downloading the software.

Should you migrate to the cloud now?

The short answer is yes. Thanks to the COVID-19 lockdowns, the ability to work remotely has now become essential to a business’s survival. And the cloud easily facilitates a remote work environment.

See for yourself how the cloud lets you continue doing business even in the middle of a pandemic. Contact us today to get started!

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Why you need the cloud in the middle of COVID-19

With the COVID-19 lockdowns forcing most economic sectors to slow down, cloud technology can help your business survive and remain competitive. More specifically, you can cut costs and increase operational efficiency using the cloud.

Ensuring continuity and efficiency with the cloud

The need to stay at home and practice social distancing have changed the way many businesses operate. With their employees unable to come to the office, organizations are forced to function with a remote team whose members are often miles away from each other.

This is where cloud technology helps. When you migrate your data to the cloud, your files are stored in a centralized server that can be accessed via the internet. So as long as a user has an internet-connected device (like a smartphone or laptop) and has the right login credentials, they can access these files from any location.

The cloud also allows multiple users to work on a single file at the same time. Any change to the file is seen in real-time, which makes it feel like team members are collaborating in the same room.

Moreover, with cloud-based communication tools like Slack, your team can communicate with each other through chat, voice calls, and video conferencing. By incorporating these technologies into your processes, your organization can function efficiently while following social distancing protocols.

Saving money with the cloud

Suddenly adopting a remote work setup after years of strictly on-site operations can take a lot of getting used to. One of the most difficult parts of transitioning is making sure you and your staff have the right hardware and software to perform work-related tasks.

Instead of buying hardware with company funds and issuing these machines to your staff, you can have them use their personal laptop computers and mobile devices instead. With this tactic, however, you’re not sure if your employees’ devices have the appropriate specifications to handle their workload.

If you use special software, you may also have to buy and install them on your staff’s personal devices. In short, whether you issue computers or adopt a bring your own device approach, you’re bound to spend a lot of money to facilitate remote work.

But with cloud computing, you won’t need to buy new hardware. You can host your applications on the cloud, enabling a user to run them through a web browser even if they are not installed in his or her device. And because hosted applications use the cloud provider’s resources, they don’t strain user’s devices and can be used even with older or lower-end computers.

Furthermore, hosting applications on the cloud eliminates the need to install programs in each of your staff’s devices. This is particularly helpful if the software you use has a limit on the number of devices it can be installed on. This way, you save money by not having to invest in newer devices for your staff and wasting time locally downloading the software.

Should you migrate to the cloud now?

The short answer is yes. Thanks to the COVID-19 lockdowns, the ability to work remotely has now become essential to a business’s survival. And the cloud easily facilitates a remote work environment.

See for yourself how the cloud lets you continue doing business even in the middle of a pandemic. Contact us today to get started!

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The importance of having a business continuity plan (BCP)

Many small- to medium-sized business (SMB) owners never expect a major crisis to hit their company and are often caught flat-footed when it does. Such events can cause downtime, which can lead to lost revenue and reduced profits. In addition, SMBs that fail to recover quickly from disruption face the risk of losing their customers to their competitors. To prevent this from happening to you, you should have a BCP in place.

What is a BCP?

A BCP is a predefined set of protocols on how your business should respond in the event of an emergency or natural disaster. It contains contingency plans for every aspect of your organization, including human resources, assets, and business processes.

Key threats to business continuity

Various types of threats can affect SMBs such as:

Natural disasters – These are natural phenomena such as storms, earthquakes, and wildfires.
Man-made disasters – These include cyberattacks, intentional sabotage, and human negligence.
Equipment and utility failures – These include unexpected power failure, internet downtime, and disruption of communication services.

How to build an effective BCP

If your organization does not have a BCP in place, now is a good time to put one together. These steps will help you formulate an effective BCP that will ensure your company keeps running even during a major crisis.

#1 Business impact analysis (BIA)

A BIA will help you determine how a disruption can affect your company’s current functions and processes, such as personnel, equipment, technology, and physical infrastructure. This step will help you calculate the potential financial and operational loss from each function and process affected.

