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Category Archives: Microsoft

Schedule meetings with Microsoft FindTime

The art of organizing a meeting is much like chess. Each player has different possible moves, or availabilities; and it’s up to you to strategize which pieces to move where, or which events to schedule (or reschedule) when. The objective is to land on a square wherein all participants can attend, but achieving this goal often demands a tiring and time-consuming process. Fortunately, with the help of Microsoft FindTime, you can arrange meetings efficiently and easily.

Before any meetings take place, you’ll need to download Microsoft FindTime first. Fear not, because this Microsoft Outlook add-in is easily downloadable and is 100 percent free. FindTime was developed to help you and your guests do just that — find time! Coordinating all attendees’ schedules, FindTime will iron out a time that works for everyone.

Just the thought of having to organize a meeting across your organization can stir up anxiety and elicit a huge sigh… Sigh! Why? On top of handling your own hectic schedule, you’re expected to juggle your attendees’ schedules as well. This would be the moment when telephone calls start to flood in and emails start to go back and forth, rarely heading toward a unified decision.

Bid adieu to all of that with Microsoft FindTime. Simply compose a new email or reply to an existing one and click the New Messaging Poll at the upper right hand corner. From there, choose the attendees, propose a couple tentative meeting times, and let the voting begin! Once a consensus is reached, a confirmation email is automatically sent to everyone attending.

What makes it even easier is that attendees can take a look at the visual summary that tallies all the votes, and who voted for what times. This lets you see what times the majority of people have chosen, giving you a chance to rework your schedule in advance if and when necessary.

Another plus is that to receive a Microsoft FindTime invitation, your friends and family don’t need an email address or even an Internet connection! Participants aren’t required to have Office 365 either; only the organizers need to access Office 365. This means that you can reach out to your friends, loved ones, and colleagues to organize your meetings, set up playdates, and even plan surprise birthday parties — the possibilities are endless.

For more info about Microsoft FindTime, feel free to send us an email or give us a call! Our experts will gladly answer your questions. We believe that time is money, and money is the last thing you’d want to jeopardize. Allow us to help safeguard your assets by ensuring that all the time you spend on the clock doesn’t go to waste. Every minute counts.

7 things every Windows 10 user should know

Windows 10 stands tall as Microsoft’s best operating system release to date, hands down. But having undergone serious revamping, the OS is ready to rock and scroll. Boasting a myriad of new features, the updated Windows 10 is both efficient and effortless — fully capable of redefining your computing experience for good. Become a Windows 10 power user in no time with these seven tips:

Master virtual desktops

Virtual desktops allow for better utilization of screen space. You can span your applications and windows across multiple “virtual” desktops. Create one by clicking on the “Task View” icon (located at the right of the Cortana bar) on the taskbar, then click “+ New Desktop” in the lower right corner and add as many desktops as you wish. To move an application to a new desktop, merely drag it into the virtual desktop on the bottom.

Next-level screenshotting

The original screenshotting methods on Windows include Windows + Prt Scn, which captures the screen and saves it into the Screenshots folder; and Alt + Prt Scn, which captures the screen and copies it to your clipboard.

Introducing the new built-in Snipping Tool. On top of capturing a full screen screenshot, other capturing options range from a free-form rectangle to a specific aspect ratio or even an entire window as well. You can also set the capture to delay a screenshot by a set interval — this comes in handy when you want to screenshot a YouTube video minus the playback controls.

Shake and minimize

For users who aren’t aware of this trick, you can grab a window by its bar and literally shake your mouse. This causes all the other windows to automatically minimize.

Professional Windows snapping

Snapping windows to certain parts of the screen is ideal for multitasking. You can now organize and monitor different applications more seamlessly. Make the most of your screen space with the following tips:

Drag a window to the right or left to split it in half.
Drag a window to a corner to reduce it to a fourth of its size.
Drag a window to the top to maximize its size.

Record your screen with the Xbox app

After launching the Xbox app, go to the app you wish to record and press Windows + G. You’ll be prompted with a window that asks: “Do you want to open the Game bar?” Click on the “Yes, this is a game” box and let the recording begin!

