Category Archives: Windows

Google Apps vs. Office 365

When it comes to getting work done, everyone has a preferred set of applications for things like email, word processing and spreadsheets. In terms of popularity, the two most preferred suites are Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365. While both platforms are similar in the tools they offer, it’s the capabilities of each platform that makes them more ideal than the other for personal, business, or educational environments.

Because this has become the subject of so much debate over the past few years, we’ll compare the platforms here:

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Even though Office 365 has been around much longer than Google Apps, a number of large companies have already switched to the latter. It really depends on the business.

Google Apps is simpler than Office 365 in almost every respect — from having a simpler pricing structure to offering fewer features. The cost of using both at an entry level is about the same, but things get a little more complicated when you want to upgrade. Microsoft offers six different plans that the user has to go through and decide between, while Google only has two. Plus, Microsoft only offers Office 365 as a yearly subscription, whereas Google Apps is has a month-to-month option.

Google Apps was born in the cloud. Microsoft is showing up to the game a bit later. Because of this, many of the web-based productivity tools offered by Google are more robust than the corresponding Office 365 tools. In addition, Google Apps has a better track record when it comes to uptime. At launch, Office 365 was plagued with outages that kept many businesses holding off adoption until it stabilized. It’s gotten better, but as of February 2013, Office 365 users experienced 113 minutes of downtime for every 1 minute of downtime for Google Apps users.

Depending on one’s perspective, the Office 365’s extra features can seem either like an asset or a drawback. For companies that don’t need much from their applications, having fewer features can make Google Apps easier to learn and use effectively.

Generally speaking, Google tools will integrate more effectively with Apple google-485611__180tools. Microsoft solutions do not always integrate well with Apple operating systems. Due to this, a company might make the email hosting decision based on the type of computers already in use at the business. Apple shops should strongly consider Google Apps for Work. Microsoft-based offices can go either way, but if wanting to have those productivity tools function seamlessly in the desktop environment, then Office 365 will be the better choice.

That said, many prefer Office 365 in the workplace because they are accustomed to using one of the applications within it more than the others, such as Microsoft Word over Google Documents. While Gmail is largely preferred to Microsoft Outlook, Outlook has been around far longer, and many companies have been working with it for years — why switch now?

Most organizations stick with the Microsoft productivity suite because of familiarity. Learning new systems takes time and costs money. That being said, studies have shows that organizations see significant productivity gains by moving over to the Google Apps for Work suite. While it might not be as dramatic a change as the move from fax to email, it’s pretty close.

One thing’s for sure, though: If you’re looking to integrate the both in your business, you’ll have a tough time. They aren’t compatible, and if you try to copy and paste information from one platform to the other you will likely run into a problem. An example would be while attempting to transfer Excel formulas to Google spreadsheets.

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In working with applications for education, both teachers and students need a suite that enables easy collaboration, offers a lot of storage, and supports learning programs. Both Office 365 and Google Apps for Education offer the usual applications that are necessary for basic office functions and can be used anytime, anywhere, and from any device. The two also supply users with a great deal of storage, but the storage for Google Apps for Education is unlimited.

So then it all boils down to the learning programs, a contest that Google seems to have won with Google Classroom. Google Classroom serves as a virtual learning environment that allows teachers to assign work, grade students, add files and upload media, and keep track of progress. At the same time, students are working within it, they can upload documents from their computers or Google Drive, and collaborate with their classmates on assignments.

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In terms of having an office suite for your own use, it’s all about personal preference, more than anything else. Some people have grown up using Office applications, while others began using Gmail long ago and gradually moved onto using Google’s other applications from there.

Because not much is generally needed from an office suite, when used on a personal level, individuals often juggle whichever platforms are more convenient to use, often using more than one — sometimes using alternatives to Microsoft and Google applications. For instance, a Mac user may prefer Gmail for communicating with friends, Pages for word processing, and Excel for accounting.

It’s worth it to keep an eye on both Office 365 and Google Apps for any or all of your needs. Both companies are constantly working to improve their platforms and make them more user-friendly. The rule of thumb, however, seems to be that Google Apps is simple, while Office 365 is more complex.

 

Moving On From Windows XP

If you haven’t already, you should seriously consider making the move away from Windows XP because in case you haven’t heard: Microsoft has stopped providing support for the operating system. Not only does this make your business’s computers much more vulnerable to viruses and spyware, but the lack of support automatically puts you behind the curve in both the personal and professional business setting.

We’ve done some internal and external research on the importance of moving away from Windows XP Here are a few tips we’ve compiled.

Before you make the switch:

  1. Download the final XP update that was issued on April 8th 2014.
  2. Make sure your anit-virus and anti-malware are up to date.
    • Microsoft has agreed to provide anti-malware updates to Microsoft Security Essentials for Windows XP until 2015.
    • You might have to uninstall and reinstall your current software to ensure that you have the latest version.
    • iSU recommends using one or more of the following programs: Kapersky, WebRoot, Avast! or AVG. Read more about our recommendations here.
  3. Use a secure and updated internet browser. We recommend Firefox or Chrome, especially since they are supporting Windows XP until 2015.