#2 Recovery options

This step will help you identify key resources essential to returning your business to minimum operational levels. Some recovery options you can take include letting employees work from home or operating from a secondary location.

#3 Plan development

This step involves assembling your company’s continuity team, which will be responsible for developing and implementing your BCP.

#4 Testing and training

Once your BCP is in place, your continuity team needs to perform regular tests to identify gaps and make necessary changes to ensure the plan’s effectiveness. They also need to conduct regular training for your employees so everyone knows their respective roles when a disaster strikes.

Having a foolproof BCP is a great way to ensure your business can quickly bounce back after a major disaster. If you’re thinking about creating a BCP for your company but don’t know where to start, give us a call today.

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Does your company have a business continuity plan (BCP)?

Do you know why some small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) succeed while others fail during the first five years of operation? Poor leadership is one reason, the lack of capital is another. Another big reason is they didn’t prepare for major disruptions, such as natural disasters and cyberattacks, that can bring their business to a grinding halt. This is why you need a BCP.

What is a BCP?

A BCP is a predefined set of protocols on how your business should respond in the event of an emergency or natural disaster. It contains contingency plans for every aspect of your organization, including human resources, assets, and business processes.

Key threats to business continuity

Various types of threats can affect SMBs such as:

Natural disasters – These are natural phenomena such as storms, earthquakes, and wildfires.
Man-made disasters – These include cyberattacks, intentional sabotage, and human negligence.
Equipment and utility failures – These include unexpected power failure, internet downtime, and disruption of communication services.

How to build an effective BCP

If your organization does not have a BCP in place, now is a good time to put one together. These steps will help you formulate an effective BCP that will ensure your company keeps running even during a major crisis.

#1 Business impact analysis (BIA)

A BIA will help you determine how a disruption can affect your company’s current functions and processes, such as personnel, equipment, technology, and physical infrastructure. This step will help you calculate the potential financial and operational loss from each function and process affected.

#2 Recovery options

This step will help you identify key resources essential to returning your business to minimum operational levels. Some recovery options you can take include letting employees work from home or operating from a secondary location.

#3 Plan development

This step involves assembling your company’s continuity team, which will be responsible for developing and implementing your BCP.

#4 Testing and training

Once your BCP is in place, your continuity team needs to perform regular tests to identify gaps and make necessary changes to ensure the plan’s effectiveness. They also need to conduct regular training for your employees so everyone knows their respective roles when a disaster strikes.

Having a foolproof BCP is a great way to ensure your business can quickly bounce back after a major disaster. If you’re thinking about creating a BCP for your company but don’t know where to start, give us a call today.

Posted in Business, General Articles B | Tagged , , , , | Comments closed

Why your SMB needs a business continuity plan (BCP)

Multiple things can disrupt the operations of small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), such as natural disasters or cyberattacks. This can lead to lost revenue, or in some extreme cases, business closure. But having a concrete business continuity plan (BCP) in place will help your business recover quickly after a disaster.

What is a BCP?

A BCP is a predefined set of protocols on how your business should respond in the event of an emergency or natural disaster. It contains contingency plans for every aspect of your organization, including human resources, assets, and business processes.

Key threats to business continuity

Various types of threats can affect SMBs such as:

Natural disasters – These are natural phenomena such as storms, earthquakes, and wildfires.
Man-made disasters – These include cyberattacks, intentional sabotage, and human negligence.
Equipment and utility failures – These include unexpected power failure, internet downtime, and disruption of communication services.

How to build an effective BCP

If your organization does not have a BCP in place, now is a good time to put one together. These steps will help you formulate an effective BCP that will ensure your company keeps running even during a major crisis.

#1 Business impact analysis (BIA)

A BIA will help you determine how a disruption can affect your company’s current functions and processes, such as personnel, equipment, technology, and physical infrastructure. This step will help you calculate the potential financial and operational loss from each function and process affected.

#2 Recovery options

This step will help you identify key resources essential to returning your business to minimum operational levels. Some recovery options you can take include letting employees work from home or operating from a secondary location.

