Windows 8 Is Here

Windows 8 is here…are you ready for it? Most likely the answer is no, and that’s ok. Windows 8 is different, but it is still the same. Confused? Don’t be. When you turn on Windows 8 you are greeted with a new desktop called the start screen. It is bright and colorful with little boxes that display pictures and information. These boxes are called tiles and they are how you will launch nearly all of your applications. It is nearly all of your applications because some older applications have not joined Microsoft’s Metro User Interface revolution yet. That’s ok, because Microsoft left a little of what we know and love about our trusty old desktops and start menus in Windows 8 for just that purpose. Even some of Microsoft’s own tools have yet to get the face-lift; the control panel still uses the old style interface.

Back to the start screen. Did I mention it was colorful? It is also designed for touch. Windows 8 is very touch-oriented, supporting a wide range of touch gestures like pinch to zoom. On the Start screen, you can pinch and zoom out to show more tiles, so you don’t have to swipe across page after page of tiles to find the app you are looking for. The tiles are great. Live tiles feed you information like current weather, recent status updates or tweets from friends, and last email message received. Swipe from the sides and get additional menus for features like search or settings to change background images or screen resolution. Just touch the menu item – known as a charm – or tile you want and launch the application.

If all this talk about touching, swiping, and pinching has you thinking you have to run out and get a computer with a touch screen, think again. Your mouse will do just fine helping you navigate Windows 8. Moving the mouse to the edges or corners will fly out the menus, just like your finger swiping. Microsoft calls this action: using your mouse to explore the sides and corners. Clicking a tile is just like clicking an icon on your desktop in the good old days, or yesterday.

New Metro style apps will take on the same characteristics for navigation as the operating system, hiding toolbars and menus off screen awaiting your swipe to bring them into existence or our mouse pointer to sniff them out like a bloodhound. What about my older apps that don’t use the Metro Interface? Don’t worry… remember that little bit of old school Windows Microsoft left sprinkled around Windows 8? When you launch a classic style application, you will be transported to a familiar looking desktop with your Application running nicely and looking just like it did in Windows 7.

With all these changes to the way you operate, why don’t we change the way you install software. Microsoft has joined the app store trend and now, right from Windows 8, you connect to the app store, choose the app you want, and it downloads and installs. When the installation completes, just like on a smart phone or tablet, your new application is ready to go.

Windows 8 is very versatile and able to run on desktops and laptops as well as tablets. Yes, Windows 8 is available on tablets. Windows 8 RT runs on tablets just like the iPad and the various Android tablets. The only downfall is that Windows 8 RT will only run apps designed for the RT version of Windows 8. Take heart, Microsoft has a new tablet of its own design, Microsoft Surface Pro, scheduled for release in the first part of 2013 that runs Windows 8 Pro and should be capable of running any Windows 8 application on the market. It will also be able to join a Windows Server network like a regular workstation. The Surface Pro will be like a tablet and workstation in one.

This is only the briefest review of the new features and changes Windows 8 has to offer. Windows 8 looks to be a fresh exciting update to the Windows family. While Microsoft claims your existing software running on Windows 7 will run on Windows 8, be sure you test it out and check with the developer to make sure it is supported and has been tested with Windows 8 before you start replacing your desktops. Jacobs and Company B.I.T.S. will be evaluating Windows 8, soon and testing it with many of today’s common apps like QuickBooks and Adobe Acrobat as well as with some industry specific apps like practice management solutions and tax accounting software. As we work more with Windows 8 we will be sharing more news and reviews of the new Operating System in our newsletter and blog.

Moving Your Files To The Cloud

As the number of businesses that plan to move files and applications increases, the cloud grows at a very high rate, as well. What is the cloud you may ask? The cloud is any network of computer systems whose borders and makeup are not well-defined, which means that accessing resources on a network such as word documents or applications such as databases is less about being physically connected to the network and more about being able to access those same resources easily and seamlessly from anywhere in the world.

There are three types of clouds. The public cloud is a cloud solution that hosts resources entirely on the internet and none of the data is stored on your physical network or local hard drive. Access to resources is usually through a website-based, content management system like SharePoint or Joomla. In direct contrast to the public cloud is the private cloud. All of the files and applications are located on servers and computers directly managed by you or your company. Resources are made available to remote users via a VPN or other secure remote connection technology. Often applications and data will be replicated to other locations managed by you or your company to improve disaster recovery. Content management systems like the ones mentioned earlier can also be used to organize and provide access to data. In contrast to the earlier scenario, these content management applications are entirely controlled and managed by internal staff. And somewhere in the middle is the hybrid cloud. Data is stored, accessed, and replicated between sites managed internally; however, some data if not all is also replicated to a public cloud service either for backup and disaster recovery or for access from outside the local network.

Vendors such as Netgear, Iomega, and Cisco offer simple network storage devices that let small businesses quickly implement private and hybrid clouds. Public cloud solutions like Office 365 from Microsoft or offerings from providers like Amazon and RackSpace are also available for businesses of any size to build their cloud solutions. No matter what type of cloud you choose, the goal is still the same: to improve reliability and accessibility for workers across multiple devices like tablets and smart phones. Proper planning is the first step in taking a leap into the clouds, and working with a trusted, knowledgeable technology partner will make the leap easier.

iOS Security

Do you check email from your iPhone? Do you review or edit documents on your iPad? What about checking your bank account online from your device? Mobile devices like traditional computers are not immune to attacks that can compromise their security. iPhones and iPads are stolen every day, making the data on them available to the thief. iOS can even get viruses. The good news is that there are a few things you can do to help make your device more secure.

