Spring 2015 Newsletter ...
Microsoft vs. Apple, threats, the Cloud, and the future
Disclaimer... the opinions expressed in the following are purely my own, although likely shared by many others.
Looking at my newsletters, even from three years ago, my topics and the issues we face have only gradually evolved. Security and being able to get work done is still number one. The future is becoming somewhat more clear. Most of you have heard about "the Cloud". This is where data AND often programs are run off-site and the local computer is simply a connection device. Looking at the security problems, keeping software updated, not just with security issues, but also improvements, added features, and bug fixes, the Cloud simplifies things immensely, both for the user and also the software provider. Let's look at what is happening now and what will soon be offered.
Cloud computing... you can do your taxes online, radio stations run their business operations online. Office 365 runs on the web or on most devices. Windows 10 (don't ask me what happened to Windows 9) along with Office 2016 are anticipated for release this fall. Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for consumer users running Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows Phone 8.1, as well as those running the Pro editions of Windows 7 and Windows 8. This will be one of the final keys in Microsoft transitioning to cloud based services. Instead of buying a license for the software, you buy a subscription. The software is updated automatically.
What happens if you have expensive specialized software or custom software? How are the updates handled? Will they eventually be ported to the Cloud? Will there be a steep learning curve? Windows 10 will support HoloLens- a virtual 3D interface and the Cortana voice-activated personal assistant. If your business requires mainly data entry and manipulation, how will the changes affect your workers' productivity? There are many questions with few answers. Microsoft support for Windows Server 2003 ends this summer. The old adage "If it isn't broken, don't fix it." becomes questionable, because eventually the hardware DOES break and newer hardware may not support older operating systems, creating a string of forced and unplanned upgrades. The alternative is not much better, with the user being a guinea pig on upgraded software and living with a continuous learning curve. I don't have answers to these questions, other than if you use very standardized business software and can afford the cloud version (likely subscription), you'll probably be ahead of the game.
Have you noticed the elephant in the room yet? What happens when Internet connectivity fails? We all notice if the Internet quits for a few minutes. What happens if we have a ice storm and Internet restoration may take days or even weeks? What happens if there is a disaster at your business cloud provider? Do they have the ability to rapidly restore service from an alternate location? Some of you know that I have become active in politics. When major business systems move to the cloud, will companies find rural areas with questionable Internet connectivity attractive? How much redundancy and reliability can we afford?
While discussing business, we should touch on the Apple vs. Microsoft issue. Again, this is a mixture of software (what will run on Apple's operating system?) and also security ( Can I get my work done with the least security issues or disruption?). Cloud computing should allow many more applications to run on Apple computers, since the computer in many cases is simply a portal. Apple users in general have had excellent experiences with reliability and security. The reasons are not entirely clear, other than Apple has very solid quality control over both hardware and software compared to a similar Windows computer. My friend Ivan shared this link... Vulnerabilities by Operating System and Application . The operating system can be an issue, but the applications are the real problem. This is where cloud computing may help.
I hope you find this information useful in your decision making. Small and medium businesses will face some serious IT challenges over the next 2-3 years as the industry adapts to the changes Microsoft has made.
One continuing reminder on anti-malware products... I recommend frequent scans with Hitman Pro. Hitman Pro has a 30 day free trial and the annual license is a good value if you have frequent malware infections. I also recommend Malwarebytes available free at http://www.malwarebytes.org Be sure you are downloading malwarebytes and not one of the paid sponsor products. NEVER use more than one virus protection product at a time. (Malwarebytes scanner is a removal tool, use it in addition to your current product. They also offer a protection product too.) Another very useful site is Sophos.com. You can get a free phone antivirus there (Android only)- antivirus products are highly recommended for Android and Windows phones in particular. The iPhone OS creates problems for antivirus products, so results are mixed. Sophos also has a great, although technical, email newsletter.
That's it for this newsletter... enjoy the rest of spring !!
Until next time... Happy Computing !
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