News From Microsoft: Better Integration

Recent news from Microsoft will be impacting business around the globe shortly, with changes to their communications platforms, planned integrations, and new tools offered at no cost.

✅ Better Integration Coming for Teams, Outlook, and Dynamics 365  

Microsoft announced last week that it plans to extend collaboration capabilities across some of their most popular solutions.

Think about the time spent between the moment you open an email or chat, find, and reply with the requested information, and then get back into the flow of your work. Add up those minutes-long interruptions, and you begin to realize why we often can’t finish everything on our to-do lists.

Brenda Bown, General Manager, Microsoft Business Applications

To maximize efficiency, they’re planning several integration updates to Teams, Outlook and Dynamics 365. Their planned integrations between MS Dynamics 365 and Teams will allow users to use the full convenience of Teams (meet, call, chat, etc.) within the Dynamics workspace. The convenience of having Outlook, Teams and Dynamics talk to one another is something we know many business users will appreciate.

What does this mean for your business?

If your business uses Dynamics 365, you’ll be happy to see an improved flow between the different components, as well as communication capabilities with Teams and Outlook. If you’re curious about any of the business applications available in the Dynamics 365 portfolio, contact us to learn more and see if this is something that could benefit your business. Our licensing experts will provide options and help you weigh the pros and cons of the different applications.

✅ New Version of Office Won’t Require a Microsoft 365 Subscription

Business owners have spoken, and Microsoft is listening. They recently announced the release of their newest product – Microsoft Office Long Term Servicing Channel (LSTC). This product aims to fill the prevalent need for a Microsoft Office solution that isn’t tethered to the cloud.

We have built Office LTSC for a limited set of specific situations: regulated devices that cannot accept feature updates for years at a time, process control devices on the manufacturing floor that are not connected to the internet, and specialty systems that must stay locked in time and require a long-term servicing channel.

Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft 365

Many businesses have opted not to migrate to the cloud – whether by choice or by necessity – and Microsoft’s shift to the cloud had left them with few options. The new version of Office does not require an Office 365 subscription, and can be used on systems that stay offline for long periods of time. It will be governed by the Fixed Lifecycle Policy, and be supported for 5 years after release. Not surprisingly, there will be limitations to the LSTC version of office compared with the app offerings included in the Office 365 subscription.

A commercial preview is coming in April. Want to know how to deploy this new solution in your business? Let’s talk!

What does this mean for your business?

Does your business have systems that operate offline? This option may prove beneficial for certain cases, as it provides a viable, secure version of this application specifically designed for such situations. Not sure if this applies to you? Give us a call and we’ll be happy to talk through it.

✅ Microsoft’s Robotic Process Automation Tool Now Free for Windows 10 Users

Power Automate Desktop, an enterprise-level automation tool, is now free for Windows 10 users and available for download. Until now, this tool would have cost at least $15 a month for each per-user license. Microsoft originally launched what they called their “attended Robotic Process Automation” solution in September of 2020. It allows users to create workflows and save time by automating repetitive tasks. Power Automate includes 370 prebuilt actions to help you get started – and these include workflows across different applications. It also lets you build your own scripts, for the more advanced users.

What does this mean for your business?

Most of us have daily work tasks that are repetitive, time-consuming, but still important. This automation tool allows people to set some of those tasks on ‘auto-pilot’ with an easy-to-use interface that simplifies the process even if you have no scripting experience. Curious? Click here to watch an overview and learn more.

✅ Reminder: Skype for Business Online Retires July 31, 2021

Microsoft originally announced in July of 2020 that it will be retiring its Skype for Business online service effective July 31, 2021. If your company is using Skype for Business, you will no longer have access to the service after its retirement date. Microsoft Teams is effectively replacing this service, so you will be able to use Teams under the same licensing agreement.

Prepare your business for this change, if you haven’t already, by making plans to upgrade to Teams. Microsoft provides several transition resources, to include an upgrade framework.

Our special projects engineers have already helped many clients successfully transition to Microsoft Teams. We can do the same for you!

What does this mean for your business?

If your company is one of the many that use Skype for Business as a communication tool for your staff, the time to plan for the transition is now. Give us a call  or send us a note to learn what your options are.

From licensing to migration planning (and everything in between), we are here for you! Our team of talented technicians are experts at maneuvering the Microsoft Office 365 licensing landscape and will make sure your business is given the tools it needs to communicate effectively!

Call us at 937-490-5600 or Contact Us to learn more.

News From Microsoft: Email Storage Capped, Teams Replacing Skype, and More!

Recent news from Microsoft will be impacting business around the globe shortly, with changes to their communications platforms and new charges for using previously free services.  Both are aimed at streamlining Microsoft products and eliminating redundant service offerings.

✅ Microsoft is charging Hotmail and Outlook users to keep their old emails.

Hotmail and Outlook users have reported receiving notices that they are nearing their storage limit. Microsoft offers 15 GB of free storage for Hotmail.com and Outlook.com users. Account owners must either stay under the 15 GB or pay for an Office 365 subscription which provides 50 GB of storage.

What does this mean for your business?

If you use Hotmail.com or Outlook.com email for business purposes, you may want to consider the storage quota of 15 GB for long-term scalability. Many businesses are required to retain data for a certain period of time, including email communication, for several reasons (legal, financial, HR, etc.) Consider moving to Office 365 if your data needs exceed the 15 GB that Microsoft provides for free. Not sure if this applies to you? We can help.

✅ Microsoft Teams will replace Skype for Business in just five months.

As of July 31, 2021, Microsoft’s Skype for Business Online will no longer be accessible. Microsoft issued a reminder that companies begin to migrate immediately if they haven’t started the process yet. This change was originally announced in July of 2019, and many businesses impacted by COVID have put this on the back burner. Microsoft has not announced plans to extend the deadline.

What does this mean for your business?

If your business is currently using Skype for Business Online, the time to plan your Teams migration is now. Waiting until the last minute could seriously impact your team’s online communication capabilities. The amount of business being conducted online is now at an all-time high, and will continue to increase. Stay ahead of the curve and let us build a migration plan that works for you. 

We are here to help! From licensing to migration planning (and everything in between), we are here for you! Our team of talented technicians are experts at maneuvering the Microsoft Office 365 licensing landscape and will make sure your business is given the tools it needs to communicate effectively!

Call us at 937-490-5600 or Contact Us to learn more or get started.

End of the Road for Microsoft Server 2008 and 2008 R2 Support

Moving information to “the cloud” might be the popular thing to do right now, but surveys show that 98% of companies still rely on physical, on-site servers. If you’re in that 98% of businesses, there’s a good chance you have at least one Microsoft 2008 or 2008 R2 server. Microsoft has been pushing their Azure cloud platform since announcing the end-of-life date for these two servers effective January of 2020. But what if moving to the cloud isn’t the right move for your business technology?

As a small business, we’ve been down this road before. Dealing with big one-time expenses is never easy, but it can be more palatable with careful planning and a good team by your side. Our team of project engineers can help you find the best way forward for your business. Is there hardware you can continue using? How many systems are “must-upgrade” and how many are “should-upgrade”? What is a realistic time lime for your business? We can help find the answers to these questions.

Microsoft is by far the most popular OS, so you can be sure that hackers are constantly working on malware to release after each end-of-support deadline passes. With crucial security updates for these servers no longer released as of January 2020, not making plans to upgrade your business technology could have potentially disastrous results. Contact us or give us a call at 937-490-5600 and let’s figure out the right solution for your business.

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