ThinkTech Blog

4 Key Answers About The Updated Microsoft Enterprise Agreement

Posted on Dec 01, 2015


Earlier this year in anticipation of the then upcoming Windows 10 release, Microsoft also updated their Enterprise Agreement in an effort to streamline the services offered to their top client accounts. We here at FedSolutions, have since been asked time and time again about what does this new EA actually mean for businesses and organizations – and here we will attempt to address the most important aspects of these changes.

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Why The New Microsoft Update Process is Working Better Than Anyone Hoped

Posted on Nov 06, 2015


Despite the concerted efforts by Apple and Google fan-bloggers, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the Windows 10 has brought Microsoft back from the brink. With an estimated 120 million machines now running the latest version of Windows, it seems that Satya Nadela’s target of 1 billion devices in three years was quite a conservative goal to begin with. What is even more astounding is that if a recent survey commissioned by network monitoring company Spiceworks is to be believed, enterprise adoption of Windows 10 is advancing much quicker than anyone hoped and currently stands at around 11% of enterprise environments, and almost double that percentage among ICT enterprises.[1] Read more »

Why Office 365 for Business Admins Need to Enable Cortana Integration With the Latest Office 2016 Update

Posted on Sep 25, 2015


On the 22nd of September, Microsoft made available it’s latest Office 2016 productivity suite as an update to the growing number of Office 365  subscribers. We jumped at the opportunity to test this release ourselves and try and see whether the marketing is believable.

With the official release (Office 2016 Preview was available for insiders and developers for some time), Microsoft announced a renewed focus towards realtime collaboration, and additional project planning apps and team collaboration tools that should become part of the package as early as next quarter.

“The way people work has changed dramatically, and that’s why Microsoft is focused on reinventing productivity and business processes for the mobile-first, cloud-first world. These latest innovations take another big step forward in transforming Office from a familiar set of individual productivity apps to a connected set of apps and services designed for modern working, collaboration and teamwork.”said Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft.

After a long while, Microsoft appears to be back in the game and is finally listening to what people are asking for. There is no doubt that Office has always been the go-to tool for any type of serious office work, from professional documents, and financial models to school presentations. For a moment there it seems, Office started lagging behind in some areas to lighter but free alternatives like Google Docs – especially when it came to realtime collaboration within teams. Now, with Windows 10 already out, the acquisition of the Skype brand and re-branding of Lync, OneDrive storage and across the board Cortana integration, we can’t help by feel that the pieces are finally coming together. Office 2016 promises to make teamwork seamless and to a great extent it is just now starting to deliver. The release talked about a lot of upcoming apps and functions, but what impressed us the most was:

  • Real-time co-authoring was there in web apps since 2013, and is finaly built it directly into the native apps. This practically makes co-authoring in Word real-time meaning it lets you see what others are writing as it happens. This function is expected to roll out to all apps in the near future.
  • Skype for Business is now all desktop apps, thereby providing IM, screen share, talk or video chat right there in the docs. “This same experience will be coming to Office Online later this fall.Skype for Business also has faster screen sharing and now adds the option to start a real-time co-authoring session from any conversation or meeting.”

“By integrating with Office 365, Cortana can proactively help you prepare for an upcoming meeting, Cortana brings you helpful information about the people you’re meeting with, recent documents they’ve worked on, and reminders about when and where you need to be next so you won’t be late.” Microsoft said in a statement.

Why integrate Office 365 & Cortana?

Cortana is here to stay, in fact Microsoft is positioning it to become the uniting thread across platforms, systems and devices within the Microsoft ecosystem, and have even been working on Cortana apps for Android and iOS. When it comes to Office, Cortana integration obviously still in the early stages, but it convinced us that it promises to get even better when connected to Office 365. By integrating with Office 365, Cortana can proactively help you with scheduling and communication for the upcoming meetings bringing helpful information about participants, “recent documents they’ve worked on, and reminders about when and where you need to be next so you won’t be late.”

Info for admins

Acoording to the Microsoft Support page on this topic there are a few things Office 365 Admins need to be aware of before starting to use Cortana in Office 365.

  • If you run into issues, check out these troubleshooting tips.
  • Cortana can only access data in your Office 365 organization when it is enabled. You can turn Cortana off in the Office 365 admin center if you don’t want Cortana to access your organization’s data.
  • To use Cortana, people in your organization must be signed in to Cortana with their work or school account and must authorize Cortana to access Office 365 on their behalf. They can sign in through Cortana’s Notebook.
  • Cortana isn’t a service covered by the Office 365 Trust Center. Learn more about how Cortana treats your data.
  • Check out the mobile device management controls for Windows 10 devices here. Cortana can also access email and calendar data from users through various client apps.

For Windows 10 users

At this moment, the only way to use Cortana in Office 365 scenarios is to setup the universal mail and calendar apps that come with the Windows 10 installation and you do not particularly need a version of Office to test these functionalities, however as Cortana rolls out in new markets and the Office 365 continues to gain traction with business, the announced Cortana support with the Outlook desktop app is just the first step towards what we are convinced can become a personal assistant for every employee.

The State Of Private Cloud Among Enterprise Clients in 2015

Posted on Sep 04, 2015


Business managers and C-suite executive around the globe are coming under peer and competitive pressure to start saying yes to the proposition of private cloud deployments. Within large enterprises the burden of providing a cloud solution to the new world of a mobile first workforce, usually falls primarily on IT departments to come up with all the answers. Usually facing limiting deadlines, the IT department often forced to go with the simplest solution in the short term, rather that think strategically.

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How to Choose the Right Cloud Solution for Your IT Security Needs

Posted on Jul 23, 2015

Concept image of a lost and confused signpost against a blue cloudy sky.

As more and more tech vendors are offering an expanded menu of solutions and services in the cloud, the challenge facing businesses to choose the right vendors and cloud offerings has never been greater. The ascent of cloud computing as a mainstream business technology has been going on for a while now, and companies are finally realizing that probably the most important benefit for them is the fact that they can now concentrate on the business at hand instead of spending vast amounts of resources on in-house IT infrastructure and management.

In fact, by substituting on-premise IT for a cloud solution, businesses can achieve reduced costs, improved flexibility and almost instant scalability, all while making it easier for employees to access key company information and collaborate online remotely.

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Enabling End-to-End Data Loss Prevention with OneDrive for Business

Posted on Jul 07, 2015

Working with files offline, applying changes and ensuring that those changes are synced wherever your workforce operates are fundamental aspects of file management across multiple devices enabled by OneDrive for business.
In order to balance the advantages of being able to sync work files with the risks of data leakage on private devices, businesses and organizations need to make sure that users are only able to sync files to managed- or domain-joined PC’s. Earlier in May, Microsoft finally announced this capability for OneDrive for Business admins. Read more »

Windows 10: What Does It Mean For Your Business

Posted on May 20, 2015


On June 1, Microsoft announced that what is to be be the last version of its flagship OS, aka Windows 10 is coming on July 29 to a PC near you. The messenger of choice for this announcement, couldn’t have been more appropriate as it was Cortana, “the world’s most personal digital assistant”, with is freakishly natural sounding voice that took the center stage: Read more »