Category Archives: News

Microsoft Product Releases: Microsoft Windows Server 2016

Improved Security

The next generation of windows server is more robust with features than its predecessors

When it comes to Microsoft Product Releases, we can’t stress enough how Microsoft Windows Server 2016 is vital to a successful IT team. We can give you seven reasons why your team needs it. So, without further delay, read on:

Windows Server 2016 has multiple layers of security built-in to the operating system. This new security system helps block attacks against your data and applications that run on-premises and in the Cloud, as well as attacks against virtual machines. Several isolation and threat detection features activate as soon as Windows Server 2016 launches.

You can also activate other security features after server deployment:

  • switch on protection against malware/ransomware injection into server
  • block compromises to credentials, such as pass-the-hash attacks, using Credential Guard and Remote Credential Guard
  • pro-actively identify behavior indicating potential server breaches
  • expand security protection to include virtual machines, using Shielded Virtual Machines encrypted by Bitlocker. Bitlocker is full disc encryption that protects the hard drive from offline attacks, first introduced in Windows 2007, and now applied to virtual machines.

Credential Guard/Remote Credential Guard. Microsoft first introduced this security feature in Windows 10 Enterprise. The protection uses virtualization security techniques that wall off cryptic  information like credentials and put the cloaked information where only a set of privileged software has access. Even malware running within the operating system cannot break into the credentials. Credential Guard protects NTLM (NT Lan Manager) password hashes and Kerberos Ticket Granting Tickets as well as other credentials that applications store for their domains.

Shielded Virtual Machines. Microsoft introduced this security feature in Windows 2016. Shielded Virtual Machines protect Microsoft’s Hyper-V Generation 2 virtual machines from malicious attacks. Shielded VMs do not boot from a traditional BIOS system. Instead, they boot from something called a virtual Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI). Technology companies, 140 of them including Microsoft, developed UEFI to replace BIOS.

Shielded Virtual Machines work their security magic thanks to Secure Boot and Bitlocker encryption that resides inside the virtual disks. Bitlocker protects data whether it’s in transit or not moving. Secure Boot is a PC industry standard that checks the boot loader to make sure it only uses software trusted by the PC manufacturer.

Device Guard. This security feature make sure that only trusted software runs on your server — whether your applications run in-house or in the Cloud. It is security software and Enterprise hardware that together lock a device down to only run trusted software that you define in your code policies.

Control Flow Guard. This security feature developed to prevent vulnerabilities that result in memory corruption. One of its strengths is that it severely restricts from where code executes which means that hackers cannot take advantage of buffer overflows or other vulnerabilities to execute malicious code.

Windows Defender. This feature is an anti-malware protection for the server, not the operating system.

Microsoft Focuses on Hybrid Cloud. The new Windows Server 2016 is an example of Microsoft’s emphasis on Hybrid Cloud. The company is betting that certain Enterprise organizations will always want to transfer some of their data and work spaces to the Cloud while maintaining other parts of their data/applications on the in-house server. Microsoft designed Windows Server 2016 to facilitate organizations who want to take advantage of the Hybrid Cloud.

Have the most knowledgeable IT team. Windows Server 2016 is much more powerful than previous servers. To get the most out of Windows Server 2016, it makes sense to have highly trained IT personnel who have the skills necessary to run the server and all of its security features.

To talk more about this topic, or about anything else, please contact us. We want to help you with all your IT questions.

Microsoft Product Releases: Microsoft 365 And Azure Stack

Office 365

Office 365 options available for your convenience

Microsoft made a major announcement on, July 10, 2017. Microsoft is introduced Microsoft 365, which is an improved way for businesses like yours to purchase Windows and Office as a combined product, and not separately. Microsoft has made Windows 10 and Office 365 available to every business in a variety of ways, but the software Microsoft 365 Enterprise is a combination of Windows 10 Enterprise and Office 365 Enterprise. The software also includes Enterprise Mobility+Security.

Microsoft 365 Business is also being offered, and this software will make its debut as a preview in August. Microsoft 365 Business will include Office 365 Business Premium, and businesses will get the necessary management features and security features it needs. While the debut is set for August, the release is set to occur in the fall. For the businesses that want to purchase Microsoft Business 365, they can expect to pay $20 each month, and this cost is per user.

Businesses that want to purchase Microsoft 365 Enterprise will find it available a day before the Microsoft 365 Business makes its public debut. There is not set price on Microsoft 365 Enterprise because it will be dependent on a variety of things, including the plan that you choose.

