Category Archives: Microsoft

Office Software – the nice thing about standards is there are so many to choose from, take Office for example?

Its a maxim of modern life, just when you think there is only one choice the world opens up to confuse you. Even brands compete with themselves.


Microsoft Office was great, simple even. in 1995 did you want the standard or the professional? The difference was which programs came with it. Professional had Access and PowerP

oint. Then  small business wanted PowerPoint but not Access so they introduced Small business edition.

Life was simple, pay you money, take your choice. There were competitors such as Lotus, Wordperfect, Open Access and many more but there was only one choice, it was Microsoft but with a choice of flavours, and the others with the exception of Ability, faded away.

What ruined that was the mobile phone, Tablet, Google and Apple. Google offered free programs, Apple did their own thing and the mobile phone needed cheap Apps to access Word & Excel. Suddenly the race was on to find something to access the Microsoft files, chuck in an opening of the format and the race was on, well who won? No body did but we all did, slightly.

Confused? well lets wind on to today, you can have your own Word and Excel like programs installed on your phone, PC, Cloud, Tablet, Mobile, Chromebook, Linux device, anything. The prices range from free to rip-off (I’ll explain that later as it’s relative).

Its not about the software, its about the document

What has happened is that the standard has become the document, not how you access it. We all want to edit, create and read word Documents or Excel spreadsheets. It doesn’t matter what we use to do this and that is back to the Smartphone, Tablet, Google, Apple influence. The reason is simple, its no longer the how, its the what.

Now we have established that you can use anything lets look at the choice. Its simple its where and cost.

Where and cost?

The “where” is simple, on your device, PC, Laptop, Tablet, SmartPhone or on the “cloud”, (horrible term, it just means someone else computer). The advantage of the cloud is that it is “cross-platform”, you can use it on anything, but if you have a program installed on everything then that is cross platform for document access anyway. So this doesnt really matter, despite what you are being constantly told, If you can create, read, edit on any device anywhere then the how becomes irrelevant. Irrelevant is a bad word actaully, it becomes confusing. Confusing because of the next item, cost, there is a mad rush for Office 365, for many reasons, all of which are usually wrong, as you will see.

Free software means that it is free to use and distribute, it also means free to alter and for more information you will need to understand the term “Open Source” which I will not go in to here, it’s a whole new set of blogs on it’s own.

There are many free programs that have trundled along in the background and they have now come to the fore. These are OpenOffice, LibreOffice, Oxygen office. These allow you to download on anything that they work on any time. Some work like the Old pre-ribbon office and some have gone thier own way. Don’t be put off by saying it works differently, so does every car heater system but you soon get the hang of that, until you change your car.

Car heaters and why everything is new to begin with

Car heaters send heat up, down and forward, the airspeed differs and some have extra cold or hot booster and some have fancy dials, but that’s all they do, they just do it differently, same thing with Office suites.

Paid for packages, You can buy a Microsoft work alike package called Ability for £30, its been around in the background for years and its the only real paid for Microsoft Office alternative.

Office 365 is probably wrong for you

That leaves us with Microsoft Office. There is a push be Microsoft to get everyone on the cloud, That way they can take more money from you over fiver years. There are lost of sales reasons to go 365 but I can trash them all:

I get 5 licences, yes you do, for 1 user on 5 devices, I get the latest version, yes you do but as Office is only updated every three years and still does the same thing how does that help? I spread the cost, its only £x monthly, OK add up all the x weekly’s where x is all the cloud software you pay for, now calculate it over five years. I bet I can lease you your own server for five years at less cost. The killer is why pay for 365, there are good Google alternatives and remember Isaid that brands compete with themselves? Well there is a free version of Office 365 called Office online, go on, Google it (Oh the irony).

We get paid more money for every Office 365 than selling software in a box, so the drive for any reseller is not your needs but their pocket, follow the money, it leads to Office 365 and that’s where a Windows operating system is heading, more about that in another blog.

There are other alternatives and we will write a blog on them all, but talking to us is easier, we listen then advise, now how many people do that in IT?

Talk, just don’t take anyone’s word, it might be the wrong one.

Put simply, you pays your money, or not and takes your choice or not. Just talk to an IT expert such as us who wants you to have the right product, for the right reasons.

I have just sold one business £3,000 of Office Home & Business, based on a three minute discussion. I wrote this blog for them, at the end of the day if they can’t be bothered to read this and save money and gets what right then I have still done my job by showing them the clearly better alternatives, I can only try can’t I? I know he drives a Merc, maybe if he heard me he could afford a Bentley or a Roller as well.

A problem that plays on less tech savvy users – messes with data – Blackmails you for £300?
No its not cryptlocker, it’s a phone call

The aim is the same; to get money with your credit card details.

This one has various forms but it always starts with an unexpected phone call, usually from BT or Microsoft, well they don’t actually say that. 
This is typical:

“A person called and identified themselves as a representative of Microsoft and stated that I had a virus just entered my computer system. Microsoft was watching as I have a Windows OS.”  

They then ask to dive around the computer screen asking questions, eventually they ask you if you can see a particular icon, they may even take control of your machine by sending you to an official looking website.
They then show you the offending “virus” which for a small payment of £6.50 they will remove for you. Which they do. All is well and you go away happy!

