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August 29 2013

The best Windows 8 Start menu programs

 

There are plenty of third-party Windows 8 Start Menu programs. Here are two of the best–with very different approaches.

I haven’t tested either of these with Windows 8.1, which isn’t available in its final form as I write this. I figure that if these programs fail to work with the update, the problem will be fixed quickly.

Return of Windows 7

If you really miss the Windows 7 Start menu, StartIsBack should be your first choice. Aside from the shamrock icon in place of the traditional Start button, it looks almost identical to Microsoft’s last official Start menu. And if you don’t like the Shamrock, you can change it.

StartisBack behaves like the Windows 7 Start menu, too. Recent and pinned programs take their same place on the left panel, with recent file lists for each application. The Search field behaves as you’d expect.

And yes, you can launch Modern Interface programs from this Start menu. You’ll find them in All Programs’ App submenu.

StartIsBack offers extensive configuration options. Many of them–such as the choice to display Control Panel as a link, a menu, or not at all–will be familiar to Windows 7 veterans. But you can also control whether to boot Windows 8 to the Start screen or the desktop, and which key brings up which environment.

After a 30-day free trial, you can buy StartIsBack for a very reasonable $3.

A Start menu for Windows 8

Start Menu Reviver isn’t really a Windows 7 Start menu replacement. It’s more like what Microsoft might have created if they had decided to make a new Start menu for Windows 8.

Like the Metro Start screen, it displays big, rectangular tiles. In other words, it’s touch friendly.

By default, the two big tiles on the top are My Computer and Internet Explorer. You can change them. Another, even bigger tile brings you to the Start screen. Below that are 16 tiles which you can set to any installed program–desktop or Modern.

This is the Start menu I would use on a tablet. It does a better job of integrating the two environments than Microsoft ever even tried.

But that’s not saying much.

July 23 2012

Three Reasons You Should Switch to Office 365

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Office 2013 will soon be here, along with a new and improved version of the cloud-based Office 365. If you’re looking to upgrade, you have to decide whether the traditional desktop version of Office is the way to go, or if Office 365 is a better fit for your needs.

Office 2013 is impressive, but Office 365 is a better value in most cases.

1. Cost
Microsoft hasn’t yet shared what the price tag will be for the new Office 2013. But, unless it follows the same bold path laid out in offering Windows 8 for a mere $40, history suggests the new productivity suite will start somewhere in the $150 neighborhood.

Office 365 plans start at $4 per month. Small businesses can get access to Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync in addition to the core Office productivity applications for only $6 per month. Larger businesses that want to take advantage of Active Directory integration can do so for $8 per user per month.

Breaking those down, it takes more than three years to reach $150 based on the $4 per month plan, and more than 18 months under the $8 per month plan. The 18 months is less time than a business typically gets out of an investment in the desktop Office software, but it also comes with more than the software itself.

Of course, those are the current subscription prices and plans for Office 365, so those figures are subject to change as well.

2. Updates and Maintenance
What else do you get with your Office 365 subscription? An IT department. Sure, you can set up your own Exchange Server, SharePoint Server, and Lync infrastructure. You can manage and maintain the desktop Microsoft Office software, and install the patches and updates every month yourself. How much will that cost?

Consider that implementing the same capabilities in-house requires servers, and network infrastructure, and IT personnel to install, manage, update, and maintain it all. Plus, you still have to buy and maintain the Office software itself.

With Office 365, Microsoft takes care of all the dirty work so you don’t have to. Updates, patches, and upgrades just happen in the background without you needing to worry about it. When the server crashes, its Microsoft’s problem. When a hard drive needs to be replaced, Microsoft will handle it. You get the benefits of using Office without any of the headaches of updating and maintaining it all.

3. Accessibility
Office 365 lives in the cloud. That means you have access to Word, Excel, Outlook, and other Microsoft Office tools from anywhere you can get a Web connection, and from virtually any device–Windows or Mac desktops and laptops, Android devices, iPhones, iPads, and other smartphones and tablets.

Office Web Apps provide basic features and functions for free.This isn’t quite the selling point it once was for a couple reasons. First, even with the desktop Office 2013 suite Microsoft is pushing users to save files to the cloud-based SkyDrive, or to a SharePoint server by default. So, there’s no reason the data can’t be accessible regardless of whether you choose Office 2013 or Office 365.