#3 Plan development

This step involves assembling your company’s continuity team, which will be responsible for developing and implementing your BCP.

#4 Testing and training

Once your BCP is in place, your continuity team needs to perform regular tests to identify gaps and make necessary changes to ensure the plan’s effectiveness. They also need to conduct regular training for your employees so everyone knows their respective roles when a disaster strikes.

Having a foolproof BCP is a great way to ensure your business can quickly bounce back after a major disaster. If you’re thinking about creating a BCP for your company but don’t know where to start, give us a call today.

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An overview of the May 2020 Windows 10 update

Microsoft keeps to its commitment to innovation, function, and form with its latest iteration of Windows 10, coming out in the last week of May 2020. Security patches and critical system updates come as standard, but users can also expect quite a few more changes to the operating system.
The Windows 10 update will roll out on May 26–28, 2020 and will bring about a fresher look for the world’s most popular operating system. Aside from updates to Windows 10’s interface, here are some functionality improvements you can expect.

The update — named Windows 10 20H1/Windows 10 version 2004 — will feature some performance-enhancing upgrades and an initial rollout of new designs. These are aimed to unify Windows applications with those used on mobile devices and the like.

Fluent Design

Fluent Design is an open-source, cross-platform design system that developers can use to craft multiple-device software and applications. Basically, it helps developers keep their application designs unified across several platforms while enhancing overall aesthetic and user experience.

In the upcoming OS update, users will experience some of the first native releases of Fluent Design-optimized applications, specifically Microsoft Office applications, Microsoft Store, Paint, and more. Expect to see refreshed icons and interfaces of your favorite Microsoft apps. Users will also notice that the new designs will stay uniform from platform to platform, whether they use it on a PC, Mac, or other operating systems.

Cortana migration

Users will also notice changes to the Start Menu — Cortana will no longer be docked to the start button, and the new design will feature new ways to interact with Microsoft’s digital assistant. Text-based chat interaction will now be available as well.

Microsoft is in the process of making Cortana into a personal productivity assistant for Microsoft 365 applications, so most of its new processing powers will revolve around improving the 365 experience for users. The update also brings about improved smart prompts that let the virtual assistant type out and send emails, adjust computer settings, open apps, and schedule events via voice commands.

Windows Search

Microsoft is constantly finding ways to improve its Search tool for Windows 10. In this update, users will experience improved indexing and search speeds, as well as a smart indexing feature that limits activity to off-peak hours so that it doesn’t disrupt daily use. This will result in faster performance for laptops of all levels, especially those that still utilize HDD storage.

Where to download

Users can download the feature update via Windows Update, a built-in tool in existing Windows 10 systems. You can access this by clicking Start > Settings > Windows Update. You can also type Windows Update on the search bar (beside the Windows button on the lower-left corner of the screen) and follow the easy instructions.

If you opted for automatic updates, all you’ll have to do is sit back and wait. For manual updates, you’ll need to click on Check for Updates. Users can also get it through the Windows Insider Program. Simply go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Insider Program and click on Get Started.

Call us today for all your Office 365 needs. We’ll help you get set up in no time.

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The latest Windows 10 updates you need to know

Microsoft will roll out the latest Windows 10 update for free before the end of May 2020. Expect improvements to the operating system’s overall look and feel, thanks to some design refreshes and functionality enhancements.
The Windows 10 update will roll out on May 26–28, 2020 and will bring about a fresher look for the world’s most popular operating system. Aside from updates to Windows 10’s interface, here are some functionality improvements you can expect.

The update — named Windows 10 20H1/Windows 10 version 2004 — will feature some performance-enhancing upgrades and an initial rollout of new designs. These are aimed to unify Windows applications with those used on mobile devices and the like.

Fluent Design

Fluent Design is an open-source, cross-platform design system that developers can use to craft multiple-device software and applications. Basically, it helps developers keep their application designs unified across several platforms while enhancing overall aesthetic and user experience.

