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Web and email applications

  • Hotmail to be replaced by Outlook.com in Microsoft switch

    06 August 2012

    Microsoft is revamping its free webmail service by ditching the Hotmail brand and replacing it with Outlook.com.

    The new service will automatically sort emails as they arrive in the inbox by recognising messages from listed contacts, identifying social media notifications, newsletters and other ‘labels’ assigned by the user.

    Links to social media accounts, Google and most excitingly, Skype are the main up-date of Outlook.com. It aims to bring relevant context and communications to your email experience. The Outlook.com inbox will “come alive with photos of friends, status updates, Tweets and the ability to video-call.” The service is kept up-to-date by linking to your email and social media contact lists.

    The move will see features of the desktop email program of the same name favoured by businesses now available as a personal email service. Its in-built Office apps are in answer to other web-based applications such as Google Docs and its cloud storage platform Skydrive also comes as standard, quashing attachment size limits and rivalling Google Drive and other document and photo sharing programs like Dropbox.

    On the surface the up-dated email program looks the part with a clean user interface but industry experts have given it mixed reviews.

    Microsoft claim Outlook.com is the first email service to connect to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like but others are sceptical of this statement and instead said it lacks innovation. One reviewer suggested there was in fact no new technology and that filtering tools and social network integration have been around for a while. Claims of reverse-consummation - essentially reworking the Outlook business tool for the mass market - have also been heard.

    By far its praises have been for its integration with Skype which is an industry first.

    You can sign up for a new Outlook.com email address now. Existing Microsoft email account holders with Hotmail, MSN or Live emails aren’t being forced to the new platform just yet and can continue using their email programs as normal.

    Anyone interested in learning more about the plethora of Microsoft business applications are invited to explore the range of courses offered by Total Training Solutions. To enquiry about a course or to book your place please call 0800 612 1299 or email info@tts-uk.com.

  • Exchange 2013 coming soon

    14 August 2012

    In a nutshell Exchange 2013 ensures your communications are always available.

    Microsoft’s Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) was designed to sync Exchange-based data with mobile devices using the web. With Exchange 2013, Microsoft is now beginning to use EAS technology in its Windows-based email clients by providing push-based access to email, contacts and appointments.

    This new industry standard keeps your data on the server, in the cloud or somewhere in between where it can be accessed (synced) from anywhere at any time, using any connected EAS client (smart phones, tablets and PCs.) Should you choose to move your email and office features to the web, Exchange 2013 gives you the tools to manage and sync connected clients immediately using push. This includes calendars and documents as well as email.

    The web-based Exchange Administration Centre (EAC) provides role-based access control to users to perform specific tasks without requiring full administrative permissions. It allows you to manage powerful capabilities including Data Loss Prevention (DLP) and site mailboxes. Deep content analysis and PolicyTips inform users about policy violations before sensitive data is sent. Site mailboxes allow for collaborative work and shared information through co-authoring, document storage and versioning via SharePoint.

    Exchange archiving, large mailboxes and retention policies offer vast flexibility. With emails on demand in your primary mailbox or in clearly a defined archive, productivity is heightened and users are in control of their own storage.

    To learn more about Exchange 2013 and to get up-to-speed with Microsoft products and advancement please visit the Total Training Solutions course directory. If you need any help finding a qualification that is right for you, have any questions or would like to book your place on one of our courses, please email info@tts-uk.com or call 0800 612 1299.

  • Windows Server 2012 – are you ready?

    20 August 2012

    Even with the move to cloud computing, there is still a need for the small business server: enter Windows Server 2012.

    Microsoft’s latest product trumps its predecessor, Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, which many believe fell short of expectation. The new version hosts applications, manages directory services and more. It mixes business and consumer features providing opportunity for resellers to combine the key elements of Office 365 (Microsoft’s cloud offering) and Windows Server 2012 Essentials as a small business package.

    Getting started is easy and the server experience simplified:

    • Easy installation that only requires an administrator and initial user account
    • A setup checklist helps you get a system ready for users and helps ensure you're ready to take a server live
    • Built-in Dashboard with tools for managing your server and your users
    • User accounts can be given different levels of access to the shared folders.

