SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

How to use Windows 10's File History backup feature

Here's how to back up your files with Windows 10's built-in feature, File History.

By Ian Paul

external hard drives 100761623 large

Windows 10’s File History is an easy way to get started with backing up your personal files since it comes built-in to your system.

File History takes snapshots of your files as you go and stores them on an external hard drive either connected over USB or your home network. Over time, File History builds up a library of past versions of your documents that you can recover if need be. Say, for example, you really liked a paragraph from the first draft of an essay, but you deleted it long ago and are now battling regret. You can dip into File History, retrieve the right version of your document, and copy the paragraph.

Windows 10’s File History is an essential part of any PC backup strategy, but it’s only

one part. Ideally, you’d have your files in three places: the working copy on your internal hard drive, a local backup that you can access straight away, and a remote backup that keeps your files safe offsite. That way, if anything ever happens to your house such as a fire, flood, or tornado, the third copy is still safely tucked away in the remote location.

The easiest way to take care of the remote backup is to use an online backup service. We’ve got a separate article dedicated to reviews and purchasing advice for online backup. While you’re at it, check out our look at the best external drives for backup, storage, and portability to get a quality drive for your local File History backups.

To get started with File History in the latest version of Windows 10, open the Settings app and go to Update & Security > Backup.

Read More

Continue reading
2179 Hits

Microsoft Buys Forerunner Software Tech to Boost Power BI Reporting

By: Pedro Hernandez | April 03, 2018

PowerBI 2The acquisition of Forerunner's Mobilizer and Report Viewer will help Microsoft improve Power BI's reporting capabilities for mobile and web apps.

Looking to grow its Power BI business intelligence and data analytics ecosystem, Microsoft went shopping close to home for its latest buy.

Microsoft has acquired enterprise report rendering technologies from fellow Redmond, Wash., technology firm Forerunner Software for an undisclosed amount, the company announced on April 2. Specifically, the software giant has snapped up Forerunner Mobilizer and Report Viewer.

Forerunner Mobilizer enables organizations to turn business insights from Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) into reports that can be viewed on a variety of mobile devices. Forerunner Report Viewer can be used to embed reports derived SSRS into web applications.

The acquisition effectively spells the end of Mobilizer and Report Viewer as commercial products, although Forerunner pledged to provide support to current customers through Oct. 20, 2020. Meanwhile, Microsoft has some big plans for the software.

"This technology includes, among other things, client-side rendering of Reporting Services (*.rdl) reports, responsive UI widgets for viewing reports, and a JavaScript SDK for integrating reports into other apps—a testament to what our partners can achieve building on our open platform," wrote Christopher Finlan, senior program manager for Power BI at Microsoft, in an April 2 blog post.

Forerunner's technology will also help pave the way for SSRS reports in the Power BI service, using client-side rendering capabilities to help deliver the experience, added Finlan. Power BI is Microsoft's cloud-based business intelligence (BI) offering, using the company's public massive public cloud infrastructure to crunch the numbers and generate interactive data visualizations, dashboards and reports.

The deal will also help Microsoft squeeze SSRS reports into smartphones and other mobile devices. Finlan expects the Power BI mobile apps to provide a snappier, more responsive user interface while users await report parameter values and navigate within reports.

Finally, Forerunner's rendering technology will offer developers more options.

The ReportView rendering control from Microsoft is based on ASP.NET Web Forms, explained Finlan. After completing its integration work, his team hopes to deliver a client-side, JavaScript solution that can be integrated "into any modern app," Finlan said.

Microsoft's mission to popularize BI in the workplace goes beyond the typical mobile devices that today's business professionals tote around.

Read More

Continue reading
749 Hits

Microsoft shows IT how to get bigger bang from Windows Analytics

New documentation, still in draft form, details how companies can craft specialized reports and custom alerts from Windows Analytics' data and integrate the data with other info.

By Gregg Keizer

Senior Reporter, Computerworld | Apr 10, 2018 9:19 AM PT

 big data analytics analysis thinkstock 673266772 100749739 large

Microsoft has published preliminary documentation that enterprise IT can use to customize reports generated by the free Windows Analytics service.

The documentation, emblazoned with "Draft," spelled out how internal staff - or Microsoft partners in the business of producing custom solutions - can craft specialized reports and build custom alerts from Windows Analytics' data, and integrate its data with other information for more in-depth analysis.

Windows Analytics is the umbrella label for three separate services - Upgrade Readiness, Update Compliance and Device Heath - which each pull from the telemetry Microsoft collects from Windows PCs. Windows Analytics is a benefit of Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education licensing, and so is available only to customers running those editions.

The services offer insights for devices powered by an Enterprise or Education SKU (stock-selling unit), such as Windows 10 Education or Windows 7 Enterprise.

Of the trio, only Upgrade Readiness harvests data from Windows editions other than Windows 10. As its name implies, that service identifies the Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 PCs most likely to successfully migrate to Windows 10. Upgrade Readiness also pinpoints Windows 10 systems that have the best shot at moving to the next feature upgrade, like this year's 1803 or 1809.

The remaining two services, Update Compliance and Device Health, report the update deployment status of Windows 10 PCs, and monitor and report on some of the most common problems on an organization's devices, respectively.

While IT administrators can generate reports from the Windows Analytics dashboard, the advanced functionality can be accessed using the now-documented APIs (application programming interfaces) and called with the ready-to-use examples (or PowerBI templates). Or the examples and templates can be rigged to do custom jobs.

"There is also an underlying data platform that can be used by IT admins, partners and ISVs [independent software vendors] to extend the built-in functionality and unlock additional value," the documentation says.

Because Windows Analytics' data is stored in Azure Log Analytics, using the API requires knowledge of the underlying Analytics data schema, and knowing how to retrieve that data from Azure Log Analytics, Microsoft said.

Customers who do create custom reports or alerts, or merge Windows Analytics' data with their own, will have to redo that work down the road, Microsoft noted. "Disclaimer: This [data] schema is subject to change as breaking changes will be introduced in the next year, so any queries you create will need to be forward ported at that time," the documentation said.


Read More

Continue reading
1924 Hits

Microsoft PowerPoint vs. Google Slides: Which works better for business?

PowerPoint has long been the tool of choice for creating business presentations, but Google Slides is worth a second look. We compare their strengths and weaknesses.

By Preston Gralla

Contributing Editor, Computerworld | MAR 27, 2018 3:00 AM PT

If you’re going to give business presentations, odds are you’ll be choosing between Microsoft PowerPoint and Google Slides, the two best-known MS vs Googlepresentation applications. They’re both solid, useful tools — and both have changed a great deal over the years. Given all their changes, you may want to reconsider what you’re using today.If you’re going to give business presentations, odds are you’ll be choosing between Microsoft PowerPoint and Google Slides, the two best-known presentation applications. They’re both solid, useful tools — and both have changed a great deal over the years. Given all their changes, you may want to reconsider what you’re using today.

To help you choose, I put them through their paces by building a presentation that many business professionals might create: announcing a new product or service line. In each program I started by looking for suitable templates, then created a new presentation; added slides; juiced them up with graphics, video and animations; collaborated with others on it; and finally, gave presentation itself.

It’s a multiplatform world, so I worked on it using a Windows PC, a Mac, an iPad, an Android tablet and an iPhone. I used the local clients and the online version of Microsoft PowerPoint, as well as the mobile versions. Google Slides is web-based but also has client versions for Android and iOS, so I tested those as well.

Read More

Continue reading
2552 Hits

Microsoft is bringing Cortana to Outlook for iOS and Android

Cortana will read your emails aloud during car journeys

By Tom Warren     @tomwarren    Mar 5, 2018, 10:19am EST


Cortana in Outlook for iOS Photo by Tom Warren / The Verge

Microsoft has been slowly adding more email intelligence to its Cortana digital assistant, but it has resisted integrating it directly into Outlook mobile. That’s about to change, soon. Sources familiar with Microsoft’s Outlook plans tell The Verge that the company is currently testing Cortana within Outlook on iOS and Android.

The Cortana integration will allow users of the popular mobile email client to listen to and respond to emails with their voice. This will be particularly useful during car journeys, and Microsoft is testing Cortana integration directly within Outlook mobile that will work over Bluetooth and read messages aloud. Users will be able to ask Cortana phrases like “what’s my email,” or just to read messages from specific contacts.


Read More

Continue reading
1565 Hits

Microsoft is shutting down its free upgrade from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 January 16

Microsoft's Windows 8.1 has moved out of mainstream support, meaning that users are essentially running a dead OS. But there's still one more way to upgrade to Windows 10 for free.

By Mark Hachman

Senior Editor, PCWorld

windows 10 assistive technology loophole 100746775 large


If you’re still running Windows 8.1, be advised that Microsoft shut down mainstream support a week ago. But there’s still a last-ditch upgrade path to Windows 10: Microsoft’s assistive technology loophole, which closes January 16.

Microsoft ended mainstream support for Windows 8.1 on January 9, five years after the operating system’s debut. Essentially, it’s dead, and for the average consumer, Windows 8.1 will remain forever unchanged, with no new features or bug fixes. Instead, Microsoft has migrated the OS to “extended support,” which will provide security updates for another five years, until 2023.

In Microsoft’s world view, consumers should have already migrated to Windows 10, a modern OS with big fixes, patches, and period updates. And while the company gave users a one-year window to upgrade to Windows 10 for free, NetMarketshare shows about 7 percent of users have refused to upgrade, or simply forgot to do it by the July, 2016 deadline.

Well, know this today: You have one last opportunity to upgrade (unless Microsoft once again extends the deadline).

Read More

Continue reading
1580 Hits

Windows 7 update guide: How 'security-only' and 'monthly rollups' differ

Microsoft in 2016 changed the way it rolls out updates for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, leaving many IT admins and users confused. Here's how to sort out what the company is doing.

By Gregg Keizer

Senior Reporter, Computerworld


hand 157233 1280 100700980 large

It's been more than a year since Microsoft ended the decades-old practice of letting customers

choose which patches they apply, and instead instituted a cumulative update maintenance model for Windows 7 and its shadow-of-a-sibling, Window 8.1.

And yet some users still don't grasp the new scheme.

"There are plenty of people who don't know which kind of update they should use," Chris Geottl, product manager with client security and management vendor Ivanti, said in a recent interview. "'Which one should I do? What non-security features are included in the monthly rollup? There's still some confusion."

No wonder there.

Microsoft asked for a lot last year. It asked enterprise IT administrators to upend ingrained patching practices. It asked them to make radical changes to how they maintain Windows 7 deep into its lifecycle, when there were just three years and change remaining before retirement, a phase most admins probably thought they'd be coasting as they prepped for Windows 10. It asked customers to absorb new terminology. And it changed the rules more than once after the new process debuted.

In return, users had questions - ans still do. The top query may seem among the simplest - what's the difference between the two types of Windows 7 updates now offered - but as Computerworld found out, appearances are deceiving.

What's in the security-only update? Just as the name implies, this update includes only security-related fixes, the kind that Microsoft has issued for 14 years on the second Tuesday of each month (aka "Patch Tuesday").

Just as important, though, is that the security-only update contains this month's fixes, and nothing more. (Again, that characteristic is what has defined Windows patches for years.)

What's in the monthly rollup? The Windows 7 and 8.1 monthly rollups include not only this month's security patches, but also all past security and non-security fixes, going back to at least October 2016, and possibly further. In other words, a monthly rollup is a superset of the month's security-only.

Side note: "Rollup" is a term Microsoft has used for ages to label catch-up updates, those that bring a program or operating system up to current status by bundling all past fixes. (Usually from a specific point in time, say, the last major release, which in the past were called "service packs" and abbreviated to "SP" as in "SP1" to designate the first such collection.)

Microsoft has touted rollups as a customer convenience, because they allow a long-out-of-date PC to be made current with just one download and install, rather than being forced to retrieve scores, maybe hundreds, of individual updates. That's exactly how the company described what it dubbed the "Windows 7 SP1 convenience rollup" it issued in May 2016.