Talk to Cortana like a person

Aside from typing your requests, you can also use natural language to ask Cortana to locate your vacation photos, or provide directions to your friend’s house. No date needed, just specific words and she’s all set. Cortana is also synced with your calendar, so if you’re ever unsure when your meetings are, Cortana will gladly double-check.

Automatic Battery Saver mode

When activating battery saver in Windows 10, you can limit your portable devices’ background activity and push notifications to prolong battery life. Battery saver also kicks in automatically once your battery life is lower than 20%. To customize your own power threshold as well as which applications you allow to run in the background, go to Settings > System > Battery saver — voilà!

Make the most of Windows 10 with these tips and upgrade your user status from regular to power. Regardless of what you’re using it for — arranging your meetings or planning your vacation — make each computing experience a memorable one. Want to hear more of the latest Windows 10 news and updates? Contact us today.

Friday Funny 16.09.16

The dreaded blue screen of death…

#bsod #microsoft #bluescreen #fridayfunny

Windows gets desktop Android notifications

Smartphones aren’t even ten years old, and they’re already one of the most essential pieces of our daily routines.In many ways they’ve actually surpassed desktop computers in their ability to keep us connected 24 hours a day. But they’re still a separate device, and that means awkward transitions when you get notifications while working on your PC. Those annoying interruptions were the impetus for Microsoft to introduce a new method for syncing Android notifications to your Windows 10 machine. Sound interesting? Here is how to make it happen.

The first thing you need to do is to wirelessly pair your Android phone with your Microsoft desktop. From the Google Play store, download and install the Cortana app and sign into the Microsoft account you use on your computer. Once you’ve signed in, select the Menu button in the upper-left-hand corner and select Settings. After that, select the option for ‘sync notifications’ and toggle which you would like to see on your desktop.

Notifications are broken down into four categories: calls, texts, battery alerts, and third-party apps. Although an option to answer the phone from your computer hasn’t been added yet, you can read and respond to text messages. When deciding on third-party app settings, remember the goal is to manage your interactions, not create more. Make sure to disable any notifications that will create annoying redundancies like doubled-up Facebook alerts between your Android pairing and previously-enabled desktop notifications.

And just like that, you’re all set. As long as you have Cortana enabled on your desktop, all your Android alerts will automatically display in your Windows 10 Action Center. There is no need to interact with the app on your mobile device, and we recommend removing the shortcuts from the clutter of your homescreen. Gone are the days of needlessly checking your phone every time it vibrates, just to find out it’s another telemarketer or unimportant Instagram notification.

As technology reaches the hands of more and more people, and hardware and software options increase exponentially, there are few problems that can’t be fixed with a little ingenuity. Our staff has that ingenuity, and they’re waiting to impart it on you and your business. Call us from your phone or text us from your desktop. Regardless of how you reach us, don’t wait for more problems to sneak up on you.

Microsoft issues security updates to address vulnerabilities

Microsoft has released its August security bulletin summary detailing nine updates for widely used products such as Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer. If you use any Microsoft products, you are advised to review the summary and apply any updates as required.

Updates close vulnerabilities in computer systems that remote attackers can otherwise use to gain access to systems or information (such as online banking details). A vulnerability is a weakness that can leave a computer and its systems open to attack. Attacks can be carried out a number of ways, including through malicious software (malware) such as viruses and spyware that can monitor a users’ activity on a computer and stop systems operating properly.

 

Programs to update include:

Make plans with Office 365’s Bookings

The latest addition to the Office 365 family is Bookings. This online service helps schedule appointments with businesses using software. Good ‘ol pen and paper definitely still work, but given the world’s technological advances, digital appointment management makes sense.

🤝 Besides never having to pick up the phone to schedule your events ever again, here are four other reasons why you should check out Bookings:

Visibility

Bid adieu to the days of scribbling on post-its and frantically going through your schedule to find out where you’re heading for lunch. Microsoft Bookings provides you with a unique webpage that is compatible on both desktops and mobile devices. Here, customers can select times and dates based on current availability — simply enter contact information and then book it! The system fully automates the process of managing your appointments.

No more rain checks

Microsoft believes that “Businesses can avoid last-minute cancellations by controlling how much advanced notice is required to make a cancellation.” That’s why immediately after making the appointment, a confirmation email is sent to the customer along with a reminder email before the appointment time. The web page also offers a rescheduling service;simply click on the link on the confirmation email and pick a time that you’re more comfortable with.