    The tie-up with Windows 8’s File History helps ensure files are backed-up. PC’s already running Windows 8 will automatically configure to store the history.

    To simplify access to shared resources and for remote access to a server, Windows Server 2012 still uses LaunchPad to handle full device backups. Watch out for Windows 8 Metro and Windows Phone client to support additional remote access.

    Windows Server 2012 in the Cloud
    Windows Server 2012 doesn’t come with an email server but is easily adaptable to any email program. It can quickly connect to Office 365 or an Exchange Server running on your network. Multiple server management is easy as long as Windows Server 2012 is the only Active Directory server in the network.

    The full Windows Server Manager is also available, complete with support for some of its more complex features including the ability to use PowerShell to create management scripts.

    Other features

    Moving away from the Server Manager, Windows Sever 2012 Essentials also provides storage support with Storage Spaces, Microsoft’s new storage solution. Using new technologies it builds thin storage pools to house data, much like the Drive Extender features of Windows Home Server, but with a simpler management system.

    Windows Server 2012 Essentials allows your network and business to grow and achieves this by growing with you; when you reach its 25-user limit, you can do an in-place upgrade to Windows Server 2012 Standard. The majority of the Essentials features continue to be supported (up 75 users), allowing you time to build a larger Windows network.

    Its flexibility is further highlighted by the addition of consumer features; a media server is included for you to store photos, videos and music and available to use via desktop music players and network connected devices.

    Find out more about Windows Server and other Microsoft products from Total Training Solutions. For up-to-the-minute information on course content and availability please call 0800 612 1299 or email info@tts-uk.com.

  • Microsoft announce release date for Windows 8

    28 August 2012

    Windows 8 is coming - 26th October 2012 is the date for your diary!

    Microsoft will launch their new OS system, an update described by the company as “the most important redesign of its interface in more than a decade.

    By far its most attractive feature is the touch-controlled interface known as Metro. It helps bring a fresh look and feel to OS functionality with Windows 8 appearing more like a mobile device with personalised apps dominating the desktop.

    This is a conscious move by Microsoft to place itself in the thick of the tablet revolution. Traditionally making software to install on PCs and operate computer networks, Microsoft has had to adjust its focus to the online software and storage and mobile device markets which are undoubtedly the future of personal and business IT.

    Windows 8 is a single system that can power both desktop PCs and mobile devices - allowing programs to work on both. Further to this movement, Microsoft has also announced its own hardware - the Surface tablet - to compete with other companies' products.

    More about Metro
    The tile-based applications run in full-screen or in docked modes and can share information between each other. They will only be available through the Windows Store.

    The traditional desktop environment for running desktop applications is accessed via a tile on the new Start screen. The Start button has been removed from the taskbar in favour of a Start button on the new charm bar, as well as a hotspot in the bottom-left corner. Both open the new Start screen, which replaces the Start menu.

    Other features include:
    Internet Explorer 10 is included as a desktop program and touch-optimized app.

    Picture password and PIN log-in authentication methods have been added.

    Doing away with Windows Live ID, it is now possible to log into Windows using a Microsoft account. This allows the user's profile and settings to be synced via the web and accessible from other computers running Windows 8. Integration with SkyDrive is also possible.

    Using hibernation technology in Hybrid Boot, Windows core memory is saved in the hard disk and reloaded upon boot allowing faster start-up times.

    Windows 8 Enterprise can boot and run from a bootable USB device, flash drive and the like via Windows To Go.

    File Explorer will have its own ribbon toolbar and file operation has been improved with the ability to pause transfers and better manage conflicts when copying files.

    Refresh and Reset recovery - Refresh restores all Windows files to their original state while keeping settings, files, and apps, Reset takes the computer back to factory default settings.

    To learn more about Windows and other Microsoft services you can ask the friendly team at Total Training Solutions. Available via phone on 0800 612 1299 or email at info@tts-uk.com you can book your place or enquire about any of their courses. Take a look at the course directory first to find the course to suit you.

  • What is Mobile Development?