"Install this one update, and then you only need new updates released after April 2016," Microsoft said at the time of the convenience rollup, which preceded and presaged the monthly rollups announced three months later.

Read More

Continue reading
1175 Hits

Microsoft is releasing Office 2019 next year

Microsoft Office 2019

Microsoft is announcing its next major release of Office today at Ignite in Orlando, with a planned release for next year. Office 2019 (arriving in the second half of 2018) will include the usual Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook client apps, alongside server versions of Exchange, SharePoint, and Skype for Business. Microsoft is planning to release preview copies of Office 2019 in the middle of 2018, and the software is primarily designed for organizations that aren’t using the cloud Office 365 versions.

Office 2019 will include better IT capabilities for businesses that aren’t using Office 365, and new ink features like pressure sensitivity, tilt effects, and ink replay. Excel will also include new formulas and charts for data analysis, and PowerPoint will pick up the morph and zoom animation features that Office 365 customers are currently taking advantage of.

Read More 

Continue reading
1249 Hits

Apple replaces Bing with Google as search engine for Siri and Spotlight

siri what can i help you with e1459781539685

Siri screenshot. (Apple Image)

Apple is ditching Bing and will now use Google to power the default search engine for Siri, Search within iOS (iOS search bar), and Spotlight on Mac.

TechCrunch reported Monday that Apple users will now see search results powered by Google, instead of Bing, when using those tools.

For example, when an iPhone user asks Siri a question that needs a search engine result, the voice assistant will now pull from Google, not Bing.

Apple will still use Bing for image search queries using Siri or Spotlight on Mac, TechCrunch reported. Apple said the move was done for consistency; its Safari browser uses Google as the default search engine.

In a statement, the company told TechCrunch that “we have strong relationships with Google and Microsoft and remain committed to delivering the best user experience possible.”

Read More

Continue reading
1040 Hits

Microsoft connects LinkedIn and Office 365 via profile cards, starting to capitalize on $26B deal

BY NAT LEVY on September 25, 2017 at 6:00 am



Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner. (Microsoft Photo)

More than a year after Microsoft announced its plans to purchase LinkedIn for $26.2 billion, the technology giant is rolling out some of the first integrations with the business social network.

At its Ignite conference in Orlando this morning, Microsoft plans to announce that Office 365 will include a new “profile card” that can display LinkedIn information. For example, interviewers using Outlook would be able to easily access LinkedIn profiles of job seekers. This integration, the first between Office 365 and LinkedIn since the acquisition, is designed to make it easier for people to search for others inside their organizations.

Here’s how it works, according to the company: “Users who have access to this feature can access LinkedIn profile information by hovering over a person’s name and navigating to the ‘LinkedIn’ tab on the new profile card. Microsoft service administrators continue to have control over organizational privacy and connected features in their tenant. We respect end-user privacy and will honor your LinkedIn privacy and profile visibility settings.”

Microsoft is also connecting LinkedIn with its Dynamics sales and recruiting technology. LinkedIn InMails and messages will soon be able to be sent directly from Dynamics 365 for Sales, for example, and customers will be able to quickly integrate LinkedIn profile photos and other content to enrich lead data.

Microsoft completed its high-profile purchase of LinkedIn last year. At that time, Microsoft detailed a few of the integrations it was pursuing at the time, providing a roadmap for the work between Microsoft and LinkedIn.

Read More

Continue reading
1177 Hits

MSFT SMB Partners – Shelter in Place!

IT’s the mean season at Microsoft with targeted SMB-related layoffs in the reorg wave and then the “how does it play out” conversations at the annual partner conference underway in Washington DC (now called Inspire; formerly Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC)). Here’s my take on it: shelter in place until the next quarter starting October 1, 2017. 
During the 4th of July week, and the start of FY18, Microsoft made long-anticipated announcements concerning layoffs and reorganizations.image1 Proper PR communications suggested it was in the sales and marketing roles primarily overseas. The reality is different. 
Cindy Bates. I can now confirm that Cindy Bates, VP of SMB (US) has left the company. In her role she oversaw Partners, Customers and Distributors. She did not oversee the Microsoft Stores. On an individual basis, Bates is a friend and I’ll know she’ll do fine and land right-side up. Sources indicate she has already been invited to join two Boards of Directors. Say what you must but the departure is significant as she was a legendary force in the SMB practice area at Microsoft. 
Cindy Bates Team. Sadly, there are other critical exits underway. Steven Fielding and his team are out. He reported to Cindy and was a key SMB Cabinet member in the PR, communications and messaging area. Other departures are expected and I’ll keep you posted. 
SMB State Department. With the Microsoft Inspire conference being held in Washington DC, I cannot resist a political analogy. It seems like Microsoft is dismantling the US SMB business organization. Much like the current president and administration are starving the State Department. So, what does this look like? It means we’ll have SMB embassies without Ambassadors. SMB diplomacy will screech to a halt. One long-time SMB Nation partner from SoCal whom I spent time with here at Inspire is bamboozled about Microsoft’s commitment to the beloved old timy SBS crowd (yes – he wants his on-premises server back). Microsoft’s action were not a vote of confidence.  
What’s My Job? Internally my Microsoft blue badge sources indicate that things aren’t clear yet. There are likely two more layoff waves in the next six months. People have new roles as of last week without guidance. It’s akin to the White House being paralyzed over the Russia thing. This will take the summer to sort it all out. 
SMB Acronym Missing. I listened intently to all of the keynotes. I personally didn’t hear the acronym “SMB” once. I heard the term “Small Business” and there was even a keynote reference on Day Three to “Small Business Server” but the term SMB has become persona non grata. I stopped counting how many times I heard the term “Inspire” after 100 instances. 
Lead Generation. The One Commercial Partner initiative is a highlight. And within this simplification and consolidation strategy, the lead generation service is the crown jewel. Readers might recall I spent two years in a Seattle-based Big Data startup called LeadScorz so I’ll dig deeper into this area and report back. I can tell you an SMB Nation member never met a warm lead she/he didn’t like! 
This is my first report from Microsoft Inspire in Washington DC. Keep it right here for more analysis. 
Continue reading
1309 Hits

Microsoft Power BI Visualizes Dynamics 365 Business Processes

By: Pedro Hernandez | May 18, 2017

A Power BI content pack allows Dynamics 365 customers to gain new insights into their business processes.

Power BIMicrosoft wants to help demystify the business processes of its Dynamics 365 customers.

Power BI, Microsoft's cloud-based business intelligence (BI) and data visualization platform, is typically used to create interactive visualizations that unearth insights using a wide variety of business data. Now, joint Power BI and Dynamics 365 users have tool that can help them get a better grasp of what makes their businesses tick.

The software giant announced the release of a new Power BI Process Analyzer Content Pack for customers using Dynamics 365 (version 8.2 and up), a cloud-enabled business application platform that integrates Microsoft's customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software along with a bevy of intelligent applications. The pack is available in the AppSource marketplace from Microsoft.

The Power BI content pack, authored by Microsoft staffers Christian Abeln, a senior program manager, and Karl Maybach, a senior content developer at the software maker, links directly to the Dynamics 365 database and generates interactive charts and other visualizations that represent business process flows. According to the company, users can then track and explore several of their organizations' performance indicators.

A step-by-step guide on setting up the content pack and creating custom business process reports is available in this blog post.

Also this week, Microsoft released a preview of Power BI Report Server, which enables customers of the new Power BI Premium licensing option to store and manage reports on-premises. "With this first release, you connect directly to an Analysis Services data model, which in turn can connect to a variety of other data sources, including SQL Server, Oracle, Teradata, and more," stated Riccardo Muti, a group program manager at Microsoft Power BI in a separate post. "We aim to extend direct connectivity to the other Power BI Desktop data sources, targeting later this year."

Power BI Report Server will be generally available alongside Power BI Premium later this quarter, added Muti.

 Read More

Continue reading
1784 Hits

Onward and Upward – Jamison West’s New Gig

Over the past few months, I’ve teased you with forthcoming changes in the world of Jamison West. He essentially divested

his MSP practice business interests, sold his Seattle home into a strong market and moved to Las Vegas with his family (pictured). It would jamisonbe easy to assume it was the record setting monsoon season in Seattle that caused his move to fun and sun but it’s more than that.

So it’s time to let the cat out of the bag. What’s the story with Jamison? With life changes afoot, West is the new CEO for Teamatics. It’s kinda like Myers-Briggs meets Slack. To level set, Microsoft Teams is the competitor to the wildly popular Slack. It represents Microsoft’s latest endeavor into the malleable world of collaboration (following similar positioning with Yammer, SharePoint, Skype messaging and so on). Slack largely created the latest generation of collaboration with what started as a IM tool for gamer developers and was validated but serving as a rapid development environment for the reboot of the web site. I view Slack as an internal email replacement to keep my Inbox free. I’m using Microsoft Teams as well but it feels more like a document storage corpus to me (say SharePoint Jr.). Admittedly I’ve only been using Microsoft Teams for five months and it only recently was officially released so the Microsoft Teams journey continues.

West is leveraging Microsoft Teams as a “new platform for developing human capital and improving team performance.” His firm Teamatics strikes me as one part Myers-Briggs, one part peer group/living theology and one part technology. I’d first and foremost define this as a services business, not a product line. West’s calling is and has been for some time to help others ad this new venture allows for that.

Of the launch, West said, “In my 20-plus years of managing teams and leaders of teams I’ve struggled to find a simple, accurate way to ensure talents are aligned to objectives and that the team is aligned with each other and to the culture of my company. I am thrilled to be part of a new team that has done incredible work to solve that problem.”

I’ll continue to monitor this startup.

UPDATED: Let me know if you thing we should weave Jamison into the fabirc of our upcoming six-part MSP Tech Talk series? He is a frequent speaker in the SMB MSP channel partner community. Hmmm...

Continue reading
1309 Hits

Helped Needed - Small Business Server (SBS) Licensing

Hey Harry,    

We are an old but always evolving  IT provider...who has been involved with SBS since the NT 3.5 beta I’m pretty sure I know the product..     We need you to drop some (not even that old) knowledge on our friends in Redmond ! J I’m betting I’m not the only old reseller getting hit with this silly scenario.

Many of our small business clients are finally (after being under the radar for 30 years) being subjected to a friendly, Microsoft License Verification Process.     This doesn’t really scare us too much...because we’ve always required compliance from our clients...

however, the Microsoft folks working with us on this process seem entirely baffled by the SBS 2011 licensing model!?   They are saying our client has a short fall....they say the SBS 2011 Std product came with 5 Device CALS, so we are short User CALS..

Here’s one example: (we never use device CALS by the way)

Client has 12 people, we have them buy SBS2011 Std (with 5) , and 7 more user CALS = 12 ...right?

Product Description                                          Product Number  Version and Copies

WinSBCALSte 2011 SNGL OLP NL   UsrCAL           6UA-03863 (7-copies)

WinSBSvrStd 2011 SNGL OLP NL  5Clt                  T72-02925 (1 copy)

Nope, Microsoft license verification guy says that’s 5 device CALS and 7 they are short 5. MS Open sales, blank look. MS Open Lic department’s answer? “MS SBS 2011 was only available in retail, and therefore improperly skewed by techdata/cdw on this agreement” Wha? Is the corporate memory loss?

Can you help a crusty old IT guy?


Jim Denison

Seattle Micro Inc.












To help Jim - please post up to the SMB Nation Facebook page here!

Continue reading
1413 Hits

Microsoft is extending its Office Insider Fast Ring test program

Microsoft is adding a Fast Ring option to its Office Insider test program for Windows desktops, Windows 10 Mobile, iOS and Android.

mary jo foley thumb2By Mary Jo Foley




Microsoft has an Office Insider testing program that shares a number of similarities with its Windows Insider program, but one difference broaderofficeinsiderbetween the two has been scope.

The Office Insider program, which Microsoft launched in November 2015, didn't initially support different test rings. The one rather odd exception was the Office Insider for Mac program, which did include both Fast and Slow ring options, since June 2016. (Microsoft added Office for Mac users to its Insider test program in January 2016.)