If you are suspicious, they will tell you they are from BT and they can seize your line to prove it. They tell you to replace the receiver and then pick it up to dial. NO DIAL TONE! then you put it down, the phone rings and there they are again proving they are from BT, then of course you trust them.

No what has actually happened; They call saying they are working with BT, Microsoft etc, well suprise, suprise not a lie, so are most of us. I also work with Tesco and the Bank of England (we use their fuel by using money).

Taking control of your computer is easy, you don’t have to do anything apart from clicking on a website, they then find a useless file “proving” they know what they are talking about, well you do trust them don’t you?

They then take the credit card payment but you have just given them all the details they need to make many transactions that will add up to your credit limit, not just the few pounds they said.

Oh and how do they do the phone trick? get someone to phone you, tell them to stay on the line while you hang up, you’ll be back in a second, pick up the phone again and you will hear silence, just say ring me back and hang up, they, if they like you, will ring back. Hey presto! Trick complete, and you are poorer if it was a phishing scam.

Remember no one from any reputable company will do this. Ask for their number and extension and tell them you will ring them back as your computer is not on and it’s a UNIX system. You have just a. called their bluff and proved you are more tech savvy than them. If you think you have a virus then call us on 01206 256459 or 01473 231800, we’ll advise you for free.

Then then show you the

“Windows XP users six times more likely to be hacked than Windows 7 or 8. “

“Microsoft disclosed that at a Conference in Amsterdam on the 29th

“XP has been a beloved operating system for millions and millions of people around the world, but after 12 years of service it simply can’t mitigate the threats we’re seeing modern-day attackers use,” says Tim Rains, director of Microsoft Trustworthy Computing.

Criminal hackers, as you might imagine, can’t wait. That’s because most consumers are clueless about the true scope of security risks. And thousands of companies, for economic and operational reasons, appear intent on continuing to use XP machines well after Microsoft officially stops supporting XP, which was launched in October 2001.

But the intense good-guy vs. bad-guy race to find and exploit new holes in Windows 7 and Windows 8 is not going to stop. The key point is this: Microsoft will continue to issue security patches for Windows 7 and 8, but not for XP.

Security experts anticipate that cybercriminals will move to take advantage. Historically, about two thirds of malware developed for Windows 7, for instance, work well on Windows XP, says Wolfgang Kandek, chief technology officer at cloud-based security firm Qualys

Using Microsoft Small Business Server 2003? You’ve got about a fortnight to save £5,000 off the replacement.


As we have said in a previous post Microsoft are ending the Small Business Server package.

This package was ideal, it was introduced so that small businesses with 5 to 25 users could have all the facilities that larger companies enjoyed the at a fraction of the price. This included exchange, SQL, remote desktop and various other packages and most businesses need.

It would appear that the entire reason for discontinuing an incredibly popular package is purely to increase revenue.

We recently provided a quotation for the installation of small business server in to a business. The owner decided that the time was not right due to lack of funds and he would put off the purchase into the new year.

We decided to look at exactly how much this delay would cost him. The difference was staggering, the delay would cost him over £5,000 more than if you bought now. If he decided to buy the entry level Microsoft server and use a system for his e-mail which was not exchange and to forgo SQL and it would still cost an extra £700.

Of course you can buy the entry level server from Microsoft and use the cloud to supply your e-mail system but over five years it will cost you an extra £700 if you ignore the fact that you will need to rent your software and hope that your Broadband is fast enough to cope.

To put this in some kind of context Microsoft small business server comes with everything you need, five user licences and SQL is a low cost add on. Microsoft standard server needs to have exchange, SQL and virtually everything else added to make it any more than just a simple file server. The real catch is in the licenses, each user will need a License to access files, to use exchange and to use SQL. This will cost over £300 per user and nothing is included with the original purchase, if you consider that the same user on small business server would only cost you around £60 and you can see that this soon adds up to a massive revenue increase from Microsoft by emptying your pocket for the same products.

So why is this news? And what’s the rush? That’s simple, when the current stocks run out, it’s a game over. There are only a few distributors of Microsoft Products and the one we use sold 10% of their remaining stock yesterday. If this carries on then your choices become extremely expensive in about a fortnight’s time.

Funny how prices go up rapidly when business picks up or Clients are forced to upgrade.

Take in the following information:
Business is recovering
The “fun” of Tablet computing has peaked
Windows XP is soon to be end of life.
Microsoft have discontinued Small Business Server
Microsoft Server 2003 is nearing end of life and there’s still plenty of it out there

I’ve noticed IT hardware prices are rising faster than electricity bills! – Obviously cashing in on the end of XP & Small business server.

Just had some quotes back and checked on a few prices such as Dell. It would appear that now things are picking up in IT and the fun of Business Tablet computing has peaked (Have you really tried making an excel spreadsheet on one?) coupled with the fact that there are lots of creaking Server 2003 systems out there, let alone dying XP machines and you have an upswing all gives you a chance to boost prices.

We are looking at putting our prices up too as our supplies are coming in at higher prices. We, like everyone, kept our prices on the low side, usually undercutting Dell with a better machine for £5 less. When the pressure on pricing eases and your supplies go up the you have no choice. It’s just when and how much. We are looking at putting ours up before Christmas as most businesses are focused on parties (£150 per employee tax free I read on Linkedin). We think we will go up around 10% but one of the quotes I had back for a standard i5 system with poor upgrade and small power supply from a large national competitor are going up a wacking 25%, yes 25%. That’s an extra £152.