Google unveiled an updated web version of its Gmail software on April 25 and is gradually rolling out the new features and visual redesign to regular and business users. If your account has not been updated yet (or you chose not to try out the new version when first offered), click on the gear-shaped Settings icon and choose “Try the new Gmail” at the top of the menu. In addition to a revamped look that sports bigger buttons and menus, the update adds features intended to help you manage your mail.

If you still have the old version of Gmail (or skipped the first invitation to try the update), click the Settings icon to get your chance to try out the service’s new look and features.

One of these new tools is the “nudge” feature, which uses algorithms to track messages you have not yet returned to your regular correspondents after a few days — and moves those unanswered messages to the top of your inbox with a gentle reminder to reply. (If you find this sort of software-based intervention creepy, you can turn off the nudge action in the Gmail settings.)

If you use the Gmail or Inbox by Gmail mobile apps, you will recognize the Smart Reply feature, which supplies short, canned phrases to send as responses to certain messages. The web version adopts the Snooze optionfor postponing attention to a message, too. Google’s calendar, notes and tasks apps also appear in the mail window for easy access.

Google has also stepped up Gmail’s security, with bigger warnings about suspicious messages. If you are sending sensitive information, you can also use the new Confidential mode by clicking the padlock-and-clock icon at the bottom of the new message window. By using the options in the Confidential mode, you can require a passcode sent to your recipient’s phone in order to open the message — and then have the message disappear in a day, a week, a month, three months or five years.

With every latest update in a product or a new product, Microsoft ends the previous product. This year, it is the End of Life for Office 2007. It is nothing but Microsoft will end the support for Office 2007 on October 10, 2017. Hence, Microsoft advises all the current users of Office 2007 to upgrade Office 365 or ProPlus. Microsoft has published a complete guide on the roadmap of End of Life for Office 2007 and also how to upgrade it to Office 365 and Office 365 ProPlus.

End of Life for Office 2007

End of Life for Office 2007 is nothing but the end of support for this product by Microsoft. Hence, users will not receive any patches or updates for Office 2007 after October 10, 2017. As a result, using Office 2007 may leave users’ computers vulnerable to errors as well as security threats.

Most of the Microsoft products have a support lifecycle of 10 years. Thus, Office 2007 too received new features, bug fixes, security fixes and various other updates during these 10 years. The end of this lifecycle is typically known as End of Life. The End of Life for Office 2007 will be October 10, 2017.

After the End of Life for Office 2007, Microsoft will not provide:

  • Technical support for issues
  • Bug fixes for issues that are discovered
  • Security fixes for vulnerabilities that are discovered

Besides this, currently, there are several Outlook 2007 clients that are using Office 365. From October 31, 2017; these clients too won’t be able to connect to Office 365 mailboxes. Hence, Outlook 2007 clients using Office 365 will not be able to receive and send mail.

So what should you do?

Before the End of Life for Office 2007, users are recommended to follow one of these steps:

  • Upgrade to Office 365 ProPlus, the subscription version of Office that comes with many Office 365 plans.
  • Upgrade to Office 2016, which is sold as a one-time purchase and available for one computer per license.
  • Upgrade to an earlier version of Office, such as Office 2013.

As Microsoft mentions, Office 365 is the subscription plan that includes access to Office applications and other cloud services, including Skype for BusinessExchange Online, and OneDrive for Business. On the other hand, Office 365 ProPlus is the version of Office that comes with many Office 365 plans. It includes the full versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher, Access, and Skype for Business installed on your client computers. As the End of Life for Office 2007 is nearing and only a couple of months are left, users are advised to upgrade as soon as possible.

Immediate benefits can be gained by outsourcing IT services through Managed Services.

1. Control IT Costs

Outsourcing converts fixed IT costs into variable costs and allows you budget effectively. In other words, only pay for what you use when you need it.

2. Reduce Labor Costs

Hiring and training an IT staff can be very expensive, and temporary employees don’t always live up to your expectations. Outsourcing lets you focus your human resources where you need them most.