Today, August 30, Microsoft disclosed it would be adding a Fast Ring option to its Office Insider program for users on other platforms, beyond Mac OS.




Continue reading
1752 Hits

Dan the Man: What Cloud Partner Program is Best?!

Long-time SMB Nation member Daniel Williams (Xpedeus) from Tampa, FL asked a very relevant question this past week. I wanted to crowd source the answer.

Dan asked: What MS “certs” or MS programs can our Xpedeus consultants gain for becoming “MS Cloud” consultants and transitioning Xpedeus to become an MS Cloud consultancy? In the old SBS days it was easy, just become Small Business Specialist. What is the equivalent in the cloud? It seems MS has so many programs for becoming a “cloud guy” I am not sure which applies best to Xpedeus customer base of 5-250 knowledge-worker companies.


Harry here. I’d offer the short answer is that Dan jump into the Microsoft Cloud Services Provider (CSP) program with both feet. There are a few resources for Dan to learn more. One is Microsoft itself. The other concerns third-party Office 365 ecosystem partners such as AppRiver, long-time supporter of SMB Nation.

But most importantly, I want to hear from YOU the reader in answering Dan’s important question. Please leave a comment on this blog which I’ll approve and also use in a follow-up contribution next week. Thanks in advance.

Continue reading
1311 Hits

Pokémon GO and Office 365

pokemon go logo

Greg Plum 8/8/2016

"How is Office 365 like Pokémon GO?" I ask my tween daughter as we are discussing the nearest Poke-stop.  Of course she looked at me with the same expression that I often get when I interrupt her world with a "dad question".  The look that says "Why are you talking to me?  I'm busy."  You know the look.  Or, you will one day.  

Finally, she graces me with a half-hearted response, "What do you mean? They are nothing alike!"  At this, I am actually encouraged because this response indicates that she does know what Office 365 is.

So, now I ask you, "how IS Office 365 like Pokémon GO?"  In a word:  relevance.

Let’s Take a Look Back

Pokémon was wildly popular in the mid-90s, making Nintendo an even more familiar name in households worldwide. That movement was fueled by a series of video games and the ever presence of Pokémon cards. I am sure millennials remember this quite well. Then, with the advent of more realistic graphics in video games with names like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto (or "GTA" to those who were among the legions of fans), Pokémon seemed to have passed it's peak, although always maintaining a healthy fan base.  

Pikachu Today…

Enter Pokémon GO on July 6, 2016.  According to SurveyMonkey, "Within three days of its release, Pokémon GO attracted more users than [decade-old] Twitter and rose to the top of the App Store revenue charts, earning millions of dollars a day for its publisher, Niantic." For now, anyway, Pokémon is an integral part of our everyday vernacular.  It has been given new life… all courtesy of Pokémon GO.  Not only is it the most played mobile game in US history, crushing "Candy Crush", it's use is closing in on Google Maps and SnapChat! Pokémon is, once again, relevant. To say the least…

Your Father’s Microsoft

But, what does all of this Pokémon talk have to do with Office 365?  Plenty.

Think back just a few years…  When someone asked which technology companies were hot, you would have likely said Facebook, Google, Apple and maybe even AirBnB and Uber. But, Microsoft?  Hardly.  Most of these companies that we all admired were "born in the cloud", that is, according to Techopedia, companies that offer "a specific type of cloud service that does not involve legacy systems, but was designed only for cloud delivery."  Microsoft was legacy, old, stodgy, not worthy of admiration, and maybe even thought of as a necessary evil.


Read More

Continue reading
1665 Hits

Learn how to > Master Your Archive Migration and Move to Microsoft Office 365

What: A Microsoft Office 365 Migration Best Practice Breakfast Seminar
When: Weds 31st August, 08:30 to 11:00
Where: Microsoft Office, Johannesburg

If you’re thinking about a move to Microsoft Office 365, and want to ensure the fastest and most efficient migration – then this best practice seminar is for you. Event Header 220 x 150 for SMB

Hear from Microsoft about the key benefits of moving to the Cloud, as they are joined by TransVault, the leader in archive migration solutions and Soarsoft, a migration services expert, for a morning event at Microsoft South Africa.

Enjoy a complimentary breakfast while the gurus take you through the ways you can prepare for the challenges of moving enterprise email and data into Microsoft’s Cloud.

Aimed at messaging professionals, by attending this event you will learn:
• How to securely and accurately move legacy email records into Office 365 for a one-stop-shop regulatory experience
• Get an introduction: To the Cloud. From the Cloud. Leverage Microsoft Azure for a completely 'in Cloud' migration
• See how others have made their move and embraced the Microsoft Cloud



Continue reading
2997 Hits

Potential Office 365 customers crying out for channel help

Antony Savvas (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Office 365 Cloud Email

Two thirds want a VAR or service provider to help them shows Barracuda research

Research from Barracuda Networks highlights the opportunity for the UK channel to help businesses adopt Microsoft Office 365.

While the proportion of businesses surveyed planning to migrate to Office 365 is “promising”, said Barracuda, some potential end users cite issues such as security as major inhibitors to adoption.

“Education and value-add services will therefore play a key role in the success of channel programmes around Office 365,” said the security and data management vendor.

Microsoft OfficeThe survey found that just under half of the respondents plan to migrate to Office 365, and a quarter of those will do so in the next 12 months.

And two thirds plan to consult a VAR or service provider to help manage adoption, migration and on-going operation. One third of those not planning to migrate cited security worries as the main reason for this.

Commenting on the research, Henry Doyle, director at Altinet, the IT security and storage VAR, said: “As the popularity of Office 365 grows, it is really encouraging to see that companies recognise the value-add that service providers can deliver in the planning, roll-out and ongoing implementation of these services.


Read More

Continue reading
2498 Hits

Millions of people are still running Windows XP

By: John Zorabedian    

It’s been two years since Microsoft ended support for Windows XP, the popular operating system that’s been around since 2001 and which many people just don’t seem willing to let goWindowsXP

Microsoft did about all it could to drag XP-ers into the present with pop-up warnings urging them that they need to upgrade, and a free migration tool to help people transfer their files and settings to Windows 7 or Windows 8.

It’s not merely that Microsoft wants to get everybody onto the latest version of Windows, although it has certainly gone to great lengths recently to get people to upgrade to Windows 10, whether they want to or not.

But as we at Naked Security repeatedly warned XP users, the end of support means “zero-days forever,” because those vulnerabilities will never be patched – and XP computers are sitting ducks for cybercriminals to attack.

And yet there are still millions of XP computers connecting to the internet, where all manner of malware is waiting to pounce.

Windows XP was still running on 10.9% of all desktops as of March 2016, according to stats compiled by Net Applications.

To put that in perspective, according to Net Applications’ figures, Windows XP is still the third-most popular desktop OS, trailing only Windows 7 (51.9%) and Windows 10 (14.2%).

And there are more PCs running XP than Windows 8.1 (9.6%), and all versions of Mac OS X combined (7.8%).

Read More

Continue reading
1725 Hits

Recipes for Office 365 Business Solutions

Our cookbook of Office 365-based applications will point you toward a new, richer way to profit from sales of Microsoft’s online productivity suite.

By Rich Freeman cookbookinside

There are many things for channel pros to love about Microsoft’s Office 365 communication and collaboration platform. The single-digit commissions Microsoft pays resellers of that offering after a subscription’s first year aren’t among them.

“That is not a business model that’s sustainable if you’re a small company,” observes Jerod Powell, CEO of Infinit Consulting Inc., a managed and cloud services provider headquartered in San Jose, Calif. “You need to have some value-add.”

For Powell and other Microsoft partners, that means developing business solutions on top of Office 365. The product’s constituent applications—especially Microsoft SharePoint—make solid foundations for everything from workflow and knowledge management systems to predictive analytics solutions and beyond. “If you can think it, you can probably build it in there,” Powell says, adding that doing so increases not only an Office 365 sale’s bottom-line impact but a solution provider’s “stickiness” with its customers as well.

Wondering where to begin? Here are high-level recipes for five Office 365 solutions that should stimulate your thinking.

Recipe 1: Financial Reporting Solution
Most accounting solutions come with built-in reporting tools. Most financial professionals find them sorely lacking.

That was certainly true at one of Infinit’s clients, anyway. “It was taking the comptroller two weeks to generate a lot of the 10-K-, 10-Q-type stuff,” Powell recalls. That frustration ultimately inspired Powell and his team to create an Office 365-based reporting solution that pulls data out of an accounting or ERP system, stores it in SharePoint, and provides intuitive, graphical access to it on PCs, tablets, and smartphones via Microsoft’s Power BI business analytics application.

Creating such a system isn’t for the faint of heart though, Powell warns. Building one for that first buyer took over six months and $200,000 worth of development time. “It can get complicated fast,” Powell says. Using that initial version of the system as a template for future installations, however, Infinit can now roll out new deployments in as little as a day.

•An Office 365 subscription that includes SharePoint Online
•A Microsoft Azure subscription
•Microsoft Power BI
•An accounting or ERP solution, preferably cloud-based, with open APIs

Preparation Summary
1.Assess the client’s reporting needs. Each buyer will require different reports formatted in different ways. Many will have regulatory compliance requirements to consider too.
2.Implement and customize the solution.
3.Integrate the solution with the client’s accounting or ERP system. Some clients may wish to link the solution to a payroll or time and expense management application as well.

Additional Serving Suggestions

INFINIT typically bundles its financial reporting solution with a package of associated managed services that provides 24/7 support, mobile device management, and more for a single, per-user monthly fee.

Recipe 2: Office 365 Help Desk

Read More

Continue reading
1865 Hits

Microsoft Remains A Growth Story With A Strong Future

Written By: Michael Blair


  • Microsoft has shown strong share performance over the past few years.
  • The company has a visionary CEO with the right strategy for the longer term.
  • Its cloud and subscription software foundation are growing in scale and earnings power.
  • Microsoft is not giving up on devices.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has the right CEO and the right strategy, in my opinion. The company has been a mainstay of technology portfolios throughout the 3 years I have followed it, returning an average of 25.5% annually.

8857901 14599005627798 rId5

Source: TipRanks

That has produced a good result for me, with gains on MSFT calls totaling over $400,000 (partial list of trades below from my accounting records).

Read More

Continue reading
1688 Hits
1 Comment

IDC finally gives up Windows Phone, predicts ever falling sales


The IDC has always been somewhat optimistic about the future of Windows Phone, but after repeatedly missing predictions by a wide margin the IDC has finally given up on the OS.

The analyst company predicted in December last year that Microsoft would sell 31.3 million Windows Phones in 2015, and 43.6 million by 2019.  Unfortunately Microsoft missed even this modest target, hitting only 27.3 million sales in 2015.

As recently as May 2015 IDC still predicted Microsoft would sell more than 100 million Windows Phones by 2019, but now the company has revised its predictions downwards sharply to what is seen above.


Read More

Continue reading
2123 Hits
1 Comment

Microsoft’s cloud-computing efforts are paying off as it gains on Amazon



Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella says, “the enterprise cloud opportunity is massive.”

By: Therese Poletti

Microsoft Corp.’s fiscal second quarter showed that its cloud-computing efforts are paying off with major revenue growth and improved profit margins, offsetting declines in its PC businesses.

Investors cheered Microsoft’s MSFT, -0.23%  results in after-hours trading, with shares rising 3.4%, while shares of Seattle neighbor Inc. AMZN, +0.31%   plunged amid disappointment with holiday season profits . The two companies are proving to be fierce rivals in the arena of public cloud, where Microsoft is gaining momentum with its Azure product line, which saw a 140% year-over-year jump in revenue in constant currency.

microsoft gaining on amazon in cloud 2016 01 28

The software giant did not break out revenue of Azure in particular, only giving the growth rate. Azure is partnered with other cloud-focused products in Microsoft’s “intelligent cloud” business, which reported $6.3 billion in total revenue, up 11% in constant currency.

“The enterprise cloud opportunity is massive, larger than any market we have ever participated in,” Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella told analysts.

