Lexicon Systems, LLC Blog

lex'•i•con: the vocabulary of a branch of knowledge. Thoughts on environment, health & safety (EHS), sustainability and information technology to support them.


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Office 2016 for Mac available to Cloud subscribers

Late last week, Microsoft made the long-awaited Office 2016 for Mac available to Office 365 subscribers. The last Mac version was in 2011. Is the new software suite worth the five-year wait?

Microsoft says the software is “unmistakably Office, designed for Mac.”

Microsoft’s July 9 announcement: Office 2016 for Mac is here!

Per Microsoft’s blog post, Office for Mac is now available to Office 365 subscribers (annual subscription fee) , and will be available for stand-alone purchase (one-time license fee) in September.

Simple installation

This afternoon, I installed the software on my MacBook Pro Retina. The installation package

  • includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote,
  • requires less than 2 GB of hard disk space, and
  • takes less than five minutes to install.
Install Office 2016 for Mac from the Microsoft Office 365 portal

Install Office 2016 for Mac from the Microsoft Office 365 portal

The new Office applications integrate with the OneDrive Cloud app. Through Cloud integration, you can start a document or spreadsheet on one device–say your laptop–and then view or edit it on your tablet or smartphone. You can share files and collaborate with others. When you save files to the Cloud, you do not have to worry about which version is the latest.

Decades of experience demand full-featured software

I have used Microsoft Office more than any other office productivity suite. Having used PCs of all shapes and sizes for decades, I have tried a number of office productivity software suites. I started with VisiWord/VisiCalc and Lotus 1-2-3. I graduated to IBM DisplayWrite and WordPerfect. Then I earned my “Master’s” in Microsoft Office. And, most recently, I learned Apple iWork (Pages, Numbers and Keynote) and Apple Mail basics.

I am a recent Mac convert. We Mac users like the clean, simple-to-use hardware, and want full-featured software that provides a great user experience.

I eagerly loaded the Office 2016 for Mac beta onto my MacBook Pro this spring. Its interface was, very Windows-like and familiar. That was good. But the software lacked several features I thought should be standard all users–Windows and Mac. With Macs becoming more and more popular in the business world, it’s time for feature equality.

Microsoft says that they received significant input from Mac users during the Office for Mac redesign.

My MacBook, which rarely crashes, did just that repeatedly with the Office 2016 beta. When my expense report spreadsheet–a simple Excel table–was corrupted by the beta, I could not open it with Excel of any version. I opened it with Apple’s Numbers, and reconverted it to Excel. A major inconvenience with time lost, but I did not lose the data altogether. I had to revert to the Office 2011 for Mac software. Ugh!

First impressions

Will Office 2016 for Mac live up to my expectations as a person who cut my teeth on the Windows versions? Time will tell…

You can read TechRepublic’s first impressions on the new software here and see what’s new here.

microsoft-surface-pro-3

Photo: Microsoft

On 20 May, Microsoft launched its Surface Pro 3 tablet. They call it ” the tablet that can replace your laptop.” The lightweight, Windows 8.x tablet boasts a 12-inch screen. It has a sleek design and long battery life. Prices range from $799 for the 64 GB 4th-Gen Intel i3 model to $1949 for a 512 GB i7 model. Keyboards, adapters, etc. are optional, at extra cost. This price point puts the Surface Pro 3 in the mix with Ultrabooks, MacBooks and lightweight hybrid/convertible notebook computers.

Tech blogs are critical of the new tablet’s foray into the enterprise business market, citing the Windows 8.x operating system, design, user experience and cost as the main detractors. As mentioned in an recent blog post, enterprise IT departments prefer Windows 7 to Windows 8.x, and many saw Windows XP end of support as an opportunity to explore new hardware and operating systems like Google Chrome and Mac OSX.

“eWeek suggested, “buy the MacBook Air instead.”

The jury’s still out. Let’s see if the Surface Pro 3 catches on. You can view the full specs on the Microsoft Web site here and read an eWeek product review here.


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I hope that you have been using Google Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari, or an Internet browser other than Internet Explorer for the last two weeks or so.

Though Microsoft ended support for its popular Windows XP operating system on 08 April 2014, recent security threats spurred the company to issue an emergency security patch on 26 April. The security vulnerability affects users of Internet Explorer versions 6-11 on various Windows operating systems.

