While the idea of Apple’s iPad Pro plus the smart keyboard and pen (see https://www.bapcs.co.uk/ipad-pro-boosts-productivity-and-creativity/) might have office types slavering at the idea of being productive with all that glorious 12.9-inch screen space, there’s a small hitch. While Microsoft may have taken to the stage to promote the new Office apps on the device, users will need an Office 365 subscription to do anything more productive than viewing documents.

That’s because Microsoft considers devices wider than 10 inches as productivity tools, so while you can download the Office app for free, you need to subscribe to Office 365 to gain access to the more usable features. For individual users, Office 365 costs £7.99 a month, providing access to cloud-stored documents on any device or within the desktop Office productivity apps.

You can save about 40% buying an annual subscription for £59. Office 365 for Business rates start from £3.10 per user per month, but that doesn’t include iPad support. However, the remaining tiers from Business, Business Premium and Enterprise levels do. Businesses with large numbers of users can get discounted enterprise rates. The Business plan allows installation of the Office suite, including Word, Excel, Outlook, OneNote and PowerPoint, on up to five devices. The higher tiers add in Microsoft’s communication and social tools, plus more storage, while the Enterprise version adds analytic and compliance features for major users.

The iPad Pro, while expensive for an office productivity tool, is Apple’s effort to get more businesses using iPads. The company has partnered with IBM, Microsoft and others to improve its business credentials. If all of that means users get to play some Infinity Blade III or Angry Birds 2 during their quiet time, then fair enough, but the emphasis will be on getting businesses to see the productive capabilities of iOS and not just the fun content.

With Microsoft set to launch its Surface Pro 4 next week, the company will soon be focused on its own hardware, and battle will be engaged as the two fight over business sales. But as Microsoft focuses on services first, there seems to be less enmity between the two.

 

ipad by Sean MacEntee licensed under Creative commons 4

The cloud is an increasingly popular buzzword among business IT, but as with any computing solution, there are pros and cons involved in moving your data or services from the desktops in your office to a cloud provider.

Pros

Using cloud services can save a fortune

No more up front desktop application licensing costs, no more auditing of software licenses, and a reduction in the level of office and IT department hardware expenditure.

The cloud promotes good backup behaviour

With data on your locals PCs or a server, it can be easy for a busy business to become lax about backing up. With data in the cloud, every business will be more keenly aware about losing access to that data, and will take the time to invest in better backup and access solutions.

Anytime, anywhere access

In an increasingly mobile world, accessing data from any location, be it a hotel, even in the air, at a conference or so on is becoming easier. You can also access information or services on your smartphone, tablet or a different PC, without worrying about keeping that information up to date.

Cons

You aren’t just relying on your cloud provider

Businesses also need a reliable and fast ISP for these services to feel like a desktop replacement. In many cases with notebook PCs or Macs, if your internet service suffers an outage your workers can switch to a mobile hotspot using their smartphone, but that’s a very short term solution.

Cloud providers go bust too

Major cloud service providers like Amazon or Salesforce aren’t going anywhere soon, but smaller cloud providing businesses do fail from time to time. Usually companies get a few days notice to move their data to another service, so having a migration plan is essential, as is investigating the credentials of the cloud provider.

Security isn’t in your hands

Some types of business are forbidden from using cloud services; the NHS, military, banking and financial service sectors all need in-house data. If you work with these types of businesses, be careful about what you can and cannot store in the cloud. Even if that doesn’t apply, ultimately your business is putting its data in someone else’s hands.

Naturally, most businesses have lots of questions when it comes to moving to cloud services or storage, and we can provide practical advice that is right for your organisation. We also provide business IT support and computer support in London, along with Apple Mac repairs.

Cloud Computing by JD Hancock licensed under Creative commons 4

As a business IT support service in the London area, we worry whenever any company thinks it might be tempted to upgrade some of their Mac or Windows PCs to the latest operating system beta.

However, the betas that Apple and Microsoft now offer to the general user base are a lot more stable than such tests used to be, and generally behave well with most software. Also, applications that don’t work are soon upgraded, in part due to the pressure of millions of users complaining that their product doesn’t work. There is also a lot of community support to help you identify common issues before you upgrade, or how to solve them if they occur.

So, there are benefits to running a beta operating system in the office: to help find any potential bugs, and to see how your business can take advantage of any of these features in products for customers or apps for users. It also encourages users to find out about the technology and new features, to improve their knowledge of systems.