Amazon and its fast-growing Amazon Web Services business is a formidable opponent in cloud computing, though. AWS reported $2.4 billion in sales for AWS on Thursday, with $687 million in operating income, for a revenue growth rate just shy of 70% — about half of Azure’s reported rise, though Amazon’s number did not use constant currency.

While Azure is growing faster than AWS, it is likely still far behind in terms of overall size. Ahead of Microsoft’s earnings, Raymond James analyst Michael Turits estimated that Microsoft’s Azure business would hit $501 million in revenue in the December quarter.

“It looks like they are slowly but surely gaining share, that’s the key,” FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives said.

Microsoft also fared well with its Office 365 cloud product, a major part of the “intelligent cloud” sector, which saw revenue growth of nearly 70% in constant currency.


Read More


Continue reading
1953 Hits

Microsoft bizdev chief Peggy Johnson on huge acquisitions, partnering with enemies, and HoloLens

Microsoft is now building apps for competing platforms, and it feels good about it.

Peggy Johnson is Microsoft's executive vice president of business enterprise development. She sat down with Organization Insider's Matt Rosoff at IGNITION 2015, and told us about how Microsoft decides when to buy a enterprise, and its new technique of creating apps for competing platforms.

Matt Rosoff: Peggy joined Microsoft a small bit extra than a year ago ...

Peggy Johnson: A tiny more than a year ago — a year and 3 months.

Rosoff: And at the time there was a comparatively new CEO — Satya Nadella — only Microsoft's third CEO in history and I would say in the final couple of years there is been a genuine remarkable transformation in the way Microsoft treats companies that utilized to be considered competitors. I keep in mind the old days when if it wasn't invented right here, we're not going to talk about it, and Linux is cancer and Apple is the enemy. And then in the final year and a half or so, you guys have bought a bunch of small app makers for iOS and Android, which is some thing you by no means would have carried out before. You have struck a complete bunch of partnerships, you're starting to even embrace issues like Linux, so how has this happened? And what is the philosophy there? And why is Microsoft being friendlier to other platforms now than it employed to be?

Johnson: It did start off with Satya and his vision for the firm. He's truly selected to concentrate on partnerships and appear for areas of collaboration and for confident we compete with other firms, but there are so numerous areas that we can also collaborate. So you mentioned a couple of — Salesforce is one. We have a competitive product in between the two of us. But we look for locations that truly our joint clients were involved in. And we stated, "Can we integrate right here and bring additional worth and delight our joint consumers?" So we did that with Office 365 and Salesforce. And it type of opens up a lot of new value for our buyers where they can now take these two sets of data that they are gathering from these two items, put them together, and as an enterprise sort of mind that information additional.

Rosoff: I'm specifically interested in Microsoft on the iPhone. So you purchased a Acompli and a Sunrise and integrated those into Outlook for the iPhone. I basically use that instead of the built-in mail client simply because it's much better. You purchased some corporations that do Android lock screens ... and this is fairly various than Microsoft before which was normally about Windows Telephone — Windows, Windows, Windows. So, why did you guys make the choice to start out investing a lot more heavily in iOS and Android?

Johnson: We totally recognized that our buyers have a variety of devices. They are carrying all sorts of things. And we want to bring our world class apps to these devices. And that meant going cross-platform. And it was shortly just after Satya took the reins that he made that initially choice to take Office apps to iOS. And then from there, we continued to construct on that.

You mentioned a few of our current acquisitions. Acompli is just a excellent instance of a fabulous app. And we looked at that — and we kind of do a create-get-partner with anything that we view — and that one particular just created additional sense to acquire. And we brought the app in, and because then — two terrific items have happened — 1. we acquired Javier Soltero, I never know if any of you know him, he was the CEO at Acompli, he's now performing remarkable perform at Microsoft. He's now in-charge of all of Outlook and I feel his outside perspective has been beneficial for the teams. We've have really engaged the teams deeply on his view of things. But then, what that did, was it sort of set the pace for bringing in other items. Acompli brought in Sunrise. Then Wunderlist — Wunderlist is a wonderful app. We've had, I assume now over a billion lists created on Wunderlist. And so it's just continuing to tap into points that are delighting our clients and bringing them in.

Click Here To Read More

Continue reading
2395 Hits
1 Comment

Sun Tan Effect: Seattle Startup Week

Story By Harry Brelsford, CEO, SMB Nation - 

 When a conference concludes, you leave on a natural high. That’s called the sun tan effect and lasts a few weeks post-event. You know the feeling. You’re psyched to implement what you learned, but then like a sun tan, the glow fades a few weeks later. So I write this as I am sporting a sun tan from last week’s Seattle Startup Week (tan in rainy Seattle?). Unfortunately, I only participated on the last day (Friday, October 30th) as I was unaware of the event (scary) and learned of it when colleague Dona Keating posted up a Facebook notice that she was speaking mid-day Friday.

pic1seattlestartupweek 1024

So I went to the event site ( and registered for free immediately. I did this so I could get in the loop. In essence, my registration will allow me to receive future updates. But my registration was also a lead for the sponsors. The primary sponsor is Chase, a financial institution underwriting the lion’s share of the event costs (more on that in a moment). For its sponsorship, Chase would have received over 3,000 leads (the total number of sign-ups) who attended over 170+ sessions sprinkled across Seattle, from October 26 - October 30. To be honest, it was an event and I learned from one of the 13 event managers that it’s held in 50-cities annually (like the Three Day Walk in a different realm). That would suggest that Chase is likely gathering around 150,000 leads for its sponsorship. I’d offer the leads are qualified, targeted and of high value to Chase trying to sell small business banking services.

pic2seattlestartupweek edited 1024

Melanie Gass (Microsoft) and Pat Murphy (LeadScorz, a start-up) talking business.

From an analytical point of view, I noticed a correlation to the SMB Nation “crowd” we know and love in that we’re small business owners and ergo, entrepreneurs. But that’s where it ends. The Seattle Startup Week audience was significantly younger and far more likely to explore new business opportunities far afield from the on-premises Small Business Server paradigm and even Office 365. This is the millennial crowd working in co-worker open spaces. These 20-somethings are very smart and focused on the new-new such as a mobile app to find uber movers. Needless to say, I was impressed and I will repeat.

So given I was a “Johnny-come-lately” to the event, exactly what sessions did I attend? Full disclosure: the Friday afternoon reception and the Friday night Halloween Party. Next year I’ll actually go to lecture, LOL.

Continue reading
1720 Hits

Mr. Shuey Goes to Washington

Story by Jeff Shuey - 

With apologies to Jimmy Stewart for co-opting his classic movie title. This week I went to Washington, DC to meet with my Senate and Congressional representatives. However, it wasn’t just me. There were about 50 people from the Microsoft partner ecosystem covering quite a few states. Many of us are also part of our local IAMCP chapters and a lot of us are also SMB’s.dc vfi visit dept of commerce jeff shuey sitting in the chait waiting for dpty secy

The Voices for Innovation team coordinated the efforts and helped make sure we were ready to meet with our representatives. I’d like to thank Jonathan Friebert and Maddie Orser of Microsoft for putting all the pieces together and for bringing great speakers from Microsoft as well as from industry and governmental agencies.

What does this mean for the SMB Nation?

It’s simple. Microsoft is putting their best foot forward and is Fighting for Your Rights. We focused on seeking support for the LEADS Act – which emphasizes Privacy. You can find more on the VFI website or search for S.512 and H.R.1174.

What Can You Do?

The call to action is simple. Get involved. Search for apps on your mobile device using the term “Congress” and if you are a Windows Phone user this is a great app – Informed American. Connect with your representative’s in-person –in DC if possible and in your home town. They do want to hear from you.

Follow the VFI team on Twitter @VFIorg and on Facebook.

I’d like to reiterate my thanks to Microsoft and the Voices for Innovation team.

Continue reading
2293 Hits

Microsoft Aces Antivirus Test

In past years, Microsoft has brought up the rear in many antivirus tests, sometimes earning a below-zero score. AAA certification from Dennis Labs suggests that Microsoft's antivirus is coming out of its slump.


For years, Microsoft's antivirus has been the sad sack in antivirus tests. Several labs have taken to calling Microsoft's performance a baseline. If you can't beat the baseline, you're doing something wrong. That trend seems to be changing, though. In the latest test results reported by AV-Test Institute, Microsoft earned a respectable 14 points (out of a possible 18). That's a lot better than its previous score of 9.5 points; 10 points is the minimum to pass this test.

480105 microsoft wayIt seems that Microsoft is on a roll. Dennis Technology Labs certifies antivirus products at a number of different levels: AAA, AA, A, B, and C. For the first time, Microsoft managed AAA certification.

Real-Life Malware

The researchers at Dennis Labs search for websites hosting drive-by downloads and other types of attacks. They capture the entire contents of each attack page and use a playback system to expose each antivirus to precisely the same attack. This kind of testing is quite labor-intensive. Dennis Labs typically evaluates nine or 10 products, where AV-Test and AV-Comparatives include over 20.

An antivirus product that detects the launch of malware and neutralizes the malicious process gets one point. If it also removes all executable traces of the malware, that's worth another point. For the best scenario, when the antivirus completely prevents execution of malware, three points are awarded.

Points go both ways, though. If the malware slips past the antivirus and runs rampant on the test system, that takes away five points. In past years, Microsoft frequently wound up with a below-zero total score.

Click Here To Read More

Continue reading
2019 Hits
1 Comment

Building a Profitable and Scalable Cloud Business / SMB Nation Webinar

Sign up today! SMB Nation Webinar 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM PDT. Friday, Oct 30th

Presented by: Harry Brelsford CEO of SMB Nation and Dan Shapero Founder of CLIKCLOUD Digital Marketing

In today’s ever-changing business landscape, cloud computing is profoundly shifting the way businesses operate. As more SMBs are moving to a cloud-based strategy, new growth opportunities are opening up for channel partners seeking a competitive advantage in the channel.clikCloudlogo2

This session will examine the latest trends impacting SMBs and how they present unique opportunities for channel partners.
Attendees will learn:
● Learn how leveraging Office 365, among other best practices can help build a successful cloud business.
● Gain exclusive IDC research on the latest trends fueling channel success in cloud.
● Explore how leading Cloud Service Providers are capitalizing on Cloud as a “Door Opener”.
● Discover ways to recalibrate your sales compensation to support the Cloud business model.
● Learn about exclusive offers for to help partners implement Microsoft SureStep and Modern Marketing Programs.

Registration Link >

Continue reading
3490 Hits

Microsoft Unveils New Windows 10 Devices, Surface Book

By Jeffrey Schwartz, Redmond Channel Partner Magazine - 

Microsoft showcased its own new hardware products for Windows 10 at a recent New York event.

Inviting media, analysts and Windows Insiders, the company rolled out two new Lumia phones, an upgrade to its Surface Pro line and the company's debut into the high-end laptop market with the new Surface Book. The hardware rollouts put some metal around Windows 10, which originally launched back in 10 logo

Microsoft described today's product launches as the "beginning of a new era" for Windows. The company also will support upcoming product rollouts by its key OEM partners, including Dell, Hewlett Packard, Acer, Asus, Fujitsu, Panasonic, LG and Toshiba.

The biggest surprise was the introduction of the new 13.5-inch Surface Book. It's a convertible laptop and tablet that Microsoft officials claim can run 12 hours on a single charge and is two times more powerful than a MacBook Pro. "It redefines everything you would expect in a laptop," said Panos Panay, Microsoft's Surface VP, describing it as "the ultimate laptop" too many times to count.

The Surface Book starts at $1,499 for an i5-based system using the new Intel Core 6 processor with 8GB of RAM and scales up to an i7-based system with 16GB of RAM and a 1TB drive, both supporting optional Nvidia GPUs. The Surface Book is targeted at artists, engineers and gamers who require significant processing power. When the top part is removed from the keyboard to function as a "clipboard," it weighs 1.6 pounds; with the keyboard, it weighs 3.5 pounds. The device has a 13.5-inch 10 point multitouch PixelSense display that renders up to 6 million pixels at 267DPI, Panay said. "There's nothing close to it," he said. A new Surface Pen supports 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity. "If you look at a photo on it, it will look real, if you look at a video it'll immerse you," Panay said. The top-end system will cost a hefty $2,699.

