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what is sharepoint

Posted by Dennis Junk on Mon, Jul 08, 2013

As your business grows beyond the point where all your employees work in nearby offices, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep everyone on the same page. What SharePoint does is carve out a little nook in the internet where everyone can stay in touch virtually. Pages and information can be arranged by department and role. But each individual worker is kept plugged in to the company as a whole.

Simply put, SharePoint is what you use to create your business’s own place on the web where all your employees can sign in when they get to work. Think of the MSN or Yahoo home pages but geared just to the people who work at your company. You sign in, see company news and announcements, and have access to all your standard web tools like email and calendars. You also have access to all the company documents you may need to read or edit, along with updates on projects currently underway and information on clients.

It’s important to note that SharePoint out-of-the-box and SharePoint as you can get it customized by software developers are two very different things. SharePoint can be customized to encompass almost any aspect of business computing. And it’s really this customizability that makes SharePoint such a powerful tool.

SharePoint is often referred to as an “intranet platform” and a “collaboration tool.” Here’s what those terms mean:

Intranet Platform:

This just means that your SharePoint pages are internally facing—they’re designed for people insideyour company. Employees all sign in to the same place. They all go to the same folders for files and documents. And they can all see schedules, calendars, and contact information for their coworkers. This helps them coordinate their efforts, makes communicating easier, and keeps everyone from getting lost trying to find the information they need. The design of the pages can even be customized to convey brand identity so it serves as a prompt and a reminder of both the company’s mission and its style.

SharePoint is also commonly used to create extranet platforms which enable outside companies you’re partnering with to access relevant pages.

Collaboration Tool:

Documents can be saved on SharePoint instead of on your PC’s hard drive. This keeps you from having to email a copy to everyone who needs to read or edit it. Every time you email an attached document, you’re creating another version of that document. So if you have three people working on it, you end up with three different versions. But if the document is on SharePoint, all three people can locate, view, edit, and save changes to it at the same time—and you never have to worry about different people working on different versions. And this is just one aspect of how SharePoint makes it easier to collaborate. One other area it’s commonly used for is keeping track of records on clients. But scheduling, meetings, and events can all be organized through SharePoint.

This is a highly general description of what SharePoint is and what it does. If you have a particular issue you’re wondering if SharePoint might help you resolve, feel free to contact us through our website.

Dropbox vs. Google Drive vs. Box vs. SkyDrive vs. SkyDrive Pro

Posted by Mark Gordon on Wed, Jul 03, 2013
Over the last decade, internet connections have gotten significantly faster, an order of magnitude faster in many cases. This has made remote storage and retrieval of even relatively large files and directories possible. In the last few years, use of remote file storage solutions has taken off. You are more than likely using one yourself. There is money to be made in cloud storage, and today there are a host of cloud storage solutions available that allow you to back up and share files with others, as well as between your own machines. Most of these services offer some level of storage for free and allow you to add more storage for a price.

But just a few are capturing the majority of the marketplace, among them Dropbox, Google Drive, box, and SkyDrive. Below is a survey of what they have to offer and what you may not know about them.



  • Cloud-based file storage with the ability to share
  • Soon will allow integrated authentication with Active Directory

Best Qualities:

  • 2 GB free personal storage
  • Simplicity of interface
  • Ease of sign-up and installation
  • The name Dropbox has become nearly synonymous with cloud file storage and sharing


  • Designed as a consumer/personal solution
  • Not a collaboration solution
  • No corporate control of document sharing or retention in personal accounts
  • No auditing, legal discovery in personal accounts
  • No ability to host sensitive files on premise–US Government can blind subpoena your data at any time


  • Dropbox has gone viral giving users extra storage for signing up their friends. With so many people using Dropbox with their friends today, your corporate files are most likely up here without any controls unless you have implemented another solution for your users.

Google Drive


  • Cloud-based file storage built into the Google universe
  • Integrated with Google Apps

Best Qualities:

  • Free 5 GB personal storage
  • Online readers for rendering many types of files in your browser
  • Online Editors for Office documents
  • Integration with other Google offerings like Gmail


  • Designed as a consumer/personal solution
  • Online editing is not full fidelity and documents may not look the way you expect on the desktop after editing
  • No corporate control of document sharing or retention in personal accounts
  • No auditing, legal discovery in personal accounts
  • No ability to host sensitive files on premise–US Government can blind subpoena your data at any time


  • Google’s user agreement states that they have the right to scan all your content and sell information about you to anyone. They also reserve the right to create derivative works based on files or documents you put in Google Drive



  • Cloud-based collaboration suite

Best Qualities:

  • Designed for business
  • Good set of collaboration tools
  • Similar in many ways to SharePoint