    07 March 2013

    Wi-Fi, 3G and now 4G have enabled people to access the internet on the go. This is complemented by the huge popularity of mobile devices - tablets as well as smart phones. The importance of the mobile internet, therefore, cannot be underestimated.

    It is very frustrating to access a website on a mobile phone only to find out there is no mobile version of it. Not only does this cause problems with the speed of the website, but it is very likely that your screen will be too small to view all of the website without having to zoom in and scroll across. The main aim of mobile development is to solve problems such as this and to improve the overall experience for the mobile user.

    Mobile devices and mobile internet are now quick enough for mobile versions of websites to load just as quickly as normal websites do on a PC. Hence, there is no excuse for companies to not have a mobile web presence as well as their regular website. Mobile website development helps to provide this presence.

    Along with mobile website development, there is mobile application development. Mobile applications are commonly known as ‘apps’, such as the ones you would download from Apple’s App Store. These assist mobile users in experiencing certain services they may require while on the go. NatWest, for example, have a mobile banking app. Rather than having customers do their banking through a mobile web browser, account holders can download an application which makes the whole process much quicker and more streamlined.

    Mobile development is all about making mobile services just as good as the full-blown PC versions, while also making sure they are optimised for the best possible performance on mobile devices.

    If you are interested in learning how to develop mobile websites and apps, please call Total Training Solutions today on 0800 612 1299, or contact us via the website.

  • Any business with growth ambitions should be looking hard at their mobile strategy

    14 March 2013

    Last week we looked at what mobile development is and how it can be used. This week we turn our attention to how important mobile development is in order to help your business grow.

    In 2010 over 50 percent of all internet access, worldwide, came from mobile devices. Therefore if you do not have a mobile strategy of any kind, you have all but lost access to 50 percent of the world’s internet traffic. While your regular website would appear on mobile devices, it is likely that visitors will get impatient with its slow speed and overall clumsiness. Therefore it is important to run a mobile website.

    An excellent way of building brand awareness is to create mobile apps. If you manage to create an app which is useful to people they will download a piece of software to their device which has your brand all over it. In many cases, this can mean that they have access to and are exposed to your company without even having an internet connection.

    Maps services are a good way of making sure that customers can find you while they are on the move. It is important, therefore, to enter your location into Google Maps, particularly if you are a high street business that relies heavily on footfall.

    Another thing to consider as part of your mobile strategy is mobile adverts. Your ads can be seen by customers at all times, not just when they are sitting at a PC or laptop. As you would expect, this makes the adverts more effective and research has shown that mobile ads are actually 5 times better than their internet counterparts.

    If you are looking to develop and implement your mobile strategy but are unsure how to go about it, give Total Training Solutions a call today on 0800 612 1299 or contact us via the website.

  • Mobile app development - helping you to develop your own corporate apps

    21 March 2013

    The majority of people using mobile apps today use them for either games or social media. However, retail and corporate apps have come to the front more recently and are very much on the rise. It’s therefore, becoming increasingly important for firms to engage in mobile app development. You don’t need to be a games developer or a social media tycoon to have a presence in the app store.

    Many business people argue that businesses need to develop apps that engage customers in some way. In many cases, apps can be used to provide a better service to customers. This makes it more simple when it comes to designing the app. The ebay app, for example, simply improves the ebay service for the mobile platform. The difficulty (or the art) of designing apps comes when there is no obvious way of putting your business into a mobile app.

    If your company provides a product or service that does not lend itself well to mobile apps, your mobile app development process will need to be more creative. For example, if you are an accounting firm, there may be very few aspects of your service that can be offered through a mobile application. What you could do, however, is develop a tax calculator app (or something along those lines) with your company’s brand name on it. This will engage potential customers by providing something that is useful to them, while also raising awareness of your company.

    In short, mobile app development should not be forgotten simply because you cannot develop an app to enhance your service. Mobile is a platform that cannot be ignored and apps can be an effective marketing tool as well as a genuine service.

    If you are looking to acquire the skills that will enable you, your colleagues or staff to develop apps, give Total Training Solutions a call today on 0800 612 1299 or contact us via the website.

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