With the release version of OS X, El Capitan, about to be made available, it won’t be too long before another beta for the next version of the OS arrives. At that point, it is probably worth putting your upgrade plans on hold, and letting all your users get used to the current OS. Not only is that good for office stability, but when the first beta of the next version arrives, it is likely to be a more radical change.

That will particularly be the case with iOS 10 (or iOS X, if Apple sticks to its naming traditions) when the company adds radical features to the next generation operating systems. Bear that in mind if you plan on sticking to the upgrade trail.

The same can be said of Microsoft, with the automatic update feature in its Insider program that will update the beta for you in Windows 10. At some point, these updates and betas will go wrong, break important apps and incapacitate a few devices – such is their nature. Of course, if something goes wrong, we offer computer support and Apple Mac repairs across London.

Over the years, Apple’s operating system updates have become largely smoother and less troublesome. So, last week, when iOS 9 arrived, apart from the usual scrum at 6pm UK time when it launched and Apple’s servers were flooded, things ran pretty smoothly. Yet, while our Apple and Mac repairs centre in London might have been a little less busy than in previous years, there is still plenty to report and advice to offer.

The new mobile OS is far smaller to download and install than iOS 8 at around 1.2GB, depending on your device. It will also smartly clean up the device’s storage to make space, if needed. For example, iOS 9 can temporarily delete large apps, and put them back in place once installation is completed, to save the user digging around to find space.

However, as tens of millions of users update devices, there are bound to be one or two issues. One such problem is users getting stuck at the Swipe to Upgrade screen, which Apple has outlined a fix for here (https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT205239) that involves using or making a backup.

Apple’s current Mac OS X update, Yosemite, has had rather longer to solve issues on users’ systems. The recent 10.10.5 update fixes some issues, with the usual “stability, compatibility, and security” tags on the update. That includes a problem Mail users were having after the previous update.

Many users, however, are still having trouble with WiFi and Bluetooth; if this affects your system and none of the freely available tips online help, get in touch and we can perform a more thorough diagnosis at our computer repair centre in London.

If nothing seems to be working, the OS X El Capitan release due next week should help resolve some of these problems, while probably creating a batch of new ones. We’ll be on hand to provide all the business IT support, upgrade advice and troubleshooting you need to get up and running with the new OS on the block.

Let us know if you have any issues with any of Apple’s new operating systems or the new hardware.

 

If you run a small business, you know that it’s important to keep careful control of your budget. So you may be hesitant to take advantage of cloud computing, because you will need to pay a cloud provider (or vendor) for their services. However, cloud computing is far more cost effective than developing and maintaining your own IT infrastructure. What’s more, it can be used for data storage, to access Software as a Service (SaaS) programs and to handle customer demand for your website. In short, it’s almost completely indispensable to modern small businesses. But your concerns over budget are still valid and important. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of cost-saving tips to help reduce the cost of your cloud-computing activities.

 

1. Shop around

Many small businesses don’t realise just how many cloud computing vendors are available. If you want to find a cloud computing solution that fits your budgetary requirements, you will need to research as many different vendors as possible. If you look carefully enough, you will find one who offers a solution that suits your needs at a price you can afford.
 

2. Only pay for what you need

Cloud computing is infinitely scalable. That’s part of the appeal! You can buy as much space for data storage in the cloud as you need, or rent SaaS for as long as you need it. You can even purchase huge amounts of server-space to deal with customers viewing and interacting with your website. However, you need to be careful. It’s easy to overestimate the amount of space you need in the cloud, or the amount of time you will use a particular piece of SaaS. This can cause your costs to rise rapidly, as you pay for cloud services that you don’t really need and which aren’t creating any benefits for your business. To avoid this, you should calculate your cloud computing needs carefully before paying for anything.
 

3. Don’t be afraid to change vendor

If a cloud computing solution isn’t working well for you and doesn’t seem to be cost-effective, don’t be afraid to scrap it and go back to the drawing board. In the long run, the cost of changing to a new vendor with a new solution is generally lower than maintaining an ineffective and pricey cloud computing solution. This is because cloud computing has few physical requirements, so you don’t need to replace or change any of your own IT infrastructure when you shift from one vendor to another.

Many small businesses are intimidated by the potential cost of cloud computing, but there’s no need to be. By reading our simple tips, you’ve already taken the first step to cost-effective cloud computing. Here at Bits and PCs, we’ve provided business IT support in London for long enough to know that the benefits of cloud computing can’t be overlooked. You just need to know how to get the best price!