3. Trained, Experienced, Qualified, Certified.

If you’re not IT trained, how do you assure an employee is qualified? Certifications like Microsoft Certified Systems Enginner (MCSE) are important, but so is experience.

4. Qualified doesn’t Equal Experienced

Few problems are new for leading IT service companies, which see related problems multiple times. An in-house IT employee leads an isolated existence no matter how much they train. We’d all rather an experienced doctor; the same is true for IT.

5. Increase Efficiency and Competitiveness

Organizations that try to do all IT Services in-house themselves can have much higher research, development, and implementation time, all of which increase costs and are ultimately passed on to customers.

6. Quickly Implement New Technology

A quality outsourced IT service organization will have the resources to start new projects right away. Handling the same project in-house might involve weeks or months to hire the right people, train them, and provide the support they need. For most implementations, quality IT companies will bring years of experience in the beginning saving time and money.

7. Stay Focused on Your Core Business

Businesses have limited resources, and every manager has limited time and attention. Outsourcing can help your business stay focused on your core business and not get distracted by complex IT decisions.

8. Reduce risk

Every business investment carries a certain amount of risk. Markets, competition, government regulations, financial conditions, and technologies all change very quickly. Outsourcing providers assume and manage much of this risk for you, with specific industry knowledge, especially security and compliance issues. They generally are much better at deciding how to avoid risk in their areas of expertise.

9. Level the Playing Field

Most small businesses can’t afford to match the in-house support services that larger companies maintain. Outsourcing can help small companies act “big” by giving them access to the similar technology, and expertise that large companies enjoy. An independent third party managed cost structure and economy of scale can give your company a competitive advantage.

10. Compliance and Security

Is your firewall up to date? Do you have a DMZ installed? Do you audit your Workstations and Servers? Has your company implemented PCI security standards and work to maintain those standards? For example, Businesses have more ways than ever to prosper by taking many forms of payments such as Credit and Debit Cards, Gift Certificates, E-Checks, Wire Transfers to name a few, but with these forms of transacting also comes the need for due diligence. By outsourcing a qualified Manages Services company who is familiar with PCI Compliance standards, you can rest assured that your company is minimizing the risks associated with maintaining client data, credit card numbers, sensitive competitive information and more.

Get in Touch today to discuss outsourcing your IT Services

Microsoft Windows Vista – Extended Support Ending April 11, 2017.

Many Windows users remember the end of extended support for Windows XP in April 2014.  Likewise, Windows Vista is scheduled to meet its life cycle end in April of 2017.   The Vista operating system has an interesting life span.  Its introduction, in early 2007 was designed to replace the popular Windows XP.   Vista design included improvements in graphics, networking and security over its predecessor.  However, it drew criticism for its heavy resource requirements, restrictions for the copying of protected digital media, longer boot times as well as other issues.  As as result, its satisfaction and initial adoption rates were lower than those of Windows XP.

Our analysis shows the current installed base percentages for each of the major Microsoft Windows operating systems.  Vista usage represents a fairly small percentage, 4%,  of the total Windows installed base.

What should you do if you have Windows Vista?

If you are still using Vista, you don’t have to do anything.  Just as the Windows XP end of extended support came and went in 2014, your Vista operating system will continue to work after April 2017.   Be aware that Microsoft won’t be generating any updates or security patches after support is discontinued.  If you are a satisfied Vista user, continue to use it.  We recommend that you have a good security product (like ESET Internet Security) and that you maintain proper backups.  However, if you are ready for an OS update take a look at Windows 10.  You may like it.

SEO is the acronym for Search Engine Optimization. It’s the practice of optimizing websites to make them reach a high position in Google’s – or another search engine’s – search results. SEO focuses on rankings in the organic (non-paid) search results. In this post, I’ll answer the question “What is SEO?”.

The majority of your potential customers search for your services using Google or Bing search engines.  If your website is not on page 1 and not in the top 3 to 5 results then they are unlikely to choose your website and contact you.  SOE increases your ranking on Google or Bing so you are on pgae 1 and in the top 3 to 5 results.