The second reason it may not be all that compelling is that Office Web Apps are already available for free from the SkyDrive site. So, even without Office 365 users can create, view, and edit Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote files from the Web.

For businesses, though, SharePoint, Active Directory, and other elements of Office 365 that go beyond simply creating and editing Office documents still make Office 365 a better value.

Your mileage will vary of course. There are a number of factors involved in calculating the cost of purchasing, installing, configuring, updating, and maintaining Microsoft Office and the accompanying back-end services versus the ongoing subscription costs associated with Office 365. Office 365 is a solid service providing tremendous bang for the buck, though, so it won’t be easy to beat the value it brings to the table.

July 18 2012

Can’t wait for Office 2013? Try it now for free!

Office 2013 Customer Preview Installation Steps

The Customer Preview of Office 2013 can be installed in just a few minutes and co-exists side-by-side with an existing version of Office, so there’s no need to uninstall your existing Office. You will need either Windows 7 or Windows 8 as your installed operating system to get started. The final version of Office 2013 will be able to be deployed via the Office 365 cloud or traditional enterprise software deployment methods, but the Customer Preview steps below are designed to install from the cloud to make it quick and easy to get started with testing.

NOTE: Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2013 Preview is also available for download using a traditional MSI-based installation package. Please note the traditional installation does not support fast cloud-based streaming of the installation or side-by-side operation with older versions of Office, and you will need to uninstall existing Office programs on your PC if you use the MSI-based installation approach. You can download the .MSI installation bits here if you prefer.

Before getting started, review the Office 2013 System Requirements, located here to make sure your system is capable of running Office 2013. The biggest change in terms of system requirements is the Operating System requirements – Windows 7 or Windows 8 is required on client machines to run Office 2013.

1.To start the Office 2013 Customer Preview installation, visit http://office.com/preview
2.If you are a home user, click on the “Sign Up” button. Business users can click on the “Office 365 Enterprise” link to test the most robust business version of the new Office.
3.Complete a new user profile and create a new Microsoft account. Note – If you are currently an Office 365 subscription user, you’ll need to sign up for a new Microsoft account that is different from your Office 365 login credentials to test the Customer Preview.
4.Once you’ve signed up for a new Microsoft account, login to http://portal.microsoftonline.com with your new ID.
5.From the Office 365 Admin home page, click the “Download Software” admin shortcut on the right side of the page
6.Click the “install” button. This will launch the new “Click-to-Run” installer. (What’s Click-to-Run? Here’s a technical overview of this new technology)
7.The new Office installer will launch via Click-to-Run technology.
8.Review the Microsoft Office licensing agreement and click the “Accept” button
9.Within a couple minutes, the core of Office will install and you’ll be greeted by a short introductory video explaining some of the new Office features.
10.Choose a look-and-feel to personalize the new Office client applications.

That’s it! Jump in and start using Office while the rest of Office 2013 installs in the background over the next few minutes via the Click-to-Run streaming installation.

July 16 2012

New Microsoft Office coming October 2012

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Today, Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer unveiled the customer preview of the new Microsoft Office. The next release features an intuitive design that works beautifully with touch, stylus, mouse or keyboard across new Windows devices, including tablets. The new Office is social and unlocks modern scenarios in reading, note-taking, meetings and communications and will be delivered to subscribers through a cloud service that is always up to date. Below are some new features you will find in various Microsoft Office programs:

SharePoint
The newest SharePoint is designed to help everyone in your organization share content and ideas, organize teams and projects, and discover connections to get work done.

  • Share documents easily from SharePoint or any Office application, and track the people you’ve shared them with.
  • Follow sites, documents, and people with updates delivered to your activity feed.
  • Share ideas and tap into the knowledge of specialists from across your organization.
  • Search for documents, people, discussions, and #tags from anywhere in SharePoint.
  • Discover and trial third party apps in the marketplace to customize your SharePoint sites.

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Exchange
The newest Exchange enables you to increase user productivity and keep your organization safe, while maintaining the control you need.

  • Move to the cloud on your terms with flexible migration options.
  • Help your users do more on any device, manage increasing volumes of email, and work together more effectively as teams.
  • Protect business communications and sensitive information as you meet internal and regulatory compliance requirements.

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Lync
The newest Lync is an enterprise-ready, unified communications platform that connects people everywhere on Windows 8 and other devices.