Microsoft 365 may be familiar to the businesses that have used Secure Productive Enterprise, but Microsoft 365 focuses more on all companies. Microsoft 365 will be available in two forms: Microsoft 365 Business will be geared towards businesses that are small or medium-sized. Microsoft 365 Enterprise will be geared towards businesses that are larger.

If you want to use Microsoft 365 at its basic level, Microsoft 365 will combine everything Microsoft has to offer a business. Microsoft 365 is a response to the businesses that needed a fuller approach to productivity, and at a secure level. Businesses no longer have to look at everything separately. Managing a device, managing security features, and managing Office applications no longer have to be seen as separate problems.

Microsoft 365 is not only a more affordable alternative for your business, but it makes complete sense for your business. You want to create a workplace that can successfully combine its applications, devices, and security features. Microsoft 365 will be the tool that will give you the ability to do this.

Azure Stack

On July 10 Microsoft stated that the businesses that want to deploy their cloud computing technology to their data centers have the ability to make the order. However, although the orders can be placed, they will actually not get anything until sometime in September, maybe.

Microsoft stated that Azure Stack would be available to businesses in the mid part of 2017. Microsoft stated that the Azure Stack software would come with equipment from three companies, Lenovo, Dell, and Hewlett-Packard Enterprises. When we think about the middle of the year, we typically think of June or July, right? Well, customers can place their software orders in July, but they will not be able to run the software until months later.

Azure Stack is an essential part of Microsoft’s plan to take action against Amazon Web Services. Amazon Web Services, as you are probably already aware, is a profitable form of public cloud computing. In this setup, the software and data of its customers are deployed to data centers that Amazon operates. So, Azure Stack presents a very interesting alternative.

Microsoft has stated that businesses that want to use the cloud and still run software and data on the inside will still have this option. On the other hand, Amazon Web Services is set on making sure all the data operations are run by their services, and nothing else. We were expecting Azure Stack to be introduced last year, but Microsoft went in another direction and that date was moved to this year.

Microsoft has been very busy this year, and we do not expect them to slow down. Contact us today for additional information on Microsoft 365 and Azure Stack.

Microsoft Dynamic 365 Components Expected To Launch In Mid-2017

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Excited for the next release of Microsoft Dynamics 365!

Last year, Microsoft significantly changes their portfolio by introducing Dynamics 365. Dynamic 365 integrated the critical ERP and CRM functions of the original products into a complete package. Dynamics 365 consists of several applications, including customer services, finance, sales, etc.

If your business consists of 250 employees and more, the Enterprise edition of Dynamics 365 would be a perfect match for your business. If you have a smaller business that consists of less than 250 employees, the Business edition of Dynamics 365 would work best for your business.

There are also a variety of options when it comes to licensing your software, which will mean every business will have the ability to adjust the software to fit the specific needs of their business.

Dynamics 365 was placed on the market for purchase in November 2016, but it did not include some critical components. Microsoft plans to release additional components and developments in the mid part of this year.  We are going to take a look at some of the great developments that you will see in Dynamics 365 this year.

Using Cortana

Many people are very skeptical of using the voice functionality tool, Cortana. There is also skepticism about using Cortana with Dynamics 365. Can a voice functionality tool actually be useful in a workplace setting? What can a voice interface actually offer employees in an office that is probably already crowded or noisy?

Well, we have found that a voice interface tool can actually provide a significant amount of help to employees, especially when you need to multitask. When Cortana is integrated with Dynamics 365, you will be able to use the feature when you are traveling.

Cortana can be fully integrated into Dynamics 365 for your Sales department. Cortana already has exceptional features and components, so can you imagine how easier it will be for you to multitask, organize, and prepare when you are working on a sales project? Your sales teams will always need something that will make their jobs a little easier, and the functionalities of Cortana will certainly give them the peace of mind they need when they are working.

Chat Features

Three years ago, Microsoft obtained a portal platform, Parature. Microsoft obtained this platform with the hopes of improving the functionality of Dynamic CRM, as well as to eventually add web chat features. Unfortunately, Parature was placed to the side after Microsoft acquired ADX Studio. Since Parature was not integrated into Dynamics 365, this means Dynamics 365 is still operating without a web chat solution.

Chat features are certainly important when it comes to multitasking, improving teamwork, and improving the overall operations of a department. Since there have not been any functionalities to perform a web chat, it definitely seems likely that Dynamics 365 will add a web chat solution soon.