Google’s algorithm

In order to make web pages appear in high positions in the search results, SEO tries to shape a website according to Google’s algorithm. Although Google’s algorithm remains secret, over a decade of experience in SEO has resulted in a pretty good idea about the important factors.

The factors in Google’s algorithm can be divided into two categories, which determine the ranking of your website together:

1 On-page SEO factors

On-page SEO factors are all the things you can influence on your own website. All kinds of technical aspects of your website are important for the chances of your website to rank in the search engines. WordPress actually is a rather SEO-friendly platform. Combined with our Yoast SEO plugin, most technical challenges are covered.

The structure of your website, your site speed and the content of your site are other important on-page SEO factors.

2 Off-page SEO factors

Next to on-page SEO factors, there are off-page SEO factors. These off-page SEO factors are a bit more difficult to influence, though. The most important off-page factor are the links to your site. The more (relevant) sites link to your website, the higher your ranking in Google will be.

Another off-page factor is the competition or the niche of your specific website. In some niches, it is much harder to rank, than in other niches. The competitiveness of your market therefore also has a large influence on your chances to rank.

Be the best result!

Being the best result means focusing on technical excellence, great User Experience, flawless website security, and really awesome content. You should focus on all the aspects of website optimization in order to be the best result.

If you have a WordPress website then a great plug-in to check your page SEO score is Yoast SEO Plug-in.  Their blog also has some great free information that explains SOE covering many topics.  You can also engage a company that specialises in SOE that can modify your website content but this can be expensive, around $600 per month.

Conveniently placed just before the day they can say “dont be an April Fool”, World Backup Day is actually a thing! The accompanying web site may seem really condescending, but you’d be amazed at just how many people still don’t get it!

With all the crazy and bewildering ways your data is at risk these days (forget viruses – they’re so last century!) it’s now utterly imperative that you protect your data (and your clients!)

To ensure World Backup Day gets the credit that it deserves we are offering FREE BACKUP AUDITS to home and small business. That’s right, we’ll come to your business (or home) and analyse your current backup regime. We’ll even offer ways to improve your current strategy, based on your usage, the type of data you have, and its criticality to the smooth running of your business!

See our related blog post, A Quick Guide to Backing Up Your Critical Data, for tips on backing up all your devices.

Simply put, cloud computing is computing based on the internet. Where in the past, people would run applications or programs from software downloaded on a physical computer or server in their building, cloud computing allows people access to the same kinds of applications through the internet.

When you update your Facebook status, you’re using cloud computing. Checking your bank balance on your phone? You’re in the cloud again. Chances are you rely on cloud computing to solve the challenges faced by small businesses, whether you’re firing off emails on the move or using a bunch of apps to help you manage your workload.

In short, cloud is fast becoming the new normal. By the end of 2015 it’s estimated that 90% of UK businesses will be using at least one cloud service.

Why are so many businesses moving to the cloud? It’s because cloud computing increases efficiency, helps improve cash flow and offers many more benefits…Check out ten of the best below.

1. Flexibility

Cloud-based services are ideal for businesses with growing or fluctuating bandwidth demands. If your needs increase it’s easy to scale up your cloud capacity, drawing on the service’s remote servers. Likewise, if you need to scale down again, the flexibility is baked into the service. This level of agility can give businesses using cloud computing a real advantage over competitors – it’s not surprising that CIOs and IT Directors rank ‘operational agility’ as a top driver for cloud adoption.

2. Disaster recovery

Businesses of all sizes should be investing in robust disaster recovery, but for smaller businesses that lack the required cash and expertise, this is often more an ideal than the reality. Cloud is now helping more organisations buck that trend. According to Aberdeen Group, small businesses are twice as likely as larger companies to have implemented cloud-based backup and recovery solutions that save time, avoid large up-front investment and roll up third-party expertise as part of the deal.