  • Expensive
  • Separate set of collaboration tools to learn and manage if your people are used to Office and SharePoint
  • No ability to host sensitive files on premise–US Government can blind subpoena your data at any time


  • Box is an all-or-nothing solution. If you have sensitive data, you cannot host it on premise and integrate it into your corporate Box environment
  • When implementing any corporate collaboration solution, you should plan before you deploy



  • Cloud-based file storage built into the Microsoft universe
  • Integrated with

Best Qualities:

  • Free 7 GB personal storage
  • Online readers for rendering many types of files in your browser
  • Full fidelity of online editors for Office documents
  • Integration with other Microsoft offerings
  • Microsoft user privacy agreement gives you full ownership of your files and documents; Microsoft does not scan them or sell data about you


  • Designed as a consumer/personal solution
  • No corporate control of document sharing or retention in personal accounts
  • No auditing, legal discovery in personal accounts
  • No ability to host sensitive files on premise–US Government can blind subpoena your data at any time


  • Even though Microsoft is not reading your documents, the US Government legally can

SkyDrive Pro


  • Corporate file management solution
  • Integrated with SharePoint 2013

Best Qualities:

  • Low cost, SkyDrive Pro comes as part of the complete SharePoint Online subscription which is $3.00 user/month
  • 7 GB personal storage for SharePoint Online users
  • Ability to host Online, On-Premises or Hybrid with seamless user experience
  • Online readers for rendering many types of files in your browser
  • Online editors for Office documents
  • Full integration with Office and Windows
  • Granular control and monitoring of documents
    • No sharing, corporate sharing or external sharing
    • Full auditing of read, edit, search, etc.
    • Legal hold and discovery
    • Retention policies
  • No ability for US Government to blind subpoena your sensitive documents from on premise or hybrid environments


  • No free option


  • When implementing any corporate collaboration solution, you should plan before you deploy

The table below gives you an idea of the range of the services available:

cloud storage options

Microsoft issues partners Windows XP phase-out marching orders

Summary: Microsoft is rolling out new programs and incentives to encourage its resellers to help it move its still-sizable base of Windows XP users off that operating system by April 2014.

Mary Jo Foley

By  for All About Microsoft |

As Microsoft officials reminded the company’s reseller partners on July 8, there are only 273 more days until the Redmondians drop all support for Windows XP.


Starting April 8, 2014, there will be no more patches or updates — including security ones — issued for Windows XP. This is despite the fact that Windows XP still had an estimated 37 percent share of all desktop operating systems as of June 2013.

Microsoft and its partners have a lot of work to do between now and then to try to get more businesses off Windows XP. During the first day of the company’s Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston, officials reminded resellers and systems integrators of their marching orders around the 11-year-old operating system.

Microsoft’s top Windows priorities for its fiscal year 2014 (which began on July 1, 2013) are to move all businesses off XP and to become the number one business tablet in the market, said Erwin visser, General Manager of Windows Commercial, during a breakout session at the show.

Microsoft and its partners would need to migrate 586,000 PCs per day over the next 273 days in order to get rid of all PCs running Windows XP, Visser said. Microsoft’s actual goal is to get the XP base below 10 percent of the total Windows installed base by that time, he said.

Visser told partners that there’s an estimated $32 billion service opportunity for them in moving users off XP, given that companies are spending an average of $200 per PC to move off XP to Windows 7 or Windows 8.

Microsoft is making available new programs, offers, tools and partnerships to help encourage more users to abandon XP, Visser said. He noted that Microsoft will be spending $40 million in fiscal 2014 to continue its Windows Accelerate Program, which is its pre-sales program for moving more of its customers to a “modern environment.” As part of Accelerate, Microsoft pays some of its reseller and integrator partners to create “proof of concept” Metro-Style apps to show customers what’s possible if they move to Windows 8.

Microsoft also is extending its  program called “Get to Modern,” which is aimed primarily at small/mid-size business (SMB) users. Visser said these kinds of users typically don’t plan two to three years ahead for major migrations. As a result, many of these SMBs who still may be running Windows XP, will need partners to help them institute a quick-turnaround XP migration program.

HP and Microsoft also are working together on a new joint XP migration campaign. Details of that program — which include specially priced HP ElitePads preloaded with Windows 8 for those agreeing to move off XP to Windows 8, are available on the site.

Microsoft officials also touted at the partner conference another new program known asTouchWins, which is a new channel incentive for featured Windows devices. Authorized distributors and resellers who sell PCs and tablets with Windows 8 Pro and touch will qualify for additional benefits, as outlined here.

cybersecurity-computersThe National Security Agency – NSA has backdoor access via Microsoft Windows, to all Windows software since the release of Windows 95, according to informed sources, a development which follows the insistence by the agency and federal law enforcement for backdoor “keys” to any encryption, according to a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

Having such “keys” is essential for the export of any encryption allowed under U.S. export control laws to foreign users.