Synchronization

Once completed, the booking is then synced to a centralized calendar where businesses are given the option to reschedule, cancel or re-assign the appointment to other staff members as they see fit. If you do decide to re-assign it to staff members, Bookings offers a nifty feature known as “split view.” This shows which staff members are booked at which times, and you can compare everyone’s schedules side-by-side. The appointments are synced not only to your calendar, but to the staff members’ calendars as well. Moreover, this versatile system accommodates Office 365, Outlook.com, and even Google Calendar, so users can keep whatever calendaring service they prefer

Double duty

Appointment-setting might be the primary goal of Office 365’s Bookings, but the system can also be utilized to build a company’s customer list. Once customers input their information into the system, it automatically creates contact entries for those customers. The contact card contains personal information such as name, address, phone number, and email addresses. As companies grow, they can add more staff members as well as create additional booking pages for free. Furthermore, staff members aren’t required to have Office 365 subscriptions to be a part of the service.

Efficient tech resources aren’t enough to maintain a successful business anymore; in order to really stand out from competitors, comprehensive appointment management is required. Feel free to give us a call if you need any questions answered or issues addressed We’re more than happy to help.

The 5 most popular virtualization platforms

Just understanding what office virtualization is can be difficult enough; picking from the long list of software providers that help you achieve it can feel impossible. Since virtualization is a relatively new practice for small and medium-sized businesses, there isn’t even a standardized way to go about virtualizing your company. So why not start with this simple list of the 5 most popular virtualization options and what their strengths are.

VMware

Any conversation about virtualization for small and medium-sized businesses usually starts around VMware. Although it wasn’t necessarily the first, VMware was the company that really put office virtualization on everyone’s action item list. The company offers a number of different solutions for different sized businesses with a wide variety of needs. Its ease of use and robust security features have secured its reputation as one of the best options for virtualization at SMBs.

Citrix

An average user may not recognize the company name, but has a good shot at previous knowledge of their popular remote access tools, GoToMyPC and GoToMeeting. Citrix has specifically geared their virtualization software, XenApp, XenDesktop, and VDI-in-a-box toward SMBs and even claims that non-IT staff can easily manage and administer the services. They even provide a free trial to prove it.

Microsoft

Although it may be a little more difficult to manage without an in-house or outsourced IT staff, Microsoft’s Hyper-V option is hard to ignore considering its integration with the popular cloud platform Azure. Whether you’re a Microsoft loyalist or you just want to minimize the number of vendors in your network, Hyper-V offers everything you need from a virtualization service.

Oracle

This company just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Specializing in marketing software, they also offer database management, cloud storage and customer relationship management software. If you’re using any of their services already, there could be benefits to enlisting their virtualization services as well. Oracle does everything, server, desktop and app virtualization, and they believe that consolidation of all of these into one solution is what sets them apart.

Amazon

And since we’re on the topic of household names, let’s talk about Amazon’s EC2 platform, which hosts scalable virtual private servers. The ability to scale and configure capacity is definitely EC2’s biggest draw for SMBs, who are preparing for the possibility of rapid growth. Although almost any virtualization service is rooted in scalability, Amazon is leading the pack in how quickly and finely you can adjust your solution to your individual needs.

Virtualization is a really hard topic for most SMBs to tackle. This list only covers the most popular vendors, and there are plenty more out there. Choosing one based on its application possibilities and management requirements is not a subject for the lighthearted. Get in touch with us today so we can break down all of the technobabble into easy-to-understand advice and expertise.

What to buy: iPad Pro or Surface Pro 4?

Considering a iPad Pro or Surface Pro 4?

If you’ve been thinking about purchasing a new tablet, you will have two powerful options in the next few months. On October 26, Microsoft will release their Surface Pro 4, and Apple is rumored to be launching their iPad Pro in November. So how do these two options match up? And what’s right for you? Let’s break down the features of these two new tablets and compare them side by side.

Measurements and weight
When it comes to physical measurements, there is little difference between the iPad Pro and Surface Pro 4. The Surface weighs in at anywhere from 1.69 lbs to 1.73 lbs depending on which version you get, while the iPad Pro weighs slightly less, coming in at 1.57 to 1.59 lbs.