Microsoft Internet Explorer 11 Logo

“We have made the decision to issue a security update for Windows XP users,” Dustin Childs, group manager of Microsoft Trustworthy Computing, wrote in a blog post. “Windows XP is no longer supported by Microsoft, and we continue to encourage customers to migrate to a modern operating system, such as Windows 7 or 8.1.” 

Read more…

Logo: Google

In news releases on 28 April, the US and UK governments asked people to stop using Internet Explorer (IE) until its security vulnerabilities were fixed. According to netmarketshare.com, over half of the desktop PC market used IE in one version or another when the “zero day” vulnerability was identified. Many organizations immediately switched from Internet Explorer to Google Chrome.

 


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What’s the best use for an iPad if you’re savvy with a laptop and smartphone?

When you get an iPad, you think, “Hey, I can replace my laptop with this small tablet!” 

Technology stack with overlapping functions

I look at my “technology stack,” and see a Windows 7 PC, a MacBook Pro, an iPad and an iPhone. These devices all help me get through my daily routine, with overlapping capabilities:

  • Read content
  • Read and compose email
  • Read and create documents, spreadsheets and presentations
  • Participate in social networks
  • Attend Web meetings
  • Visit Web sites
  • View photos and graphics.

Depending upon what I want to achieve, these four devices are not totally interchangeable.

I can use my smartphone to create a presentation, but anything but a simple presentation is best created on a laptop or tablet. I can sort through hundreds of emails on my tablet or smartphone, but must use a laptop for powerful sorting and cleanup. Likewise, I can create complex spreadsheets on the tablet, but likely would use my MacBook or PC with a keyboard and full functionality.

Rethinking the tablet

If you’re already quite comfortable with a laptop and a smartphone, and a tablet falls into your hands, what’s the best way to use it? Here’s an interesting perspective on the use of tablets, worth reading: Rethinking the iPad

My take—Tip #1: I DO use the iPad for mail and social apps; Tip #2: I use the iPad to catch up on reading; Tip #3: I turn off MOST notifications; Tip #4: I change SOME of the settings to improve battery life.

Let me hear how you use your tablet!


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New Apple MacBook Air appeals to the mobile business set

In late April Apple beefed up its MacBook Air product line. The lightweight notebook computers now boast faster, 4th generation Intel processors, longer batter life, bigger flash storage, faster and better WiFi and slightly lower price tags. This makes the Air more attractive to on-the-go business travelers who need or prefer a full-fledged computer over a tablet or smartphone.

Apple MacBook Air 2014

Photo: Apple

The new MacBook Air specs go head-to-head with the most powerful Windows laptops. Apple is taking the opportunity to win business users over to its hardware and the OSX operating system.

Why? Here are several issues that left market share up for grabs:

  • Windows XP End of Support
  • heartbleed and security vulnerabilities with Internet Explorer
  • Sarbanes-Oxley compliance concerns
  • increased use of Cloud applications in large organizations
  • Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) and mobile apps.

Read New MacBook Air specs make for better business laptops and visit the Apple Web site here.

Those who need less powerful computing power have a number of other options, from smartphones to “phablets” to tablets and ChromeBooks. For further reading on the risks and benefits of sticking with Windows XP, and the increase in organizational use of non-Windows operating systems, see recent IT Insight columns:


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With Windows XP End of Support, Chromebooks are a popular option to Windows PCs

Now that Windows XP is no longer supported by Microsoft, organizations that still use the 13-year-old operating system (OS) must face reality–at some point, they must upgrade their OS, and likely their computer. When Microsoft released Windows XP to market, more organizations provided desktop than laptop computers. Using a laptop meant sacrificing features and forking over more dollars to gain mobility.

Those who have yet to “sunset” Windows XP no longer need to be tethered to their desks (See: Windows XP Sails into the Sunset… Maybe). A world of technologies became available (and affordable) since 2001, notably:

  • Wireless networks (WiFi) and Mobile hotspots (MiFi)
  • Lightweight notebook computers
  • Smartphones, tablets and apps
  • Social networks, Cloud applications and data storage
  • More power-efficient chips and hours of operation between charges
  • Solid state “flash” drives
Image: hp

Image: hp

Windows XP End of Support lets organizations rethink their IT strategies. Businesses and educational institutions alike can consider alternative Windows , Mac and Google OS and hardware. Chromebooks are a popular option, with their simplicity and low entry cost of $275 to $300 USD.

Read 10 Reasons Today’s Chromebooks Look Like a Smart Mobile PC Buy.