Click Here to Read More


Continue reading
1813 Hits

Microsoft announces Azure innovation at AzureCon

The intelligent cloud is powering innovation industry-wide and key to advancement of Microsoft Azure. 

Microsoft Corp. announced earlier this week Azure will be available in more places worldwide with new features designed to offer users simplicity and flexibility. microsoft logo 100029828 gallery

“We live in a connected world, and the intelligent cloud is powering it all,” said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Cloud + Enterprise Division. “As data and devices continue to proliferate, there is vast opportunity for businesses to tap into their data to make their applications more intelligent. Through our offerings across applications, data and IoT, and cloud infrastructure, we are enabling companies to innovate more easily and rapidly, using the tools and platforms they know and love.”

Exciting product news include the availability of the Azure IoT Suite and the expansion of Azure Data Lake. Microsoft Azure services are now available in India, with O365 and Dynamics CRM soon to follow in the coming months. 

More product information and service announcements from AzureCon are available here.

Continue reading
1642 Hits

Look to the Sharepoint Ecosystem for Help Getting the most from Office 365

 by Harry Brelsford, CEO, SMB Nation

We’ve been talking a lot on O365 Nation about the financial and management benefits of moving to Office 365. Simply removing the internal infrastructure costs for Exchange can be a compelling reason for a business of any size to consider Office 365. That said, Office 365 is a service from Microsoft that offers so much more than a way to simplify the management of

Are you getting the full advantage?

One area that is currently underutilized by many Office 365 subscribers is the included SharePoint Online license. For example, a recent Radicati Group survey found that only 23% of respondents are using SharePoint Online.

SharePoint Online represents a transformational opportunity for many of today’s business and you should be taking a careful look at all the opportunities. Maybe you don’t have an intranet today or all your internal files are in a file share. Your current Office 365 license allows you to change all this.

So why aren’t more people using SharePoint Online?

Radicati states that the “hesitant majority of enterprises that aren't willing to move to [SharePoint Online is] because of user issues, existing architecture and data security.”

(Source for above: )

In some areas these objections are tried and true challenges with SharePoint on-premises for which there is a well-established ecosystem of vendors focused. For example, AvePoint, Cryptzone, and Metalogix are just a few of the vendors focused on data migration, architecture and security problems.

So what about user issues? This is a newer area of focus for the Microsoft ecosystem, but promises to help overcome one of the last real stumbling blocks to better adoption of Office 365 across the enterprise.

Depending on your SharePoint Online needs, there is help for the user experience issues. For example, Beezy offers tools to enhance the collaboration user experience on Microsoft’s cloud stack. ShareGate is a vendor with roots in the data and site migration space that is differentiating itself on the SharePoint administrative experience across Office 365. Thirdly, there is Akumina, who is bringing their founders knowledge of the site management and content authoring experience and applying it to a new turn-key Office 365 intranet site that they say you’ll be able to use and manage without being a SharePoint expert.

So don’t hold back on getting the most out of your Office 365 investment. Just as with SharePoint on-premises, there are several ways you can address some of the most common gaps in what Microsoft delivers out of the box.

Continue reading
2045 Hits
1 Comment

Microsoft announces new features for CRM solution

Microsoft Corp. unveiled this Tuesday new capabilities it will release in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016, the latest version of its customer engagement solution. 

It enhanced and advanced intelligence, mobility and service, among other areas, with the new enhancements designed to provide a seamless CRM experience. 

“Microsoft’s obsession with customer success is rooted in our ambition to reinvent productivity and business processes,” said Bob Stutz, corporate vice president, Microsoft Dynamics CRM. “Dynamics CRM 2016 is designed from the ground up to deliver core capabilities all in a single system to eliminate distractions, to make it easier to get things done, and to dramatically increase productivity so our customers can spend more time serving their customers.”

Microsoft also released earlier this week the Dynamics CRM Release Preview Guide.

Continue reading
1846 Hits

Microsoft announces first look, features for SharePoint

Sharing is caring, right? After all, we’ve welcomed many business solutions in the past few years allowing us to collaborate with colleagues, clients and customers through services like Microsoft SharePoint.

Microsoft announced yesterday availability of SharePoint Server 2016 IT Preview and a new cloud hybrid search preview for SharePoint Server 2013 and 2016.sharepoint

“One of the more difficult challenges, beyond deploying software, is managing the IT infrastructure to support it,” wrote Bill Baer, SharePoint senior technical product manager. “In many cases, IT investments directly impact the bottom line. SharePoint Server 2016 has been designed to reduce the emphasis on IT and streamline administrative tasks, so IT professionals can concentrate on core competencies and mitigate costs. Tasks that may have taken hours to complete in the past have become simple and efficient processes that allow IT to focus less on day-to-day management and more on innovation.”

Perhaps one of the most exciting developments in the Microsoft announcement is a cloud hybrid search preview, which will allow Office 365 and SharePoint users to retrieve information from on-premises and O365 content with a combined search index in Office 365.

The full announcement and links to download the cloud hybrid search and SharePoint Server 2016 IT Preview are available here.

Continue reading
2131 Hits

D&H offers VAR programs for Win10

Tech distributor D&H Distributing announced today it’s offering new programs, services and training opportunities to support resellers after the recent release of Windows 10. dandh

Its support for VARs includes Windows 10-oriented webcasts and seminars, a Windows 10 Partner Services marketing template and support from D&H’s Microsoft experts on its Solutions Team.

“We’ve had a Windows 10 upgrade path in place for VARs for some time,” said Jeff Davis, senior vice president of sales at D&H Distributing. “We’re looking to support our resellers regarding the new operating system, whether that means helping them educate end-users about new features, identifying the more familiar characteristics of the system, or supporting upgrades and greenfield installations. Based on the responses we’ve gotten to our current trainings, there is huge interest in the channel. We want our VARs to be on top of this transition, reengaging with their end-customers to further entrench themselves as trusted IT providers.”

D&H’s Windows 10 resources are available here.

Continue reading
1822 Hits

Ingram Micro announces expanded availability of MSFT Advisor to CSP service plan

Channel partners are empowered to take control of Office 365 subscriptions through the Microsoft Advisor to Microsoft Channel Solution Provider service plan, which Ingram Micro announced today is now available in 13 countries worldwide. 

The program allows channel partners to convert O365 Advisor subscriptions to the CSP program through Ingram Micro’s Cloud Marketplace, transferring control from the end-user to the channel partner. ingrammicro

“Ingram Micro remains fully aligned with Microsoft to drive channel sales for Microsoft Cloud Solutions,” said Nimesh Dave, executive vice president, global cloud, Ingram Micro. “As the first tier-2 partner to automate the conversion of Microsoft Office 365 Advisor subscriptions to CSP through a single portal, we are excited to deliver a service plan that accelerates the transition and the adoption of CSP.”

Channel partner control of O365 pricing, billing and support will lead to greater profits and retention for the partner, while providing simplicity and stability to the client, according to Ingram Micro.

Continue reading
2031 Hits

Trend Micro Deep Security Available on Azure Marketplace

Security solution provider Trend Micro Incorporated announced yesterday availability of cloud and data center platform Trend Micro Deep Security on the Azure Marketplace.

The solution is designed to extend security provided by Microsoft Azure and help organizations meet their shared security-enhanced responsibilities.

“We are pleased that Trend Micro Deep Security is now available on the Azure Marketplace,” said Nicole Herskowitz, senior director of Product Marketing, Microsoft Azure. “By making Trend Micro Deep Security available on our cloud platform, Trend Micro is providing automated cloud security for Azure workloads to customers around the world.”

Deep Security meets PCI and HIPAA requirements and defends against malware and network attacks.

Continue reading
1940 Hits

Win10 July Availability Announced

Coming in ahead of schedule, Microsoft announced general availability (GA) for its highly-anticipated Windows 10 desktop operating system as of July 29, 2015. This is significant, as I had heard Windows 10 was going to release-to-manufacturing (RTM) in July 2015 and that suggested that GA would have been late August or early September.

Here is the flaw in my old-school RTM thinking: In an agile cloud-based world, there is NO manufacturing to worry about. The product will be downloadable for installation on desktops, laptops and tablets July 29. I’m still checking on when Windows Phones will receive Windows 10.

BTC Large

With retail SKUs gone gone gone, there isn’t the whole MRP-based manufacturing cycle to contend with (think about packaging, etc.). July 29 is it for consumers. I’ve been running Windows 10 on a gest machine and it’s a #win, in that it’s not Windows 8 LOL. Much more context surrounds Windows 10 that I can’t go into know, but interested readers can attend one of five independent Windows 10 pilot workshops in June produced by SMB Nation with Onuora Amobi (Windows 10 Update editor) as the lead presenter and subject matter expert. Early today, Onuora broke the news here:

Learn more and sign up for the tour here:

Finally, the small matter of OEMs and devices remains. I’m hearing that it will be 4Q before OEMs such as Lenovo ship devices with Windows 10. That’s fine, as it’s the holiday shopping season and past the summer vacation season. Windows 10 will miss the back to school surges in August and September, but that’s OK in the grand scheme of things. One other positive is that our 13th annual fall conference October 1-3 at Microsoft Redmond will feature Windows 10 as a pillar conversation and should offer OEM device bars available for attendees to play with.

PS – the official Microsoft announcement about Windows 10 and its general availability July 29 can be found here:

Continue reading
2232 Hits

Harry’s Pick: Addressing the Five (5) Pivot Challenges in a Cloud Practice Transformation Strategy (including Office 365)

idc studyGood morning – Harry here with out-of-band special edition article concerning an amazing IDC study I have just reviewed. As part of my daily activities as your Office 365 ombudsman and independent community advocate, I take my responsibilities very seriously. So when I read Marilyn Carr’s “Building a Cloud Practice: Challenges and Rewards” article, I hit the POST button to get it to you as soon as possible. This is a MUST READ! I’d offer it defines a generation of SMB IT Pros much like the classic book “In Search of Excellence” defined a generation of MBAs (present company included).

Essentially, Carr hits the topic head-on and doesn’t sugar coat the challenges of going from a server-side on-premises world too often defined by break-fix to an Office 365 or cloud consulting practice. Here conversation on the danger of the revenue trough is classic. As I’ve said before and we’ve validated with our Office 365 Nation workshop tour this spring, the business model surrounding Office 365 consulting is very different from my beloved Windows Small Business Server (LOL – RIP).  

You can download the white paper here:

To give you a quick view into Carr’s landmark work, some of the change agent topics include:

  • The Shift to Recurring Revenue
  • The Changes in Sales Model
  • The Changes in Delivery Model

My bottom line. My job is to peruse the body of knowledge concerning Office 365 as an analyst and share with you the most relevant and interesting information and conversations. In a sense, I’m an analytical filter. This study has my endorsement for you to read. Agree with me or not – lemme know what you think: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

You can download the white paper here:

 ANAYST DISCLAIMER: This white paper study by Marilyn Carr was prepared by IDC and funded by Ingram Micro and Microsoft. I do not own any stock in IDC, Ingram Micro or Microsoft.

Continue reading
1917 Hits

D&H Helps VARs to Outfit the Healthy Office

It’s no longer just walking to work—some industry companies are now suggesting walking at work to limit physical stagnation.

Computer products and consumer electronics distributor D&H Distributing supports this, and announced it will offer a height-adjustable desk, ergonomic products and fitness-related items to VARs, after continued in-house efforts to encourage a healthy office.

“The World Health Organization recently identified physical inactivity as the fourth largest killer worldwide, superseding even obesity. Such reports are driving companies to promote more dynamic and comfortable postures for their employees over the course of the day,” said Jeff Davis, senior vice president of sales at D&H Distributing. “Our own management acknowledged this, and realized the trend might point to a new sales opportunity for resellers. Much like our ‘green’ initiatives, this campaign can deliver benefits beyond just technology. It can contribute to the wellness of the workforce.”