In the upcoming OS update, users will experience some of the first native releases of Fluent Design-optimized applications, specifically Microsoft Office applications, Microsoft Store, Paint, and more. Expect to see refreshed icons and interfaces of your favorite Microsoft apps. Users will also notice that the new designs will stay uniform from platform to platform, whether they use it on a PC, Mac, or other operating systems.

Cortana migration

Users will also notice changes to the Start Menu — Cortana will no longer be docked to the start button, and the new design will feature new ways to interact with Microsoft’s digital assistant. Text-based chat interaction will now be available as well.

Microsoft is in the process of making Cortana into a personal productivity assistant for Microsoft 365 applications, so most of its new processing powers will revolve around improving the 365 experience for users. The update also brings about improved smart prompts that let the virtual assistant type out and send emails, adjust computer settings, open apps, and schedule events via voice commands.

Windows Search

Microsoft is constantly finding ways to improve its Search tool for Windows 10. In this update, users will experience improved indexing and search speeds, as well as a smart indexing feature that limits activity to off-peak hours so that it doesn’t disrupt daily use. This will result in faster performance for laptops of all levels, especially those that still utilize HDD storage.

Where to download

Users can download the feature update via Windows Update, a built-in tool in existing Windows 10 systems. You can access this by clicking Start > Settings > Windows Update. You can also type Windows Update on the search bar (beside the Windows button on the lower-left corner of the screen) and follow the easy instructions.

If you opted for automatic updates, all you’ll have to do is sit back and wait. For manual updates, you’ll need to click on Check for Updates. Users can also get it through the Windows Insider Program. Simply go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Insider Program and click on Get Started.

Call us today for all your Office 365 needs. We’ll help you get set up in no time.

Posted in General Articles B, Windows | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

New Windows 10 update: Things you need to know

The Windows 10 update will roll out on May 26–28, 2020 and will bring about a fresher look for the world’s most popular operating system. Aside from updates to Windows 10’s interface, here are some functionality improvements you can expect.

The update — named Windows 10 20H1/Windows 10 version 2004 — will feature some performance-enhancing upgrades and an initial rollout of new designs. These are aimed to unify Windows applications with those used on mobile devices and the like.

Fluent Design

Fluent Design is an open-source, cross-platform design system that developers can use to craft multiple-device software and applications. Basically, it helps developers keep their application designs unified across several platforms while enhancing overall aesthetic and user experience.

In the upcoming OS update, users will experience some of the first native releases of Fluent Design-optimized applications, specifically Microsoft Office applications, Microsoft Store, Paint, and more. Expect to see refreshed icons and interfaces of your favorite Microsoft apps. Users will also notice that the new designs will stay uniform from platform to platform, whether they use it on a PC, Mac, or other operating systems.

Cortana migration

Users will also notice changes to the Start Menu — Cortana will no longer be docked to the start button, and the new design will feature new ways to interact with Microsoft’s digital assistant. Text-based chat interaction will now be available as well.

Microsoft is in the process of making Cortana into a personal productivity assistant for Microsoft 365 applications, so most of its new processing powers will revolve around improving the 365 experience for users. The update also brings about improved smart prompts that let the virtual assistant type out and send emails, adjust computer settings, open apps, and schedule events via voice commands.

Windows Search

Microsoft is constantly finding ways to improve its Search tool for Windows 10. In this update, users will experience improved indexing and search speeds, as well as a smart indexing feature that limits activity to off-peak hours so that it doesn’t disrupt daily use. This will result in faster performance for laptops of all levels, especially those that still utilize HDD storage.

Where to download

Users can download the feature update via Windows Update, a built-in tool in existing Windows 10 systems. You can access this by clicking Start > Settings > Windows Update. You can also type Windows Update on the search bar (beside the Windows button on the lower-left corner of the screen) and follow the easy instructions.

If you opted for automatic updates, all you’ll have to do is sit back and wait. For manual updates, you’ll need to click on Check for Updates. Users can also get it through the Windows Insider Program. Simply go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Insider Program and click on Get Started.

Call us today for all your Office 365 needs. We’ll help you get set up in no time.

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