 


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Microsoft Pulls Plug on Windows XP Support

Just last week—08 April 2014—Microsoft stopped supporting the tremendously popular Windows XP operating system. They will provide security updates/patches for another fifteen months, through July 2015.

Loyal XP users need to decide if “I’d rather fight than switch” or “I’d rather switch than fight…” and they need to decide soon, since upgrades in large organizations can take 12-18 months.

pull-the-plug-square

Windows XP Sails into the Sunset… Maybe speaks to the impacts and unintended consequences of the long-announced end of support.

End of support impacts millions of users. Where does that leave the millions of business and consumer users still on that operating system? Will they fight upgrading to Windows 8.1, or switch to an alternative operating system. What challenges will people face when upgrading to a new OS?

End of support has unintended consequences. First, it resulted in a resurgence in Windows 7 laptop sales and Windows 7 OS upgrades. Second, it resulted in the purchase of Windows-alternative hardware and software. End of support gives organizations a reason to evaluate whether they need laptops into the future, or if other technologies (cloud, mobile, and social) are better alternatives.


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Metrics matter in Google vs. Apple market leader competition

Perhaps the greatest tech rivalry of the 20th century was Oracle (Larry Ellison) vs. Microsoft (Bill Gates). Fast forward to 2014, with Google and Apple in hot competition for market leadership. 

200px-Apple_logo_black

Image: Apple

Image: Google

Image: Google

Like Oracle (enterprise database software) and Microsoft (operating system, desktop and server software and PCs), Google and Apple started in different market niches. Today, their two markets overlap.

  • Google’s Android OS and hardware overlap Apple’s OSX and iOS operating systems.
  • Both companies are smartphone and tablet market leaders, with Google Android sales surpassing Apple iOS sales for the first time in late 2013.
  • Together, the two companies offer one million-plus applications through Google Play, iTunes and the Mac Apps Store.
  • Both companies offer “wearable tech.”
  • Google and Apple both grow organically and through acquisition. Notable Google acquisitions include Android, YouTube, Picasa and Motorola Mobility; notable Apple acquisitions include iOS, iWorks, TouchID and Maps software.

So, who wins the competition? It depends upon which metrics you use. I prefer a combination of several. Read Apple vs. Google: The goliath deathmatch by the numbers 2014.


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Windows XP support ending soon

Microsoft stops support for the Windows XP operating system (OS) early in April, and stops support for the associated malware software in July. Despite Microsoft’s warnings to update from Windows XP to Windows 8.1 before “end of support,” many large organizations continue to use the almost 13-year-old computer operating system. It is the most popular OS next to Windows 7. And some companies will switch to Windows 7 rather than Windows 8.x.

windows-xp-computer

Image: Microsoft

Companies can

  1. continue to use Windows XP and later change to another OS;
  2. upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1; or
  3. upgrade to an OS such as Chrome OS, Mac OSX Mavericks or Android.

Windows XP end of support allows an opportunity to evaluate how IT needs have changed in the last 13 years. Organizations can decide which new technologies—hardware, operating systems, mobile, Cloud and Big Data—will work best for them.

The next “IT Insight” column, Windows XP sails into the sunset… maybeappears in em Magazine on April 1. Check back here or on our web site early in April for a link to the column.


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Microsoft rebranded its Cloud service (again)

What’s in a name?

A couple of years ago I started to use the Microsoft #Live Cloud storage solution to collaborate with project team members across the U.S. Then Microsoft Live morphed into Microsoft #SkyDrive and used a nifty cloud logo. Microsoft was sued over copyright infringement and had to change the name. This month, Microsoft changed the name of its cloud service from SkyDrive to #OneDrive. I hope that the auto parts manufacturer with the same name does not take issue with Microsoft.

Microsoft OneDriveOneDrive is a cloud-based collaboration tool. It allows allows users to store and access files from virtually any internet-capable device–smartphone, laptop PC, tablet, ChromeBook, Mac, or desktop. Users can elect which “folders” to share with others. Microsoft Office 365 subscribers get 100 GB of OneDrive storage space free; those without Office 356 can get 7 GB free; subscribers can pay for additional storage space.

Good news, bad news

The bad news: repeated name changes confuse the market. The good news: Microsoft offered extra Gigabytes of free storage space to “legacy” users to compensate them for the inconvenience. And users can earn extra free storage space by referring friends.

View an eWeek slide show about #OneDrive here.