Innovative’s Winston Sit/Stand Workstation, adopted by some D&H employees through a company initiative, adjusts in height to accommodate sitting and standing attitudes and negate some effects of a seated working environment.

D&H also offers wearable health monitors from Fitbit and Striiv, ergonomically-designed computer accessories from D&H partners including Microsoft, ParcSlope and SIIG, and complementary products such as the Conair heated massage seat cushion.

Continue reading
2309 Hits
1 Comment

O365 SMB Channel Harmony

Israel-based (pronounced “harmony”) announced yesterday at Microsoft Ignite its new channel partner program for the Office 365 community.

This product essentially brings a single pane of glass to access all Office 365 data stores from Microsoft Outlook or a mobile interface.

I’ll blog about my experience using its product another day, as it gives me simple access to SharePoint instead of the dreaded browser interface. Think of the Outlook snap-in as akin to running Microsoft Dynamics CRM from the CRM snap-in in Outlook and tagging/saving every e-mail, etc. More on the functionality later.

Back to the issue at hand. As I learned more in an interview last week before Ignite, I realized is striking a balance between its intellectual property and its community relations.

I also saw a tacit understanding on the continued need for an intermediary between the ISV and the customer. Products such don’t install themselves, although the 30-day trial I’m running was an easy install.

The affiliate—or partner—opportunity will add more value on top of Office 365 to better use SharePoint et al. Heck, that’s something I can benefit from with my ten-person staff!

"As the adoption of Office 365 accelerates, individual experts and smaller consultancies have an opportunity to play a bigger role in this new 'mobile-first, cloud-first' world," CEO Yaacov Cohen said. "Our Affiliate Partner Program empowers these consultants to have quick and easy access to the collaboration suite of connected apps to help their clients succeed in this new cloud and mobile era."

Office 365 and evolving application technology was discussed last week at the Build Conference by industry professionals including Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

“Applications that you build will now be capable of ‘showing up’ throughout Office so that they do more than any single application on their own,” Nadella said.

Translated, this means Office 365 is being viewed as a platform that will have ISVs delivering apps and tools on top of it. Case in point:

Then, there is the economics of it all. Consultants can quickly obtain a partner ID and then submit purchase orders directly on the partner portal for deals ranging from 15 to 200 users.

All business is sold through, with the referring partner receiving a 15 percent commission upon receiving payment from the customer. For deals involving more than 200 users, Affiliate Partners will work directly with a representative to ensure customer success.

"We are committed to helping companies of any size overcome evolving digital workplace challenges. This is the first of our many partner program enhancements, as we actively cultivate the partner ecosystem in 2015 and help drive this revolution," Cohen said.

Continue reading
2382 Hits
1 Comment

Adobe and Microsoft Partner to Improve Marketing, Sales and Customer Service

Adobe and Microsoft announced at Adobe Summit a strategic partnership focused on redefining management of marketing, sales and services to better engage with customers across all touch points. adobe

Through this partnership, Adobe’s Marketing Cloud Solutions will be integrated with Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM, creating a CRM-marketing solution that helps brands to take all customer engagements into account.

“Helping our customers reinvent productivity and business processes is one of our top priorities. Partnering with Adobe enables us to deliver a comprehensive set of customer engagement processes to enterprise customers to help them be more productive and better engage with their customers,” said Kirill Tatarinov, executive vice president, Microsoft Business Solutions. “The integration of our industry-leading Dynamics CRM solution with Adobe Marketing Cloud will enable business professionals to maximize their investment in technology and deliver breakthroughs in marketing, sales and customer care.”  

Adobe and Microsoft are also working on a connector to enable data and insights from Adobe Analytics to appear in Microsoft’s Power BI.

Continue reading
1873 Hits

Microsoft cuts 2,100 more jobs in phase two of its layoff plan


microsoft logo-100029828-galleryMicrosoft pulled the trigger on another 2,100 employees today, executing the second wave of its record layoff plan that will eventually cut 18,000 positions – 14 percent of its global workforce. The first 13,000 cuts happened in July when the software giant first announced the plan.

Today’s cuts, 747 of which strike the Seattle area, are being made across all roles and teams as CEO Satya Nadella attempts to simplify engineering operations and management processes, as detailed in a July memoto staff. In the memo he said the goal was to have “fewer layers of management, both top down and sideways, to accelerate the flow of information and decision making.”

Of the 18,000 total cuts 12,500 hit the recently acquired Nokia division – an acquisition driven by former CEO Steve Ballmer which Nadella is widely reputed to have opposed.

Also apparently affected by today’s moves is the company’s Mountain View, Calif.-based research facility, Microsoft Research Silicon Valley. The lab, which opened in August 2001 employs more than 75 researchers focused on distributed computing, including Derek Murray who tweeted that the lab would close this Friday, Sept. 18.

With today’s cuts, Microsoft still has 2,900 positions to eliminate – most of which the company says will be resolved by the end of the calendar year. The layoffs are expected to be complete by the end of Microsoft’s fiscal year end in June.


Continue reading
2630 Hits

The week that was – June 6, 2014

Your weekly roundup of IT news for the channel

LabTech creates App Exchange for RMM with open source Synergy Platform

LabTech-logoLabTech Software announced the launch of new capabilities that will allow third party developers – from software vendors and MSPS – to build onto the company’s RMM platform, customizing for the needs of their own businesses and potentially opening up new revenue streams. The Labtech Synergy Platform, which has been in beta for a year, will include fundamental APIs and an app exchange where MSPs and ISVs can sell the solutions they’ve developed to other users. “If you can imagine something in LabTech that you want to do, you can create it,” LabTech Software CEO Matt Nachtrab said at the Automation Nation 2014 conference in Orlando. “Anything you can imagine in LabTech you can turn into innovation.”

Staples takes pre-orders for new Microsoft Tablet

staples logoStaples is taking pre-orders for the new Microsoft Surface Pro 3 – the new 12 inch tablet that Microsoft is hoping will give a major boost its tablet business when it hits the streets June 20th. The Surface Pro 3, which will be priced in the $800-plus range, is driven by a fourth gen Intel Core processor and comes with Windows 8.1 Pro pre-loaded and includes the full Microsoft Office suite and a new Surface Pen. The target market is small businesses and students – users who might want a laptop-type experience in a more mobile form factor. According to research from research analyst firm Gartner, tablets based on the Windows operating system, make up about 2.1 percent of the global market – well behind Android (61.9 percent) and iOS (36 percent).

And in related news…

HP unveils Windows-based HP Pro x2 612 Tablet-Notebook

HP-logo2Hewlett-Packardhas announced the HP Pro x2 612, a full-featured Windows-based notebook with a detachable tablet screen. The new device, which is a major move in the fight for the notebook tablet market, features a 12.5-inch screen and comes with an HP Power Keyboard that gives the product 14 hours of battery life. The HP tablet will use Intel Core i3 and i5 processors with options for Intel Celeron and Pentium and will ship in early September. HP didn’t reveal pricing for the system however it is expected to sell for several hundred dollars less than the Surface Pro 3. While the HP product beats the Surface Pro 3 in all these areas, the biggest advantage it has in the SMB market may be the broad channel community that will be able to sell it. The Microsoft product is available only through select retailers (like Staples), from Microsoft itself and 10 Large Account Resellers.

Fonality launches New Partner Marketing Program

fonality-01Dallas, TX-based Fonality, a vendor of open-source VoIP and Unified Communications, announced Marketing 360 – a new partner marketing program that it hopes will help boost its channel business to hit 50 percent of overall revenue by the end of the year. Marketing 360 is an online resource that includes numerous new partner resources, incentives and marketing tools, including co-branded email campaign templates, monthly marketing webinars, sales presentations, and end user case studies and testimonials. This is just the latest of several changes Fonality has made to its partner program over the past few months. Other moves included a new compensation model that lets partners receive an up-front commission, in addition to monthly recurring revenue, on sales of hosted UC services so partners can pay off their salespeople quickly, and the Fonality Partner Exchange online community. Currently Fonality does about 45 percent of its business through the channel and has roughly 2,500 partners worldwide.

Amazon adds Windows Server 2012 R2 to AWS

Amazon web servicesAWS is shoring up the functionality of its cloud, this time by introducing its main rival’s own newest operating system – Windows Server 2012 R2. Offering Microsoft’s most advanced server OS eliminates a significant competitive advantage that Microsoft Azure enjoyed over AWS and levels the playing field between the two public cloud players. Windows Server 2012 R2 added new features and functionality to Microsoft’s popular server operating system including tiered storage capabilities through which the OS shuffles data between the fastest memory devices available on the system, improving overall performance. The new OS option will be available to all AWS customers, including those who fall in the Free Usage Tier, according to Amazon.

Yorktel acquires MultiSense, Expedite VCS

Logo-Yorktel-Tagline-RGB-LARGE.ashx Eatontown, NJ-based Yorktel, a global unified communications vendor, has acquired two video service providers increasing its market share in crucial industries: MultiSense Communications, a British firm with a focus on the health care vertical, and Expedite VCS, which delivers a solid public sector customer base including distance learning, corporate communications and telejustice. Yorktel’s VideoCloud delivers videoconferencing-as-a-service, with its cloud infrastructure situated mostly at Equinix data centers in the U.S., U.K. and Singapore. According to Greg Douglas, Yorktel’s executive vice president of sales, multipoint videoconferencing is a natural fit for health care and government – markets that mix demand for high quality face to face distance communications but have significant security demands. Last year Yorktel began offering channel partners white-label solutions and support, allowing them to resell videoconferencing solutions under their own brand. These new acquisitions will broaden the solutions channel partners can brand as their own, says Douglas.

WAN Op startup Aryaka expands global channel

Aryaka logoWAN optimization startup Aryaka is recruiting partners and expanding its global channel footprint while continuing to take aim squarely at chief competitor Riverbed Technology. Currently Milpitas, Calif.-based Aryaka does about 25 percent of its business through about 30 channel resellers, but the goal is to get as close to 100 percent as possible. The company also said it's received $10 million in Series D funding from existing investors InterWest Partners, Presidio Ventures, Nexus Venture Partners, Trinity Ventures and Mohr Davidow Ventures, bringing total VC investments to $64 million.

Continue reading
3869 Hits

Action Pack Updates – Harrybbb Style!

A few weeks ago I reported that the Cloud Essentials title was being rolled into the Microsoft Action Pack (MAPS). It was an odd fit coming on the heels of Microsoft announcing a huge gain in cloud-based Office 365 earnings.

This past week, I received some additional insights into that roll-up strategy. Turns out that Microsoft is “cloud,” with its devices and services strategy and, ergo, MAPS is now more “cloudy” so that Cloud Essentials didn’t need to be an outlier. In other words, anything and everything cloud is mainstream at Microsoft. Thus the consolidation.

Photo credit: Microsoft Action Pack

Continue reading
4762 Hits
1 Comment

Microsoft and DocuSign Enter Into Partnership, Bring eSignature Apps to Office 365

Microsoft DocuSignMicrosoft Corp. and DocuSign recently announced that they have entered into a long-term strategic alliance through which DocuSign would be able to make its e-signature apps accessible to users on the Microsoft Office 365 platform. As of this week’s release, DocuSign apps will shortly be available for Microsoft Word, Outlook and SharePoint (Server and Online).

Continue reading
2194 Hits

Microsoft Changes Name of SkyDrive Program

Microsoft LogoWe recently saw a community blog from Mary Jo Foley, Contributing Author, ZDNet that covered the recent announcement from Microsoft regarding the SkyDrive name change. Looking more into this, we found that the name change came about as the result of a legal trademark battle between Microsoft and British Sky Broadcasting over the use of the word “sky.”

Continue reading
2330 Hits

Microsoft and GoDaddy announce strategic partnership to help small businesses

Microsoft LogoMicrosoft and GoDaddy today announced that they have entered into a long-term strategic alliance that would allow GoDaddy to offer Microsoft’s Office365 solution as its core business-class e-mail solution for its customers. In particular, this would allow GoDaddy’s SMB clients to have a professional, specially designed e-mail offering with their unique domain.