  • Use a single, unified client for real-time communications, including voice and video calls, Lync meetings, presence, instant messaging, and persistent chat.
  • Get HD video conferencing across a range of devices. The Lync video gallery allows Lync meeting attendees to simultaneously view up to 5 different participants, identify the active speaker, and associate names with faces.

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Office Web Apps Server
With Office Web Apps Server, your users get browser-based productivity from nearly any device on your terms and within your own private network.

  • Keep your users productive and working together, no matter where they are or what device or software they have, using browser-based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.
  • Manage updates to Web Apps Server independent of other products with standalone server deployment and configuration.
  • Get simple, seamless integration with your existing servers including Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, line-of-business applications and file shares.

Project
The new Project offers flexible service or on-premises solutions for project portfolio management (PPM) and everyday work. Try it in these three versions:

  • Project Online Preview is our online solution that gives you flexible options for achieving strategic priorities while helping your team deliver efficiently from virtually anywhere.
  • Try Project Server 2013 Preview, our on-premises solution to set clear strategic priorities and help your team execute effectively against them.
  • With Project Professional 2013 Preview you can call or instant message right from your project with Lync*—just two new ways to improve collaboration while keeping your team productive and on track. (* Requires Lync Online or Lync 2013, which are sold separately.)

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Visio
The new Visio lets you easily create professional, versatile diagrams that help you organize and make sense of complex information.

  • Create diagrams more intuitively—including new and updated shapes and stencils, improved effects, and themes.
  • Make your diagrams more dynamic by linking shapes to real-time data, and then share them with others via Visio Services in SharePoint—even if they don’t have Visio installed.
  • Simplify teamwork with new coauthoring features.

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Office Professional Plus 2013
For IT pros, you can also try the Office Professional Plus 2013 MSI-based installation, which includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, Access, Publisher, and Lync. Note that this is not the Click-to-Run installation used by Office 365 ProPlus and does not support fast streaming installation or side-by-side operation with older versions of Office. In addition, you must uninstall the existing version of Office on your PC to try Office Professional Plus 2013.

Office at Its Best on Windows 8

  • Touch everywhere: Office responds to touch as naturally as it does to keyboard and mouse. Swipe your finger across the screen or pinch and zoom to read your documents and presentations. Author new content and access features with the touch of a finger.
  • Inking: Use a stylus to create content, take notes and access features. Handwrite email responses and convert them automatically to text. Use your stylus as a laser pointer when presenting. Color your content and erase your mistakes with ease.
  • New Windows 8 applications: OneNote and Lync represent the first new Windows 8 style applications for Office. These applications are designed to deliver touch-first experiences on a tablet. A new radial menu in OneNote makes it easy to access features with your finger.
  • Included in Windows RT: Office Home and Student 2013 RT, which contains new versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote applications, will be included on ARM-based Windows 8 devices, including Microsoft Surface.

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Office Is in the Cloud

  • SkyDrive: Office saves documents to SkyDrive by default, so your content is always available across your tablet, PC and phone. Your documents are also available offline and sync when you reconnect.
  • Roaming: Once signed in to Office, your personalized settings, including your most recently used files, templates and even your custom dictionary, roam with you across virtually all of your devices. Office even remembers where you last left off and brings you right back to that spot in a single click.
  • Office on Demand: With a subscription, you can access Office even when you are away from your PC by streaming full-featured applications to an Internet-connected Windows-based PC.
  • New subscription services: The new Office is available as a cloud-based subscription service. As subscribers, consumers automatically get future upgrades in addition to exciting cloud services including Skype world minutes and extra SkyDrive storage. Subscribers receive multiple installs for everyone in the family and across their devices.

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Office Is Social

  • Yammer: Yammer delivers a secure, private social network for businesses. You can sign up for free and begin using social networking instantly. Yammer offers integration with SharePoint and Microsoft Dynamics.
  • Stay connected: Follow people, teams, documents and sites in SharePoint. View and embed pictures, videos and Office content in your activity feeds to stay current and update your colleagues.
  • People Card: Have an integrated view of your contacts everywhere in Office. The People Card includes presence information complete with pictures, status updates, contact information and activity feeds from Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.
  • Skype: The new Office comes with Skype. When you subscribe, you get 60 minutes of Skype world minutes every month. Integrate Skype contacts into Lync and call or instant message anyone on Skype.