Making the Switch:

  1. windows XP RIPChoose a new operating system. And along with that, make sure your machine is new enough to support a secure and efficient OS. If not, you might want to consider upgrading your entire machine…and that’s a whole different ball game we won’t get into right now.
  2. Back-Up Your Data: It should go without saying that you should be doing this on a regular basis but at this time backing up your data is probably the most important step in the entire process.
  3. Migrate and Begin the Upgrade: there are several ways to go about doing this:
    • With plenty of DIY programs out there to choose from, migrating the data yourself is pretty easy to do. Some of the available options are: PC Mover Express, XP Migration with HP and Windows Migration Assistant
    • Microsoft has kindly provided a tutorial online for anyone looking to upgrade to Windows 7.
    • If you don’t feel comfortable taking this task on alone, another option is to switch to OSX by taking your Mac into the Genius Bar and having them help you out.

We know making a tech upgrade like this can be pretty scary unless you are savvy with these kinds of things but we cannot stress enough how important it is to adapt and change as technology does. Resisting these changes can put you and your business at a huge risk to hackers. Windows XP is now the most targeted operating system out there yet it’s still commonly used everywhere – every hacker knows this.

For more information on the demise of Windows XP and how to stay ahead of the game, check out these articles:

Why You Should Ditch Windows XP Now

Windows XP Isn’t Safe to Use Anymore

Crew Close-Up: Ross Baldwin

Screen Shot 2013-05-29 at 1.06.24 PMAs a loyal Coloradan, Ross Baldwin is devoted to everything Boulder and the surrounding areas have to offer. Whether he is making an off-site visit to one of our many Business IT clients or enjoying the weather in the mountains or using his tech-y skills to work on his car, Ross is constantly on the move. He is a people person, always ready to chat with a smile and knack for rapid problem solving.

iSU and Career Thus Far

Describe your responsibilities here at iSU? I am the network and server tech along with Stanley. We do business IT services and we handle everything from phones to desktops to servers to applications. Pretty much everything PCs and Macs, as well as complicated network setups.

Why did you choose to work at iSU? I was working a lot of hours in Denver and didn’t like the commute working a lot of overtime hours that I didn’t feel were appreciated.  I was looking for a different job and liked the vibe here at iSU. I like everybody who works here and the working environment. I also really enjoy working in Boulder and that I can get here in ten minutes.

How would you describe the culture of iSU? I feel like we are professional but laid back. It’s a self motivated kind of place because no one is going to hold your hand and make you work.

What has surprised you most about working with iSU? We have a store front. I’ve had jobs like this for a long time and I’ve never worked at a business that had a storefront and that also did this many different things. Usually these business are more isolated to just business IT services. They don’t have computer repair and they also don’t have web development. I think that we roll all of those fields together and do a pretty workable business model which I thought was unique.

Tell me about your career prior to coming to iSU? The first actual tech job I had was at Jefferson County School District. I got that right out of college I was doing what I do now, server network and desktop technician. I was more of a network job. I was responsible for about 25 schools so thousands of computers. I spent about half my time driving. Then I went back to school and almost finished a computer science degree but ended up getting another job working at Live Consulting down in Denver, doing the same thing. Then I left to come work at iSupportU.

Beyond the Office

What is the best thing about Boulder? I really like the city itself. Pretty neat and clean. That means a lot to me. I like the natural beauty of it that the philosophy that everybody here in Boulder seems to share.

ar11837493349857When you are not at work, where can we find you? Definitely either working on my house or skiing. I go up to Summit County almost every weekend. We have a condo up there so we go up there all the time in Keystone. During the summer I do the sailboat racing in Lake Dillon.

How would your fellow coworkers describe working with you?  Well, this job position is fairly independent so I’m not normally working with other people when I’m off-site. But probably motivated and good with clients and enjoyable to be around.

What three things do you always have in your refrigerator? Milk, coffee in the freezer, yogurt.

Describe your perfect meal. Well my favorite kind of food is definitely Mexican food and green chile so probably a big plate of homemade green chile with some tortillas and rice and beans.

What is the most recent concert you’ve been to? Phish with my friend John at Dicks Sporting Goods Arena and it was hilarious because it was all people in their 30s or older who used to party really hard but are professionals now. I was a lot tamer than I thought it was going to be because I had always heard stories about the crazy Phish concerts at Red Rocks. So it was surprisingly really calm.

Any embarrassing bad habits you’d like to share? I chew my nails. I really try not to do it but I still do it sometimes. I’ll be working on a computer and find myself doing it.

In A Nutshell

What is the most challenging aspect of your job? Producing something when somebody is watching you. And producing something on the spot in a small time frame when you have never done it before. Most of this job is walking into situations when you have no idea what’s going on and you probably have never seen it before. That is why this job is tough. You have to be able to solve problems yourself and be able to figure out what the problem is, research it, and solve it all by yourself.

What is the most fun aspect of your job? I really like going to new places and meeting new clients in new environments. So i don’t get bored with what I’m doing. If I sat in the same desk every day I would probably get bored.

Sum up working at iSU in 3 words. I love Boulder.