Continue reading
2746 Hits

Microsoft Free Public Event: Server Virtualization with Windows Server Hyper-V and System Center Jump Start

Microsoft LogoMicrosoft recently announced that they will be hosting a free training event for the public to learn more about Server Virtualization with Windows Server Hyper-V and System Center Jump Start. This event will be hosted by the company’s IT Pro Evangelism Team, in association with the Microsoft Learning (LEX) and Virtual Academy, and will be presented by Symon Perriman, Senior Technical Evangelist, Microsoft and Corey Hynes, President, holSystems.

Continue reading
2576 Hits

7 Things Your SMB Customers Need to Know About End of Support for Windows XP

Cindy BatesBy Cindy Bates, Vice President of US SMB&D at Microsoft

The world looked a lot different when Windows XP was first introduced in 2001 than it does today. Since then, major technology advancements, such as cloud computing and virtualization, have given rise to better collaboration tools, greater mobility and flexibility to work from any location, and improved PC security and management. Now small businesses can leverage the same powerful technologies as large enterprises, at an affordable cost.

Continue reading
4189 Hits
1 Comment

D&H Distributing Sponsors Windows XP Migration “Million Mile Tour”

DH-80px round 95thD&H Distributing said today that it has joined the Windows XP Migration Million Mile Tour as an official sponsor. The North America tour is bringing together small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to learn about the forthcoming April 8, 2014, deadline at which time support for Windows XP will terminate.

Continue reading
2833 Hits

Lenovo Sponsors Windows XP Migration “Million Mile Tour”

million mile tourSMB Nation today announced that Lenovo, the world’s largest PC manufacturer, has joined the Windows XP Migration Million Mile Tour as an official sponsor. The North America tour is bringing together small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to learn about the forthcoming April 8, 2014 deadline at which time support for Windows XP will terminate.

Continue reading
2344 Hits
1 Comment

My First Date with Windows 8.1

windows 8one networkI’ve always had a wandering eye for sexy user interfaces (UI). For it was I who worked on an early Apple Lisa computer when the IBM PC ruled. I quickly followed by purchasing an original Macintosh and salivated at the famous 1984 Super Bowl commercial reflecting the Orwellian “Big Brother” message of shattering conventional wisdom, and the MS-DOS view of the world. I raised the flag for the Windows NT Advanced Server release in the early 1990s when my fellow NetWare red heads sneered at the “comical” UI. We’re at the point again in our IT history. Windows 8.1 is here complete with the Start button the early “eight haters” missed so much.

Continue reading
4339 Hits

Windows 8.1 is Ready – Download Now

Windows 8.1A day ahead of retail availability, you can now download Windows 8.1 from the Windows Store. There are many important reasons to do this. First – you’ve got your START BUTTON back! And there is the Lock App screen, helpful hints including the new Help+Tips app, new Mail app, improved People view, new desktop themes, improved power menu, IE 11 reading view, improved tracking protections, more disclosure in Express settings, and SkyDrive acts as a local file manager. Plus there are a lot of internal programmatic patches/fixes and updates but these aren’t as dramatic as you might think. Why? Because the reality is the periodic updates (yes – where you reboot your machine or it automatically does so in three days) incorporate patch pacing – a different paradigm from Patch Tuesday. Does that make sense?

Continue reading
3194 Hits

Urgent: Download Our XP Migration Guide Now!

Q3 CoverSeriously – this is our PhD thesis on the Windows XP migration matter. It looks at the situation from the obvious market measurement and deadline perspectives to the cost of keeping an aging PC to look forward alternatives such as, eeek, cloud solutions.

Continue reading
3462 Hits

Real Men *Do* Cry: Steve Ballmer’s Tearful Exit Speech Reveals his True Feelings

ballmer2 webYou could say that some men are “in touch with their feminine sides,” but stereotypically it wouldn’t be something that you’d often see from a world leader, high-profile athlete or a mega-CEO like say, Donald Trump, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos or Apple CEO Tim Cook. However, outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is another story…Ballmer not only showed his raw emotions, breaking down during his exit speech earlier this week—he showed his true emotions center stage at Seattle’s Key Arena in front of his 13,000 employees.

Continue reading
4607 Hits

The Top 5 Roadblocks to Successful XP Migrations (and how to Overcome them)

XP infographicAccording to a recent survey sponsored by Quest Software and conducted by Dimensional Research, companies of all sizes are grappling with a host of migration issues and concerns. A poll of nearly 500 IT professionals with responsibility for corporate desktops and laptops at global organizations revealed that 47 percent still haven’t completed their migrations off Windows XP. As industry averages for the time needed to complete an OS migration range between 12 to 24 months, it’s clear that many in-process migrations won’t be completed before Microsoft’s April 2014 end-of-support deadline for Windows XP.

Continue reading
3380 Hits

Crawl, Walk, Run: Microsoft’s Nokia Acquisition

NokiaLumia925 01 PageIt started as a first date in February 2011 when Microsoft made a small strategic investment in Nokia. Here is how it ended: Microsoft got married over the weekend to Nokia’s Devices and Services unit for a dowry of $7.2 billion. That price includes $2 billion for patents. On paper, it makes perfect sense. But for every action, there is a reaction.

Continue reading
3285 Hits

Microsoft SkyDrive Pro Updates

office365We recently received news from our contact at Microsoft concerning changes to the SkyDrive Pro cloud storage for business system.  There are three main updates that are designed to simplify use and adoption of the SkyDrive system.

First, Microsoft announced that they are upgrading all user accounts from 7GB to 25GB of storage. Office 365 developers, Mark Kashman and Tejas Mehta explained in a blog this week that the overall storage per user would be 25GB of SkyDrive data, plus 25GB of e-mail data, plus 5GB per mailbox you create, plus total available tenant storage. 

Continue reading
3092 Hits

Jon Roskill Steps Down as Microsoft’s Channel Chief, Company Vet Phil Sorgen Named Successor

Jon Roskill MSFTIt’s been quite a week at Microsoft as it relates to personnel changes and announcements. First, Steve Ballmer, the company’s longtime CEO announced last Friday that he plans to retire in the coming year. Now, today, we heard from the tech giant that Channel Chief Jon Roskill (pictured) is stepping down from the position he served in for the last three years.

Continue reading
5866 Hits

Windows XP Migration Thought Leader Series: Eric Townsend (Intel)

Eric Townsend IntelWho better than Eric Townsend (pictured) to offer observations on the Windows XP migration matter? Widely recognized as the busiest man in the channel, his professional life mirrors that of the George Clooney character who travels 1 million+ miles in the movie “Up in the Air”! Even with his super busy schedule, we were able to corner Townsend earlier this week for a wide-ranging conversation about April 8, 2014 and the Windows XP migration matter.

Continue reading
3958 Hits

Ready to Start? Windows 8.1 RTMs…but…

harryb testing windows8 1 webSources close to the top have confirmed that Windows 8.1 has released to manufacturing (RTM) and is on the way. The rumor, which is now fact, was leaked last Friday (perhaps to defer attention on the retirement announcement concerning Steve Ballmer). Like many readers, I’ve been running the Windows 8.1 Preview on a few machines for the past few months. I even have my sons and wife playing around with it on the family PC in the TV room. The consensus: We like it!

Continue reading
4277 Hits

Hang on Fast – Ballmer out!

ballmer2 webActually, it was a brilliant move on Microsoft’s part, when they announced Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s pending retirement (last week) on a slow news day--a Friday in late August. Better yet–the Ballmer news competed with the Windows 8.1 Release To Manufacturing (RTM) rumor, so it was diluted. It’s right out of the Washington DC political playbook: Release bad news on a Friday in late August!

Continue reading
4085 Hits

D&H Honored by Microsoft for Operational Excellence

DH-80px round 95thD&H Distributing announced today that it has won Microsoft’s Platinum Level Operational Excellence Award. The company was rewarded for its ability to deliver operational excellence supporting Microsoft technology over the past year.

Continue reading
2226 Hits

Microsoft’s Ballmer Set to Retire from Top Spot within 12 Months

ballmer webEven though it’s a Friday in the summer, it seems as though most offices are like ghost towns with relaxed summer schedules, and everyone taking vacation before the “unofficial” end of summer Labor Day holiday. However, this is not the case at Microsoft, where it is business as usual. With that being said. You have to be still sleeping or living in a cave to have not heard by now, that this morning, the tech giant announced that its CEO Steve Ballmer announced his retirement from the top post within the next 12 months.

Continue reading
3593 Hits

Windows XP Migration Thought Leader Series: Rolling Thunder - Tim Rains Speaks About Forever Zero Day

harryb timrains smallJust when you thought August was a slow news month, along came Tim Rains’ blog last week, in which he called the day after April 8, 2014, when extended support for Windows XP terminates, as the “endless zero day.” His comments were picked up by several news outlets, including Mary Jo Foley, EyeOnWindows (formerly Windows 8 Update) and Redmond Channel Partner magazine.  So I reached out to Rains to get the story behind the stories.

Continue reading
3620 Hits

Microsoft Takes Narrow Lead in Antivirus Vendor Market

gI 81052 market-share-reports-press-release-imageOPSWAT today released its market share report, which includes analysis of antivirus, peer-to-peer, backup, and antiphishing application usage worldwide. In addition to market share coverage, the report provides a comprehensive breakdown of the most popular products in their respective category and how often certain product features are enabled.

Continue reading
3113 Hits

Windows 8.1 to Launch October 18

windows8-1 date 046BADC9We heard today that Windows 8.1 will be released on the morning of October 18. We first reported that Microsoft was going to release a Windows 8 update known as “Microsoft Windows Blue.” Then this past May, the company said it would be releasing an update known as Windows 8.1, which will be a free update to Windows 8 for consumers through the Windows Store.

Continue reading
3239 Hits

On this Day…Another View of Windows XP Migrations

XP infographicToday is August 8, and there’s just eight months left before the April 8, 2014 end-of-life/service deadline for Windows XP (plus Small Business Server 2003, Office 2003 and anything Server 2003 including Exchange). Yesterday, I was having a conversation with an analyst about what April 8, 2014 really means…will that date live in infamy?

Continue reading
3008 Hits
0 Comments Launched to Assist SMBs with Windows XP Device Upgrades, a new co-op community of talented expert certified SMB IT Pros (“Geeks”), was launched today for the purpose of assisting small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) with upgrading away from Windows XP prior to the April 8, 2014 end-of-life deadline.

Continue reading
4217 Hits

Oops…My Bad! 5 Blogs We Missed Last Week

Here we go again! As I do each week, I am really enjoying bringing our readers a quick round-up of the blog coverage I didn’t manage to get to during the week prior.

 In addition, here at SMB Nation, we are already gearing up for our annual fall event to be held Oct. 10-12 in Las Vegas at the Rio! We have been hard at work designing a brand new Web site specifically for this event, which you must check out today: For additional information on the new Web site and our fall conference, check out our blog post here.

Speaking of live events, yours truly will be attending this week’s ASCII Group Summit stop at Caesar’s in Atlantic City, NJ. I will be working the booth on the show floor, promoting both our Fall Conference and newly announced SMB Nation Peer Groups. Stop on by, and give a shout if you are attending, and let’s chat!

Continue reading
3774 Hits


With just 11 days into July, and the new fiscal year just beginning this month, it’s true that changes will always occur. In fact, just after the July 4th holiday, Kaseya was in the news, yet again, this time announcing that it had acquired Zyrion, a provider of cloud and IT service monitoring software solutions.

Aside from all of the M&As that are ongoing within the RMM and MSP circles, it’s no surprise that Microsoft is also making its voice heard regarding realigments and restructuring. With the tech giant holding its annual WPC event in Houston this week, of course there has been buzz about new products, new strategies and new services for both end users and partners. But today, Microsoft posted a blog that contained the full text of an email from Steve Ballmer, the company’s CEO regarding changes in the senior leadership team at the company.

Pictured: Steve Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft, discusses the "new Microsoft" with employees today.