The iPad Pro is also slightly thinner, at 0.27 inches compared to the Surface’s 0.33 inches. So at first glance, you may think that iPad has a slight edge in the measurements department, but the Surface makes up for its slightly bulkier size with a wide array of ports that include a microSD card reader, 3.5mm headset jack, mini DisplayPort, Type Cover port, and a USB 3.0 port. As for the iPad Pro, it lacks all of these and instead comes with only a Lightning port.

Display
As with the measurements (minus the ports), there is no extreme difference in display between the two tablets. The Surface Pro 4 has a 12.3 inch touchscreen with a resolution of 2,736 x 1,824 pixels, versus the iPad Pro’s 12.9 inch touchscreen of 2732 x 2048 pixels.

Keyboard
Both the Surface Pro 4 and the iPad Pro come with an attachable full-size keyboard. And the one key difference here is that Microsoft’s version comes with a trackpad, while the iPad Pro’s does not. For the iPad Pro you will instead have to use your finger as a cursor to navigate the touchscreen – which system is best will depend on your preferences.

Operating systems on the iPad Pro or Surface Pro 4
This is where the big difference between these two lies. While the iPad Pro operates on iOS 9, the Surface Pro runs Windows 10. Because of this, Surface Pro has a lot more versatility and power than iPad Pro. It has the ability to run full blown desktop applications like Photoshop or Lightroom, while iPad Pro isn’t capable of this. However, for iOS lovers, iOS 9 provides new features such as improved multi-tasking and split screen.

Price
Here’s the breakdown of the price difference between the two tablets.

iPad Pro

$799 – 32GB
$949 – 128GB
$1079 – 128GB + LTE cellular radio
Surface Pro 4

$899 – 128GB (most affordable version)
$2,699 – 1TB + Intel Core i7 + 16GB of RAM (highest-priced version)
Prices range anywhere in-between, depending on storage, RAM, and processor options
Conclusion
It really depends on what you’re looking for. The Surface Pro 4 is more of a PC that looks like a tablet, while the iPad Pro is essentially a tablet. The operating system is the key difference that separates the two. If you want a tablet that runs like a full-blown computer, go with the Surface Pro 4. However, if you’re an Apple fan, the iPad Pro now provides you a larger screen than its predecessors, as well as more versatility and the option of a keyboard.

Still unsure if a iPad Pro or Surface Pro 4 is right for you? Need help with your current iPad? Call us today.

Outlook gets new features

Microsoft’s Outlook has proved to be a robust email and calendar experience on the web, allowing users to stay connected safely, securely and easily. The tech giant is now pushing things even further with a bunch of updates to Outlook in Office 365 that aim to help users become more efficient and better manage their calendar. With that in mind, let’s have a look at all the new features in Office 365’s Outlook.

Cleaner UI

Outlook in Office 365 now features a simplified, cleaner user interface (UI) that aims to help you work more efficiently. A new Action bar is available across Mail, Calendar, People and Task experiences, for utmost convenience and ease of use. The Action toolbar provides quick access to commands like clearing your inbox, replying to an email or adding an event to your calendar.

The email subject line is larger and more prominent, and messages in the reading pane are now indented for easier reading. More buttons in Calendar allow for simpler navigation and quicker creation of new meetings.

Enhanced inbox control

New tools have been added to help you sort through your email and identify the most important items to tackle first.

  • Pin – you can now pin any message in your inbox to have it highlighted in yellow and kept at the top of your inbox. This keeps important messages handy and prevents them from getting lost in your inbox.
  • Sweep – provides a simple set of actions to manage emails from specific senders, great for managing recurring messages like newsletters and special promotions. You can choose to keep messages from a specific sender for a specified number of days, only keep the most recent message, or delete all messages from the sender.
  • Archive – quickly move messages out of the inbox to a folder of choice with one-click archiving.
  • Undo – undo unintended actions with a single click.
  • Improved single-line view – a preview of the message contents in line with the subject, allowing you to perform common actions in bulk and more quickly.
  • Immersive reading pane – when in single-line view, clicking a message now displays the message in the same window.