The NSA plays a prominent role in deliberations over whether such products can be exported, and routinely turns down any requests above a certain megabyte level that exceeds NSA’s technical capacity to decrypt it. That’s been the standard for years for NSA, as well as the departments of Defense, Commerce and State.

Computer security specialists say that the Windows software driver used for security and encryption functions contains unusual features which give NSA that backdoor access.

These security specialists have identified the driver as ADVAPI.DLL. It enables and controls a variety of security functions. These specialists say that on Windows, it is located at C:\\Windows\system directory of anyone’s computer that uses Windows software.

Nicko van Someren says the driver contains two different keys. One was used by Microsoft to control cryptographic functions in Windows while another initially remained a mystery.

Then, two weeks ago, a U.S. security firm concluded that the second key belonged to NSA. Analysis of the driver revealed that one was labeled KEY while the other was labeled NSAKEY, according to sources. The NSA key apparently had been built into the software by Microsoft, which Microsoft sources don’t deny.

This has allowed restricted access to Microsoft’s source code software that allows for such programming.

Access to Windows source code is supposed to be highly compartmentalized, actually making such actions easier because many of the people working on the software wouldn’t see the access.

Such access to the encryption system of Windows can allow NSA to compromise a person’s entire operating system. The NSA keys are said to be contained inside all versions of Windows from Windows 95 OSR2 onwards.

Having such the secret key inside your Windows operating system makes it “tremendously easier for the NSA to load unauthorized security services on all copies of Microsoft Windows, and once these security services are loaded, they can effectively compromise your entire operating system,” according to Andrew Fernandez, chief scientist with Cryptonym Corporation of North Carolina.


Posted by 


Microsoft and Windows 8 are squarely blamed in a new report from top research firm IDC for a startling plunge in PC sales last quarter.

The firm said global PC sales suffered one of their steepest drops in decades over the past three months, the first full quarter since Windows 8 went on sale last fall.

Declines were expected since PC sales have fallen during the past year, and the leading manufacturers are casting about for new strategies. But the severity of the drop was unexpected and Microsoft’s radically new operating system is the most obvious target for blame.

Yet it’s still too early to write the PC’s epitaph. It will take another year or so to see whether Windows 8 is accepted by business users, who drive most PC sales.

The quarterly statistics are also an imperfect gauge of the evolution of the PC beyond laptops and desktops into tablets and other new devices. Research firms have made this more confusing by issuing contradictory reports, using different definitions of what’s a PC.

Gartner, the other major research firm tracking PC sales, simultaneously issued a report saying PC sales fell 11.2 percent during the quarter. It said PC shipments fell below 80 million units for the first time since the second quarter of 2009, in the depth of the recession.

IDC said sales in the U.S. fell 12.7 percent from the same period last year and 18.3 percent from the previous quarter. Global sales were down 13.9 percent, almost double the 7.7 percent drop the firm had predicted.

IDC doesn’t count Windows 8 tablets or laptops with detachable keyboards in its PC count. Research vice president Bob O’Donnell said including them would change the numbers by less than 2 percent.

Gartner’s report said consumers are continuing to “migrate content consumption” from PCs to other devices, such as phones and tablets, leading to a full year of declines in PC shipments. Yet the firm saw growth in business sales of PCs, which account for more than half the market.

Generally, even with the sharply declining numbers, people are still buying a lot of PCs. Gartner said 79.2 million systems were sold last quarter, while IDC said 76.3 million units were sold.

IDC’s report came with an unusually sharp critique of Microsoft and its approach with Windows 8.

“At this point, unfortunately, it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market,” O’Donnell said in the IDC release.  “While some consumers appreciate the new form factors and touch capabilities of Windows 8, the radical changes to the UI [user interface], removal of the familiar Start button and the costs associated with touch have made PCs a less attractive alternative to dedicated tablets and other competitive devices. Microsoft will have to make some very tough decisions moving forward if it wants to help reinvigorate the PC market.”

Asked for a response, Microsoft provided a statement saying that the PC market “is evolving and highly dynamic” and that today’s PCs “come in multiple forms” that “revolutionize the desktop PC.”

“Windows 8 sold over 60 million licenses in its first few months — a strong start by any measure,” it said. “Along with our partners we continue to bring even more innovation to market across tablets and PCs.”

HP remained the top PC maker, but Lenovo closed the gap by holding sales steady while HP’s sales fell nearly 24 percent, according to IDC.