Continue reading
2819 Hits
1 Comment

Microsoft WPC: Chinook Communications Launches Total Connect UC Package via Lync

And the news out of Microsoft’s WPC event this week just keeps on a comin!

Chinook Communications said today that it has made enhancements to Total Connect, a fully integrated advanced collaboration and communication bundle for SMBs. The Total Connect updates are enabled by Chinook Communication’s production release of Microsoft’s Lync Server 2013 Multitenant Hosting Pack.

Continue reading
2614 Hits

Microsoft WPC: #WIN8.1

Windows 8 1 PreviewWhy? Why didn’t Microsoft do this the first time? It was as simple as a Start button!

This past weekend, I geeked out in my man cave (maybe I should call it a man cove as I live on an island) and installed the new Windows 8.1 Preview. I completely document the Windows 8.1 Preview deployment experience here in a 10-minute video. You will witness the “real world” as I seek to go where no Harrybbb has gone before: using Windows 8.1. I encountered a few challenges along the way, including the inability to redirect the installation to Drive D, and how the installation must be completed on a monitor in landscape, not portrait mode.

Continue reading
3576 Hits

Microsoft WPC: Now versus Then – 2013 vs. 2003

This year’s Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) is interesting to me as it allows a moment of reflection. Ten years ago, WPC 2003 in New Orleans was focused on SMB and the Windows Small Business Server 2003 (SBS) launch. In 2013, on day one, I was hard-pressed to “hear” the term SMB in any of the keynotes. Sure, Tami Reller, CMO and CFO-Windows, mentioned SMB once in passing, but it wasn’t the same. Rather – the conference messaging pillars were much more focused on the enterprise with BIG DATA, Cloud, Enterprise Social and Devices and Mobility. You will see more SMB messaging in the breakouts and Cindy Bates “Regional Keynote” on Thursday but it’s not 2003, baby.

Continue reading
3085 Hits

Microsoft Launches Devices Program to Bring Surface via the Channel

We heard yesterday from Microsoft that the company has formally launched its new Microsoft Devices program to bring its Microsoft Surface tablet to the channel.  As outlined in a blog posted by Jenni Flinders, Microsoft’s VP US Partner Group, the new program will involve the Surface device to be distributed via a partner ecosystem that can sell the device to organizations of all sizes; participating distributors include Ingram Micro, SYNNEX Corporation and Tech Data. Resellers included in the program are: CDW, CompuCom Systems, Inc., En Pointe Technologies, Insight Enterprises, Inc., PC Connection, Inc., PCM, Inc., Softchoice, Softmart, SHI International Corp., and Zones Inc.

Continue reading
3171 Hits

Raising Your Hand – Discussing Trustworthy Computing!

The timing couldn’t have been better following the NSA whistleblower matter. I recently met with Microsoft executive Tim Rains to review his new study titled “Bridging the Gap: Cloud Computing Delivers Surprise Silver Lining for Business,” which focuses on security and reliability. But first–a wee bit of background on the whole trustworthy computing initiative inside Microsoft.

Click on the image at right to view my chat with Tim Rains.

Continue reading
2971 Hits

Hey SBSer – Did you Forget about June 30, 2013?

What a difference a year makes. Last year at this time, on July 5, 2012, Microsoft announced the end-of-life (EOL) for the acclaimed Windows Small Business Server (SBS) product line. It was a shot heard around the world and dominated community discussions for several months. Yesterday (June 30, 2013) was the shot no one heard. It’s interesting how such a trending topic faded so quickly.

Continue reading
7406 Hits
1 Comment

Cloud|AG, SkyKick Team Up to Migrate Clients to Office 365

In an effort to help drive down the cost and complexity of migrating clients to Office 365, Cloud|AG has selected SkyKick as their cloud migration service of choice.

Continue reading
5096 Hits

Microsoft/Yammer Acquisition: One-Year Later

Today marks one year since Microsoft announced its acquisition of Yammer, a provider of enterprise social networks. Since the acquisition, Microsoft’s enterprise social momentum has accelerated in all areas, including new users, paid customers, user engagement, innovation, and the ecosystem of partners selling and connecting to the Yammer platform.

Continue reading
2708 Hits

Now Streaming Live: National Small Biz Week!

Yesterday marked the beginning of National Small Business Week, which since 1963, has been recognizing the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. In conjunction with the Small Business Administration (SBA) Microsoft is hosting its National Small Business Week activities, which began yesterday at its Redmond Campus.

Continue reading
4815 Hits
1 Comment

First Look – Office 365 on iPhone

Late last week Microsoft broke bread with Apple when its Office 365 application was released on the Apple App Store (read our blog here for the back story). Here is my experience thus far using the application.

Note: Click on the accompanying image for a quick video on this new app.

Continue reading
3559 Hits

Microsoft Creates Office 365 Mobile App for iPhone Users

We were alerted today by Microsoft that Office 365 subscribers who are iPhone users can now, conveniently take advantage of a free Apple Store Apps known as “Office Mobile for iPhone.

Continue reading
4114 Hits

National Small Business Week to Focus on the Benefits of Technology, Entrepreneurship

This coming Monday kicks off the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) annual National Small Business Week, which will include meetings and celebrations throughout the country.  In conjunction with the SBA, Microsoft is hosting its Small Business Week activities on June 17 at its Redmond Campus.

Continue reading
2844 Hits

Best Kept SMB Biz Dev Secret Revealed – Win a Surface Pro Tablet!

MCCLeading MSPs don’t want me to tell you about the following for these reasons:

  1.      Customer acquisition costs. Using the technique I’m about the share, the cost for acquiring customers for your SMB IT consulting practice has fallen to nearly zero. That’s a “free good” in economics and is something rarer than unicorn sightings! All at no cost to you.
  2.      Newbies rule. By signing up for “the program” (before June 30) I’ll reveal in the next paragraph, you will be entered into a drawing for a full-on Windows 8 Surface Pro. Your odds of winning are amazing for three reasons.
  3.      Existing program members aren’t eligible so this is the one time the laggards are actually rewarded!
  4.      Only the first 100-sign-ups are entered into the drawing. Don’t be 101!
  5.      I can’t join the contest or otherwise manipulate the system. Remember that SMB Nation prides itself on ethical behavior. It’s just wrong to have the inside track on the Windows 8 Surface Pro tablet but I too really want one.


Continue reading
3312 Hits

ThinkGrid’s Ceano Platform Enables VARs to Manage, Configure, Sell Instant IT Services

ThinkGrid, a cloud enablement platform vendor for the channel, has launched ThinkGrid Ceano, which is designed to provide channel partners with a comprehensive range of on-demand IT Services for their SMB customers which they can order, sell, configure and manage through an online portal. ThinkGrid Ceano also gives SMB customers access to the latest applications and infrastructure offerings from vendors such as Microsoft and VMware. 

Continue reading
2729 Hits

Microsoft to Offer “Accelerator Kits” to 100 Partners

Microsoft LogoWe recently received news that Microsoft will be offering a “Special Edition Office Accelerator Kit” to the first 100 partners who register to host a Microsoft Community Connections event to showcase the new office. The Microsoft Community Connections program is designed to foster local networking and education for small businesses.

Continue reading
3315 Hits

Microsoft Announces (and Congratulates) its US Partners of the Year

Microsoft today drew our attention to a blog post highlighting its US Partners of the Year, who will be recognized and awarded for their accomplishments in July at the company’s Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston. 

Continue reading
2366 Hits

Dell to Enable Hyper-V, Windows Server 2012 Support for OpenStack

Dell LogoDell said that it will now enable Microsoft Windows Server Hyper-V as a viable hypervisor choice for the OpenStack cloud platform. This development, which is the first instance of a technology vendor enabling Windows Server Hyper-V hypervisor on OpenStack for private clouds, will give customers additional flexibility and choice to run OpenStack workloads within their existing Windows Server environments.

Continue reading
3498 Hits

Microsoft Windows 8 Update to be known as “Windows 8.1”

Last week we blogged that Microsoft is making changes to its Windows 8 OS, reportedly naming it Microsoft Blue. Today, we heard that the company has now renamed this initiative Windows 8.1.  

Continue reading
3845 Hits

48 Hour Refer-A-Friend Available for WPC 2013

WPC 2013 logoMicrosoft today released news that they are running a 48-hour “Refer-a-Colleague” program for the upcoming WPC event in Houston, TX. Under this program, current registered attendees are eligible to receive a $100.00 refund for referring a new attendee to the event. In addition, anyone who is referenced will have $100.00 taken off of the final conference price.  

Continue reading
2303 Hits

ManageEngine Adds Auditing Capabilities to Exchange Reporter Plus

Manage EngineManageEngine said today that it has added change auditing and mailbox access monitoring to Exchange Reporter Plus, its Exchange server reporting software. Now, Exchange Reporter Plus can report and alert on critical Exchange events that carry security or compliance implications. In turn, organizations can use Exchange Reporter Plus to implement or enhance an email security and compliance program that easily demonstrates regulatory compliance and prevents data leaks.

Continue reading
3255 Hits
1 Comment

Sprint Offering Office 365 to SMBs for Quick Cloud Communication, Collaboration

Enhancements to cloud-enabled Microsoft Office 365 offered by Sprint will make it even easier for SMBs to collaborate and communicate from virtually anywhere they are, whether in the office or on the go.

Continue reading
5785 Hits

Microsoft to Offer 15% Discount on Windows 8 Pro, Office Upgrades

In response to yesterday’s report by various analysts that Microsoft Windows 8 has not been able to curb declining PC sales, the tech giant said it will offer SMBs (up to 249 users) a 15% discount on the combined price of Windows 8 Pro and Office 2013 upgrades if they buy before the end of June 2013. 

Continue reading
3510 Hits

Kagan Says: Microsoft Windows 8 Failing to Rescue PC Sales

Earlier today we posted a report by analyst firm IDC stating that PC sales experienced the steepest declines in the last quarter. IDC stated that shipments fell 14 percent—the sharpest drop since they began tracking this data almost 20 years ago; even more, the analyst firm added that this is the fourth straight quarter of decline.

Continue reading
2643 Hits

Dell OEM Signs New Licensing Agreement with Microsoft

Dell’s OEM Solutions division today announced that they have entered into a new licensing agreement with Microsoft that allows them to become a tier-one global distributor of Windows Embedded solutions. As of April 1, 2013, Dell OEM can include COA licenses with their own products, which is expected to streamline order processes and lead times.

Continue reading
2712 Hits

Microsoft Quietly Launches “Touch Win” Campaign With Distys and DMRs

Late last month, Microsoft OEM executive Peter Han (Vice President, US OEM) provided a sneak preview of the April 1 “Touch Win” campaign. Ironically, it’s not an April Fool’s joke. Rather, the “Touch Win” campaign is being adopted by distributors such as D&H Distributing, and DMRs such as CDW.

Continue reading
4409 Hits

Tech Analyst: Windows XP Users Still Hanging On

According to a press release issued today by tech analyst Jeff Kagan, Windows XP users are still hanging on to old times. “With all the talk about Windows Vista, 7 and 8, the truth is roughly one-third of all users may still be on XP and staying put,” Kagan says.

Continue reading
2667 Hits

Former Oracle Exec Judson Althoff Tapped to Lead Microsoft Sales & Marketing

Microsoft late yesterday announced that Judson Althoff , who most recently served as an executive at Oracle, has been tapped for the role of president, North America Sales & Marketing, and corporate vice president. Althoff will manage a team of sales, marketing and services professionals across the U.S. and Canada, within a division that was a significant contributor to Microsoft's $73 billion in revenue in fiscal year 2013. 

Continue reading
2807 Hits

Microsoft Plans to End-of-Life Support for Windows 7.8, 8 Phones in 2014

Last summer, we reported that Microsoft announced (over the July 4th weekend) that it was planning to end of life its Windows Small Business Server (SBS). According to a blog report posted on July 10 by Harrybbb, the tech giant said that effectively, July 5, 2012, would be the last day for future sales for the product. Alternatively, Microsoft would be offering an on-prem hybrid alternative with windows Server 2012 Essentials. 

Continue reading
10741 Hits