Marketing Plus Adobe Equals A Great Partnership

Adobe Marketing has turned into the perfect solution for Dynamics 365 Marketing. What does this mean for your organization? It means that you can expect to see Dynamics 365 use Adobe Marketing Cloud as a marketing solution. If your business has access to Dynamics 365 for Sales, you will be able to fully integrate Adobe Marketing Cloud. The Adobe Marketing Cloud includes a variety of functionalities, including the ability to manage web content and email marketing.

You can expect to see a variety of added features in Dynamics 365. 2016 was certainly a great year for 2016, and no one could have made any predictions about what Dynamics 365 would bring to business. It certainly seems that Dynamics 365 is putting a bigger focus on mobility. We expect to see Microsoft deliver more components and applications that will allow businesses like yours to focus on improving their entire business operations.

For additional information on Dynamics 365 and other Microsoft product releases, contact us today.

Microsoft Announces the New Surface Pro

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Microsoft Product Releases

Microsoft combines stunning creativity with powerful productivity in the new Surface Pro, announced on May 23rd, 2017. The Surface Pro’s top-down redesign includes an extremely long 13.5 hour battery life; lightning-fast Intel Core 7th generation processor; support for the new Surface Pen with its amazing inking capabilities; and a great deal more. Yet despite the long list of improvements, the new Surface Pro weighs only 1.69 pounds and costs only $799 USD.

Faster performance

The new Surface Pro, which runs on an Intel Core 7th generation processor, delivers speeds that are 2.5 times faster than the Surface Pro 3. Despite its remarkable performance, the Surface Pro’s fanless design keeps it nice and quiet.

Longer battery life

The new Surface Pro’s battery has an extremely long life of 13.5 hours, lasting 50% longer than its predecessor.

Streamlined design

With softer edges, an ultra-thin 8.5mm profile, and a weight of only 1.69 pounds, the new Surface Pro is elegant and streamlined. Furthermore, users can not only customize the color of their new Surface Pro, but also the Surface Arc mouse and the new Surface Pen. There are three rich colors available: cobalt blue, burgundy and platinum.

Improved keyboard and display

The new Surface Pro’s type cover features 1.3mm of key travel for quicker, more accurate typing than its predecessors. A soft, elegant, yet strong, covering envelops the keyboard for maximum comfort and aesthetic appeal. Thanks to a new hinge with a 165-degree range, users can now take advantage of Studio Mode, which provides the ideal position for drawing or writing with the Surface Pen. The new Surface Pro also has a high-resolution 12.3 inch PixelSense Display (supporting the new Surface Pen) and a full-glass trackpad that includes multi-touch, five-finger precision.

The new Surface Pen

Thanks to its PixelSense Accelerator, the new Surface Pen is not only faster than its predecessors, but features twice the accuracy and responsiveness. With 4,096 levels of sensitivity to pressure, both writing and drawing are vastly improved with the new Surface Pen. The device also features support for tilt functionality, which detects the angle that the user holds the pen against the screen’s surface. The result is enhanced shading with an improved, natural quality.

Windows 10, Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Whiteboard will unlock still more possibilities for inking with the new Surface Pen in 2017.

Surface Dial capabilities

You can now access many of the creative experiences from Surface Studio by using Surface Dial with the new Surface Pro. Simply place Surface Dial on the screen to access app-specific shortcuts and tools.

A new path to productivity

Microsoft is bringing the creative power of the new Surface Pro and the Surface Pen into the domain of productivity. In June, 2017, Microsoft 365 subscribers will begin to see new inking functionality, including a gallery of drawing devices that follow you throughout your activities in Word, Powerpoint and Excel. Office users will soon find themselves inking comments in their documents with the Surface Pro and Surface Pen. Later in 2017, Microsoft will release Whiteboard, unlocking still more features for ink-enabled Windows 10 devices. Subscribers of Office 365 will have exclusive access to many features.

Launch date

Microsoft plans to release the new Surface Pro on June 15th, 2017 in twenty-four markets. Pre-ordering is already available in select markets and stores. Microsoft plans to release the new Surface Pen in the coming weeks.

With the new Surface Pro, Microsoft offers both a creative studio and a powerful laptop in a single, 1.69 pound package. The top-down resign includes a faster processor; an extraordinary 13.5 hour battery life; an ultra-thin 8.55mm profile; a redesigned keyboard for faster typing; and support for the new Surface Pen’s industry-leading inking capabilities. As Microsoft rolls out Whiteboard later this year, owners of the new Surface Pro will find themselves unlocking even more remarkable features to enhance both their creativity and productivity in 2017.

Contact us to learn more about Microsoft’s new Surface Pro.