At the front line of your defense is a passcode. This is the easiest security measure you can add to the device. You may choose a simple four digit code; however, the better option is to turn off simple passwords and use an alphanumeric password with special characters that is at least 8 characters long. On the passcode lock screen, you should also turn on the erase data feature. After ten failed attempts to unlock the phone all data will be erased. Setting the auto lock to the shortest time of one minute will increase the likelihood that your device will be locked if someone picks it up or it is found in the back of a cab.

Setting up and installing the iCloud service on the device has a number of benefits, as well. The iCloud service can act like a digital LoJack. If your device is lost, you can log into the iCloud Site and see where your device is on a map within one hundred yards. You can then have it make a noise until it is found and display a message on the screen. If all hope of recovering the device is lost, you can use the iCloud service to send a command to the device to wipe it, removing all of your data and apps so the thief has no hope of accessing it.

IT can further manage devices that connect to the company network using mobile device management software to enforce company passcode policies, manage email accounts, and remotely wipe a device.

Securing your mobile device is important and could save you or your company from a catastrophic loss of data. Taking these few simple steps can help protect you, your company, your data, and your device from loss, theft, and theft of data.

March Of The 7 Inch Tablets

Smaller tablets are all the rage in the world of mobile technology today. Slightly larger than a DVD case, the 7″ tablet is not new, but there is a new player on the field. On October 26, Apple threw their hat into the ring with the iPad mini, a 7″ tablet that just a year ago Steve Jobs said would never make it in the market. It looks like he may have spoken too soon. Let’s take a look at a few of the top 7″ tablets available today.

The Kindle Fire HD is one of the hottest small tablets on the market. The newest version of the Kindle Fire at 8.9″ is inching up closer to the size of the larger tablets. The Fire HD has a 1080p high definition screen and can be purchased with or without 4G cellular data connection. The tablet is very light, weighing in at only 20 oz. and very fast, sporting a Dual core 1.5 GHz processor. Amazon claims the device has a 9 hour battery life, which is great for watching and listening to the over 20 million songs, movies, and TV shows Amazon has to offer. That doesn’t include all the Kindle books and magazines, because of course you can read all of them on this tablet as well. The Kindle Fire also has popular apps and games like Angry Birds, Pandora, and Facebook. The Kindle Fire HD is an entertainment powerhouse starting at $299.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 is one of a vast cornucopia of tablets running Google’s Android operating system. The new Galaxy Tab 2 runs Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, and has a Samsung add-on called TouchWiz, which allows you to customize the tablet’s interface by adding live panels to the home screen, feeding live content such as email, and social media updates. The tablet has access to over 500,000 apps through the Android market as well as thousands of movies, music, and TV shows. The Galaxy Tab only supports Wi-Fi, so if you want to connect to the Internet you will have to find a hotspot. The Galaxy Tab is lighter than the Kindle Fire HD, weighing only 12 oz. and smaller, sporting a 7″ 1080p high definition screen. Coming in at $199.99 direct from Samsung, this tablet is an excellent full-featured tablet though it does have its limitations.

Last on the list is the new Apple iPad mini. This tablet is an iPad…only smaller. Apple boasts that it has over 275,000 apps targeted to the iPad and they all run on the mini, just like they do on a full-sized iPad, and that does not include the other iOS apps for the iPhone that are compatible as well. The secret is in how they set up the screen resolution, 1024 by 768 – the same as the iPad 2, but with just a few more pixels packed in there to make the display even clearer. The lightest of the group – the iPad mini is just 10 oz. The iPad mini has plenty of power packed into its smaller frame. The tablet has a dual-core Apple A5 processor just like the iPad 2. The cameras – both front and back – match the specs of the most recent refresh of the new iPad, allowing you to take 5mp photos and 1080p high definition video. The iPad mini, like other iPads, comes in black or white, with or without 4G cellular, and with varying amounts of storage (16GB, 32GB, or 64GB). This tablet, like Apple states, is “Every inch an iPad.” Depending on how you size it, the price ranges from $329-$659.

The tablet market has reached a plateau where each device hardware-wise is on equal footing. When deciding which tablet you want, you will need to ask yourself which one has the software features you want and of course what apps does it run, because it is truly the apps that make tablets useful and entertaining.

Apple Event Announced

Apple today at 12:00 pm est sent out invitations to media organizations for an event with the tag “We have a little more to show you.” Expectations are that the October 23rd event will be for the unveiling of the rumored iPad Mini.
Speculation on the new device’s hardware are still flying. Most outlets are reporting that the Mini will have WiFi and 3G options. Storage will range from 8-32gb. It is expected that the screen will not be a retina display and cameras will be similar to those on the iPad now. Also expected is the new 7″ tablet will have Apple’s new Lightening connector.
As with any Apple rumors nothing is set in stone until the release date but after the spot on run of rumors before the iPhone 5 release I would expect these to be a safe bet. I guess we will find out next week.