December is coming to a close and with it 2013 — a new year is nearly upon us. Looking forward to 2014, I wanted to make everyone aware of some changes that will be happening over the next few months here at Jacobs and Company B.I.T.S. First of all, I am excited to announce that we will be rolling out a new set of managed services. Our managed service offering is designed to simplify the IT environment and to provide a more efficient means of supporting you, our customers. Many of you may be familiar with managed services provided by other IT companies where your only contact is through some automated service call system. That’s not what’s happening here. We will still provide you with the same level of personal service you have come to expect of Jacobs & Company B.I.T.S. I will be sending out more information in the coming weeks about this new service and how it can benefit you. As part of the managed service offering, we are partnering with some of the top names in antivirus, security, and monitoring to provide the next best thing to having an IT staff in your office, us keeping an eye on your computers and network every day. Also, many of you might not be aware that not only do we install, repair, and maintain IT equipment but we also provide consulting services to help you determine the best way to use technology to help your business. You can think of us as a virtual CIO, dedicated to helping you align your technology with your business and processes.
In addition to rolling out our new managed services offering, we will be changing our rates this year. We will be raising our standard hourly service rate from $110/hour to $125/hour for all service calls not covered under the managed services agreement. This rate increase will take effect January 1, 2014. I will be sending out a reminder letter to all current clients shortly after the New Year.
The coming new year also brings with it the end of Windows XP. On April 8th 2014 Microsoft will no longer support the venerable operating system which has probably been the most popular operating system Microsoft has ever released. Why is the end of support for Windows XP such a big deal? On April 8th 2014 Windows XP will officially be the biggest security threat to any network still running computers with the operating system. Any new security holes found by hackers will not be patched and so the Windows XP machines become gaping security holes with no way to close those holes. Also, to a lesser extent, Office 2003 will also become a target because it will no longer be supported. It is important to get machines upgraded or replaced as soon as possible so that they are not left exposed. I recommend Windows 8.1. Windows 7 is an option; however, Mainstream support ends January 13th, 2015. What this basically means is that the only support available from Microsoft will be security updates and paid service. No patches or hotfixes will be released to improve or fix broken functionality after that date. So I will say it again — now is the time to upgrade to Windows 8.1 to get the most longevity out of your new systems.
2013 was busy and filled with excitement. I look forward to a continued relationship with all you in this coming year. I hope to continue to provide you with excellent personalized IT service and to help you get the most out of your technology in 2014 and beyond.