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Office Unlocks New Scenarios

  • Digital note-taking: Keep your notes handy in the cloud and across multiple devices with OneNote. Use what feels most natural to you — take notes with touch, pen or keyboard, or use them together and switch easily back and forth.
  • Reading and markup: The Read Mode in Word provides a modern and easy-to-navigate reading experience that automatically adjusts for large and small screens. Zoom in and out of content, stream videos within documents, view revision marks and use touch to turn pages.
  • Meetings: PowerPoint features a new Presenter View that privately shows your current and upcoming slides, presentation time, and speaker notes in a single glance. While presenting, you can zoom, mark up and navigate your slides with touch and stylus. Lync includes multiparty HD video with presentations, shared OneNote notebooks and a virtual whiteboard for collaborative brainstorming.
  • Eighty-two-inch touch-enabled displays: Conduct more engaging meetings, presentations and lessons, whether in person or virtually, with these multitouch and stylus-enabled displays from Perceptive Pixel.

March 25 2010

Enable Admin Audit Logging Exchange 2010

Exchange 2010 allows auditing of administrative actions. All actions can be audited or just specific cmdlets and parameters. To enable Audit Logging open the Exchange Management Shell and run the following commands.

Audit All cmdlets
Set-AdminAuditLogConfig -AdminAuditLogCmdlets *
or
Only audit New-Mailbox, all transport rules, all management, all set-transport cmdlets
Set-AdminAuditLogConfig -AdminAuditLogCmdlets New-Mailbox, *TransportRule, *Management, Set-Transport*

Set-AdminAuditLogConfig -AdminAuditLogParameters *

or

Set-AdminAuditLogConfig -AdminAuditLogParameters Database, *Address*, Custom*, *Region
Audits just the parameters that have Database, all parameters with *Address*, begins with Custom, ends with Region.

Set-AdminAuditLogConfig -AdminAuditLogMailbox [email protected]
All auditing is sent to the mailbox of AdminAudit.

Set-AdminAuditLogConfig -AdminAuditLogEnabled $True

 

SetAdminAuditLogEMS

All of the commands can be run on a single line if you prefer.

After creating a new mailbox by either using the EMC or the EMS, an email is sent to the AdminAudit Mailbox. Make sure the Mailbox is secured appropriately and archive or delete the mail after a specified amount of time. A command Set-AdminAuditLogConfig –AdminAuditLogAgeLimit DD.HH:MM:SS is not available for the RTM release of 2010 so be sure to watch the size of the mailbox.

Below is a screenshot of the message sent to the AdminAudit Mailbox after creating a new Mailbox and User.

AdminAuditLogEmail

November 20 2008

FREE SQL SERVER 2008 Software

Get the expert training you need to get the most from Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008—and the software—FREE when you enroll and attend select SQL courses at ISInc. With this expert training, you’ll learn to take advantage of the powerful and trustworthy array of new data-driven management solution of SQL Server 2008, plus come away with a free copy of the software.

 

That’s right. Enroll and attend any one of these 8 featured SQL Server 2008 training classes between December 10, 2008* and June 30, 2009 (while supplies last) and you’ll receive a fully-licensed copy of SQL Server 2008 Standard Edition with 1 CAL—FREE.

 

This offer is available for a limited time and only on these 8 courses while supplies last, so act now.  Contact us at 916.920.1700 or via email at [email protected] to register and remember to ask about the free software. You can also enroll directly into a class from the website and just type “FREE SOFTWARE” in the notes field to take advantage of this terrific offer.

 

Qualifying Classes:

 

2778 Writing Queries Using Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Transact—SQL

6158 Updating Your SQL 2005 Skills to SQL Server 2008

6231 Maintaining a Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Database

6232 Implementing a Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Database

6234 Implementing and Maintaining Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services

6235 Implementing and Maintaining Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Integration Services

6236 Implementing and Maintaining Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services

6317 Upgrading Your SQL Server 2000 Skills to SQL Server 2008

November 4 2008

SharePoint Consulting Services

Are you trying to kick off a successful project using Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007? Do you want to make sure you install and implement it using the industry best practices? Are you migrating from 2003 to 2007?

ISInc can help you kick off a successful implementation with SharePoint with our packaged consulting offerings!

More »

What is Microsoft Forefront?