Tablets such as Apple’s iPad were partly to blame. Even sales of Apple PCs suffered from competition with iPads, IDC said in its release. O’Donnell said the cycle will continue, as tablets are going to see sales siphoned off by mega-sized phones or phablets.

Still, IDC research found that most consumers aren’t buying tablets to replace PCs, but to supplement their computers. They’re still interested in PCs but the strikingly different tiled interface of Windows 8 and the higher price of touchscreen PCs showcasing the system are keeping them away, O’Donnell said in an interview.

“While people like the general look and feel of the tiles, they’re also very confused and frustrated by the lack of start menu and spend a lot of their time in [traditional] desktop mode,” he said. “So the bottom line is I think they have created a situation where it’s very difficult for people and people who have a PC that works just fine are saying it’s confusing, it costs more money and I don’t really need it.”

O’Donnell said Microsoft isn’t entirely to blame. The economy still isn’t great, sales in China were particularly weak and reorganizations and strategy shifts at top PC vendors Dell and HP have created uncertainty, particularly for business customers.

But he and other IDC researchers believe the Redmond company must make changes to revive the industry built around its software.

“Although IDC had not expected Windows 8 to be a significant driver to help stem the tide of PC volume decline, it now appears that without a course correction from Microsoft, the PC market is headed toward an even worse contraction for 2013 than previously thought,” Jay Chou, senior research analyst on IDC’s quarterly PC tracking service, said in the release.

O’Donnell said he’s suggested to Microsoft that the company give Windows 8 users the option to make the traditional desktop the default setting, and restore the old fashioned “start” button, but he’s not counting on a change.

“I think this is the pride before the fall – because they are unwilling to make those changes, because it would show them as having given up or lost on their radical new vision,” he said.

Here is IDC’s ranking of the top PC vendors last quarter:

IDC q113


Lincoln Spector  Lincoln Spector @lincolnspector
Windows 8 Desktop

I’m writing this in a Microsoft Word 2010 window that fills less than half of my screen. Also visible are two Chrome windows—one containing my inbox, the other some pages relevant to this article—and Windows Media Player, which reports to me that I’m listening to Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony. I can easily get to any installed program with a few clicks of my mouse.

You can probably guess that I’m not using Windows 8. I have a copy of it set up on another PC for testing purposes, but for the PC I do my work on, I need a powerful and versatile operating system that lets me arrange programs and windows as I see fit. For these purposes, Windows 7 qualifies; Windows 8 does not.

Read more

Loyd Case @loydcase

About the Start screen:First, let’s deal with the divisive Start screen. I’ll admit that I had some misgivings on this score initially. But once I realized that the Windows 8 Start screen simply replaces the old Start menu, my reluctance about moving to Windows 8 vanished. The Start screen is flat, rather than hierarchical, as earlier Windows OSs are; however, that simplification in design makes it much easier to navigate. Whether you use a touch-enabled screen, a laptop touchpad, or the scrollwheel on a mouse, practically everything you need for launching and managing applications is right there, within easy reach. And if you’re a Start menu diehard, you can right-click the lower left portion of the Start screen to bring up a simplified Start menu.

Windows 8 Desktop
Mouse users can right-click in the lower-left area to bring up the useful simplified Start menu. Read more
By Gregg Keizer, Computerworld
Windows XP Desktop
On the same day Microsoft loudly proclaims Windows 8 in New York, the aging-but-still-going Windows XP today quietly celebrated its 11th birthday.On Oct. 25, 2001, Microsoft launched Windows XP, unknowingly unleashing its most successful operating system ever.If they only could do the same today, the company’s executives must think as they assemble for a day-long Windows 8 launch party.“It was a good operating system,” said David Johnson, an analyst with Forrester, in an interview today. “It was a very, very good operating system … a superb OS because it removed a lot of pain.” Read more
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer introducing Windows 8

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer introducing Windows 8

Microsoft introduced Windows 8 to the public Thursday, showcasing the touchable and intuitive operating system on a slew of desktops, laptops, and tablets from the company’s OEM partners. (Related: PCWorld Windows 8 review )

While Microsoft executives highlighted the differences between Windows 8 and Windows RT, a distinction in desperate need of clarification for consumers, the event unveiled no surprises or high-profile app announcements. “More to come” was an oft-repeated phrase.

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On October 14, Microsoft began airing its first television commercials for its Windows 8 operating system.

A short post on the Microsoft Windows Team Blog acknowledged the start of the ad campaign.

The commercials are expected to be prominently featured during the Sunday National Football League games broadcast on TV here. No word as to where else they are being shown.

Microsoft is launching Windows 8 in New York City on October 25. Sales of PCs from Microsoft and other vendors preloaded with Windows 8 and Windows RT begin on October 26.

Microsoft’s Windows ad agency of record, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, is also behind the new ads.

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