Visually engaging emails

Outlook in Office 365 now provides the ability to easily resize images, add custom borders, apply shadow effects, rotate images, and more. Emojis have also been added, so you can express yourself better than ever before. You can also find the people you want to reach more easily; when you place your cursor on the recipient line, Outlook shows a list of the people and distribution groups you most commonly email. The list of recipients is automatically refined as you type, and adapts as the people you email change over time.

Calendar improvements

Calendar now features a five-day weather forecast. Icons next to each day give you a quick look at the forecast, and clicking on one will show a more detailed view. Calendar now supports charms – icons you can choose from to apply as visual cues that help you quickly identify different types of events. For instance, you can add an airplane charm to an upcoming flight, a music note for a piano class, and so on.

You can also create email reminders for any Calendar event and specify the recipient list, include a quick message, and set the day and time you want the email reminder to be sent. Birthday and holiday calendars are also available, and can be either overlaid across your work calendar or viewed separately.

Better mobile browser experience

A number of UI and navigational improvements has been made to enhance the mobile browsing experience, including updates to more closely resemble the UI of Outlook apps on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. Navigation has been improved in order to simplify switching between Mail, Calendar and People, and comes along with more prominent search commands. A better UI allows for the simpler creation of new events and ease of using the scheduling assistant in Calendar, and the Time strip has been updated to show the full week within the calendar. You can now switch between emails without returning to the message list, too.

Looking to learn more about Office 365, its applications and how they can benefit your business? Talk to one of our Office 365 experts; contact us today.

This entry was posted in Cloud – Office 365, General Articles A and tagged Office 365, Outlook, Outlook features, outlook updates, outlook web. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

Cortana is changing Windows 10

One of the most underrated aspects of Windows 10 is Cortana. This do-it-all personal assistant is going to revolutionize the way you use your computer. Cortana operates in the same manner as Siri and other digital voice assistants, but on your laptop or PC. We’ll dig a little deeper to show you how to set up Cortana and what you can do to maximize her uses.

If you are using Windows 10, it’s likely you have come across Cortana at least once or twice. While you might fear that the effort involved in setting up the feature isn’t worth the time you will save once Cortana is up and running, you would be mistaken. Configuring her is quite simple and she is more helpful than you might realize.

Setup

For starters, you will want to have your microphone turned on if you plan on using voice commands, and all the privacy and locations settings enabled. Cortana will not work if these have not been activated. From there, she will give you a brief overview of her capabilities and ask you a few questions to get to know you better.

Once that is completed, you are going to want to spend a few minutes testing her out and seeing what she can do for you. This awkward, getting-to-know-you stage might seem like a waste of time but, once you have a good feel for Cortana, you’ll be more inclined to use her in the future.

Maximize Cortana

Now that Cortana is ready to assist you, it’s important to utilize her as a personal assistant. Here are a few areas she can really come in handy:

Find that document – Ever saved a document somewhere to later forget where it was stored? Simply ask Cortana to look for it by saying, “Hey Cortana, find (file name),” and she will bring it up for you. Let’s say you are looking for Word documents located in multiple folders on your computer; all you have to say is, “Hey Cortana, find my Word documents,” to have her pull up all your Word files.

Easily start tasks – Football season is nearly upon us and that means fantasy football season is here. Utilizing Cortana could give you the extra edge needed to win your league this year. If you want to check on Tony Romo’s status, say, “search for Tony Romo injury,” and the search results will pop up for you. Want to make a sneaky trade offer to John before your rivals? Say “email John Fantasy Football,” and a window with his e-mail address will pop-up. Of course, these features are universal and you don’t have to like or even know what fantasy football is to use them.

Answer your questions – One of the coolest features about Cortana is the fact that when you ask her a question she will not only show you the answer, but speak it as well. Want to know what the weather is like in Denver? Just say, “Hey Cortana, what’s the weather in Denver,” and she’ll give you the lowdown on it. Need to know when your next meeting is taking place? Ask Cortana and she’ll reply with the answer. This is especially nice when you’re in your office but away from the computer.

Talking to Cortana is nice, but speaking with a person about your IT is better. Contact us today for all your technology needs.

Posted in General Articles and Tagged  digital voice assistant, Hey Cortana!, Microsoft, news, QS_3, Windows, Windows 10, Windows tips.