This is exactly the question that I asked Tom Shinder, a Microsoft MVP on the Forefront Security product. He spent some time and came up with this posting for us to help you understand Microsoft’s offering around Forefront.

What is Microsoft Forefront?

Have you heard friends or colleagues mention Microsoft Forefront and wonder what they were talking about? If so, you’re not alone, as Microsoft Forefront is relatively new and just beginning to get real traction in the network security market.

The first thing you need to know is that there is no “Forefront” product. Instead, Forefront is a collection of Microsoft security products. This collection of Forefront security products is referred to as the “Forefront Security Suite”

More »

October 28 2008

Microsoft SharePoint 2007 Seminar

Thanks to everyone who attended our Microsoft SharePoint 2007 Seminar.  If your organization has any questions about how ISInc can help you learn, deploy, upgrade or manage your Microsoft SharePoint 2007 implementation, please contact us.

The slides from the presentation can be downloaded here:

Microsoft SharePoint 2007 Seminar by ISInc

If you are interested in our many training options, please look at our Microsoft SharePoint Training page for a list of available courses.

October 23 2008

Microsoft Alert – Critical Product Vulnerability – October 23, 2008 Microsoft Security Bulletin Release (Out of Band)

Microsoft just released an alert to provide you with an overview of the new security bulletin released (out of band) on Thursday, October 23, 2008. Microsoft has released security bulletin MS08-067, Vulnerability in Server Service Could Allow Remote Code Execution (958644), to address a vulnerability in all currently supported versions of Windows. This security update was released outside of the usual monthly security bulletin release cycle in an effort to protect customers. We request that you take action immediately by first assessing and preparing your own systems and networks and applying the security update, then reaching out to your customers to assist them in securing their systems and networks by applying the update.

 

Details about this security update are below, but here are your key resources:

 

·         The full bulletin for MS08-067 is available at http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/MS08-067.mspx

·         We recommend that you use the Microsoft TechNet Security TechCenter as a source of security information: http://technet.microsoft.com/security

 

Summary

 

This security update resolves a privately reported vulnerability in the Server service. The vulnerability could allow remote code execution if an affected system received a specially crafted RPC request. On Microsoft Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003 systems, an attacker could exploit this vulnerability without authentication to run arbitrary code. It is possible that this vulnerability could be used in the crafting of a wormable exploit. Firewall best practices and standard default firewall configurations can help protect network resources from attacks that originate outside the enterprise perimeter. The security update addresses the vulnerability by correcting the way that the Server service handles RPC requests.

 

Recommendations

 

Microsoft recommends that you assess your systems and networks and apply this security update to secure your systems and networks and to help ensure that your computers are protected from attempted criminal attacks.

 

New Security Bulletin Technical Details

 

Identifier

MS08-067

Severity Rating

This security update is rated Critical for all supported editions of Microsoft Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, and rated Important for all supported editions of Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.

Impact of Vulnerability

Remote Code Execution

Detection

Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer can detect whether your computer system requires this update.

Affected Software

All currently supported versions of Windows

Restart Requirement

The update requires a restart.

Removal Information

·         For Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003: Use Add or Remove Programs tool in Control Panel or the Spuninst.exe utility

·         For Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008: WUSA.exe does not support uninstall of updates. To uninstall an update installed by WUSA, click Control Panel, and then click Security. Under Windows Update, click View installed updates and select from the list of updates.

Bulletins Replaced by This Update

MS06-040 is superseded on these operating systems: Windows 2000 SP4, Windows XP SP2, Windows XP X64, Windows Server 2003 SP1, Windows Server 2003 X64, Windows Server 2003 SP1 for Itanium-based Systems.

Full Details:

http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/MS08-067.mspx

 

 

Regarding Information Consistency

 

We recommend that our customers use the Microsoft TechNet Security TechCenter as a key source of security information: http://technet.microsoft.com/security, and that you sign up for comprehensive alerts at http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/notify.mspx.  We strive to provide you with accurate information in static and dynamic (Web-based) content. Microsoft’s security content posted to the Web is occasionally updated to reflect late-breaking information. If this results in an inconsistency between the information here and the information in Microsoft’s Web-based security content, the information in Microsoft’s Web-based security content is authoritative. 

 

ISInc Support Options

If you are interested in ISInc support to keep your networks up to date, please contact us at 916-920-1700 to hear about our Managed Services options.