3. Automatic software updates

The beauty of cloud computing is that the servers are off-premise, out of sight and out of your hair. Suppliers take care of them for you and roll out regular software updates – including security updates – so you don’t have to worry about wasting time maintaining the system yourself. Leaving you free to focus on the things that matter, like growing your business.

4. Capital-expenditure Free

Cloud computing cuts out the high cost of hardware. You simply pay as you go and enjoy a subscription-based model that’s kind to your cash flow. Add to that the ease of setup and management and suddenly your scary, hairy IT project looks at lot friendlier. It’s never been easier to take the first step to cloud adoption.

5. Increased collaboration

When your teams can access, edit and share documents anytime, from anywhere, they’re able to do more together, and do it better. Cloud-based workflow and file sharing apps help them make updates in real time and gives them full visibility of their collaborations.

6. Work from anywhere

With cloud computing, if you’ve got an internet connection you can be at work. And with most serious cloud services offering mobile apps, you’re not restricted by which device you’ve got to hand.

The result? Businesses can offer more flexible working perks to employees so they can enjoy the work-life balance that suits them – without productivity taking a hit. One study reported that 42% of workers would swap a portion of their pay for the ability to telecommute. On average they’d be willing to take a 6% pay cut.

7. Document control

The more employees and partners collaborate on documents, the greater the need for watertight document control. Before the cloud, workers had to send files back and forth as email attachments to be worked on by one user at a time. Sooner or later – usually sooner – you end up with a mess of conflicting file content, formats and titles.

And as even the smallest companies become more global, the scope for complication rises. According to one study, “73% of knowledge workers collaborate with people in different time zones and regions at least monthly”.

When you make the move to cloud computing, all files are stored centrally and everyone sees one version of the truth. Greater visibility means improved collaboration, which ultimately means better work and a healthier bottom line. If you’re still relying on the old way, it could be time to try something a little more streamlined.

8. Security

Lost laptops are a billion dollar business problem. And potentially greater than the loss of an expensive piece of kit is the loss of the sensitive data inside it. Cloud computing gives you greater security when this happens. Because your data is stored in the cloud, you can access it no matter what happens to your machine. And you can even remotely wipe data from lost laptops so it doesn’t get into the wrong hands.

9. Competitiveness

Wish there was a simple step you could take to become more competitive? Moving to the cloud gives access to enterprise-class technology, for everyone. It also allows smaller businesses to act faster than big, established competitors. Pay-as-you-go service and cloud business applications mean small outfits can run with the big boys, and disrupt the market, while remaining lean and nimble. David now packs a Goliath-sized punch.

10. Environmentally friendly

While the above points spell out the benefits of cloud computing for your business, moving to the cloud isn’t an entirely selfish act. The environment gets a little love too. When your cloud needs fluctuate, your server capacity scales up and down to fit. So you only use the energy you need and you don’t leave oversized carbon footprints.

Not moved to the cloud yet?

Any three of the above benefits would be enough to convince many businesses to move their business into the cloud. But when you add up all ten? It’s approaching no-brainer territory.

We have partnerships with the major cloud service providers so Get in Touch today to discuss your move to the cloud.

For small business startups, investing in a customer relationship management (CRM) system might seem like overkill. After all, it’s easy enough to manually keep track of customers and sales when you’re small.

But, as you grow, it can be difficult to stay on top of your sales process by just using spreadsheets. You want a single program that allows you to track new leads, match them with suitable products and follow their progress through the sales cycle. That’s where CRM systems come in.

Get to know your customers

According to Gartner Research, the global value of CRM systems will hit AU$51.5 billion in 2017. That’s a lot of money! For every dollar businesses spend on CRM software, they receive AU$7.90 back in cost savings, increased productivity and improved customer engagement.

CRM systems do this by gathering data about customers, sales and products, and making it easy to access. IT doesnt have to stress your IT budget either, as there are a range of cloud-based CRM systems becoming very affordable.

For success in today’s competitive business world, you need to connect with your customers and spread the word about your business. A CRM system can help you do just that, so check out what’s on offer to get your business humming.

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