STOCK IT – Local Businesses Support the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

Argus - April 2017

Sponsoring the Regional Final; Rob Stock of STOCK IT, Kara Williams of Ellis, Lloyd Jones Chartered Accountants and Victoria Morris representing the Dragons of Newport Business Networking.

Local businesses have been keen to show their support for the next generation of entrepreneurs by sponsoring the Newport and Monmouthshire regional final for Young Enterprise Wales’ flagship competitions taking place on Thursday, April 27, at the Newport City campus of the University of South Wales.

Students from six schools from across the region have over the past 12 months formed their own registered companies to sell and provide their own products and services under the guidance of an assigned Young Enterprise business adviser and their teachers.

The finalists for both the Company Programme and Team Programme competitions will be submitting their company reports, designing and exhibiting a trade stand, making a presentation to the judges and other guests at the final as well as participating in a Q&A session before the winners are announced.

There are eight categories in total which are being sponsored by local businesses.

Newport-based Ellis, Lloyd Jones Chartered Accountants is the overall award sponsor, with Centurion VAT, Dragons of Newport Networking, STOCK IT, Luminous Media, South Wales Chamber of Commerce and Newport Uskmouth Rotary Club sponsoring some of the categories.

Read more….Argus April 2017

Windows 10 One Year Later: The Anniversary Update 2nd August 2016

windows-10-update-anniversary

Windows 10 one year later: The Anniversary Update reviewed 2nd August 2016

Taking a closer look at Windows 10’s first major annual update.

The Anniversary Update, Windows 10 version 1607 (16 for 2016, 07 for July, when it was finalized) is the first “major” update to Windows 10 since its release. While the November Update added refinements, the Anniversary Update adds entirely new features. Important and oft-neglected parts of the core operating system have received attention, and valuable new capabilities have been added for developers.

This is the first release driven by substantial feedback from Microsoft’s “Insider” preview program. The company has released some 25 preview versions of the Anniversary Update, and the company says it has made more than 5,000 “enhancements” as a result of Insider feedback. “Enhancement” is undefined, and with a number that high almost all of the “enhancements” are likely to be the most minor of bug fixes. The company does point at some larger features that it says it owes to insiders: the work done to the Start menu, Action Center, and Taskbar was all shaped by Insider feedback. Insider responses also caused Microsoft to reject a new and really rather ugly Explorer icon.

In making these claims about the Insider program, Microsoft is deliberately creating more distance between the way Windows 10 is being developed and way Windows 8 was developed. Windows 8 generated complaints for the duration of its beta period; its approach to handling the different input modes that it supported (touch, mouse, pen) was too jarring and disjointed, and elements of its interface, in particular the way certain features were activated by putting the mouse cursor in the corner of the screen, were far too obscure and awkward to use.

Source: arstechnica.co.uk – 1st August 2016

Read more….

Contact STOCK IT to learn more – Contact us today to discuss your options…

Kingsmark Properties

kmpheading

A new website collaboration with Pulse Web Design for Kingsmark Property Agents in Chepstow. Many thanks for Matt and Tracey for giving us the opportunity to redesign your current website. A CMS website which is mobile responsive and modern

Kingsmark Properties is owned by local lady Tracy Wilcox, who has over 18 years extensive experience in selling & renting homes within Chepstow and surrounding areas in South Monmouthshire.

Website – Click here

New Year…New Stress Free IT Plans & Office 365

STOCK IT Maintenance

STOCK IT can help with the IT stress of running your business by providing IT Maintenance Plans tailored to your business structure. Everything from Internet issues, network failure, software and hardware problems to running and maintaining website \ email systems and backups procedures.

Reduce Server hardware expenditure + Improve Data Accessibility

We are now migrating many of our business customers over to the new Office 365 Business platform. Enabling customers to see the business benefits of having data at their fingertips in and outside of the office. Also helping clients to reduce their dependency of running their own Server and saving expenditure on in-house hardware

If you are interested in our IT Maintenance Plans or looking to migrate to Office 365 Business Exchange, please feel free to contact us today…click here

Dragons of Newport

Don-Logomark-v1-1imgID49511707More than 100 local businesses attended the final Big Breakfast organised by The Dragons of Newport Business Networking Club last week at Rodney Parade. Visitors were inspired by an insightful presentation by the students who formed The Corporate Mug Duffryn High School’s Young Enterprise company, and a Jobs Growth Wales talk from Acorn Training & Learning.

Pictured Rob Stock – STOCK IT Ltd & Glenn Perry – ECommercial Cleaning Ltd

Source: South Wales Argus – click here

WINDOWS 10 … 29th July

windows-10

Update: It’s official: Windows 10 is coming on July 29 as a free upgrade to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users (for one year). Microsoft’s latest OS will be available to pre-order in the coming weeks when it launches in 190 different markets around the world.

With Windows 8 and today Windows 8.1, Microsoft tried – not entirely successfully – to deliver an operating system (OS) that could handle the needs of not only number-crunching workstations and high-end gaming rigs, but touch-controlled systems from all-in-one PCs for the family and thin-and-light notebooks down to slender tablets.

When Microsoft pulled the curtain back on Windows 10 back in September of 2014, it was clear that, with an operating system optimized for PCs, tablets and phones in unique ways, the Redmond, Wash.-based firm was onto something. Skipping the Windows 9 name entirely, Microsoft issued a public preview of the shiny new OS later that autumn, known as Windows Technical Preview (WTP).

You can try it out for yourself through Microsoft’s Windows Insider Program (nearly 4 million have, as of May 2015). You’ll need a Microsoft account to get it, and it’s worth bearing in mind that it’s not the finished product, so it will be a bit rough around the edges.

Since its September 2014 reveal, Microsoft held a consumer-facing preview of the upcoming OS in January 2015, and shelled out even more details during its Build 2015 conference back in April. As the months have passed through those milestones, new features rolled in with each Windows 10 preview build update. And now, with a release date announced, the OS is mighty close to completion.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? A complete update for Windows
  • When is it out? July 29
  • What will it cost? For Windows 7 and 8.1 users, it will be free for one year
Windows 10

When is the Windows 10 release date?

Microsoft slated Windows 10 for a summer launch, and the company has stuck to its word. Following several leaks (and one giant snafu from US retailer NewEgg which published an inccorect launch date), it has now been confirmed that Windows 10 will launch on July 29.

That said, it’s unlikely that Windows 10 will release for all device types on this date. Judging from comments made by Microsoft Corporate VP of Operating Systems Joe Belfiore, the company has planned a phased approach to the launch. Windows 10 will release for desktop and laptop devices first, then trickle down to phones, the Xbox One, Arduino machines and its own HoloLens.

Windows 10

How much will Windows 10 cost?
For Windows 7 and 8.1 users, Windows 10 will be free for one year. After that period – not to mention for standalone copies of the OS – the asking price starts at £79.99.

Microsoft’s Executive Vice President of Operating Systems Terry Myerson announced in January that Windows 10 will be free for existing Windows 7 and 8.1 users for its first year. Microsoft also confirmed a while ago that the two most recent Windows versions will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 directly.

The company promises that it will support those who scored a free upgrade to Windows 10 with security and system updates for the lifetime of those Windows devices.

Neowin reported back in February that Microsoft has trademarked the term “Windows 365,” supposedly with the intent of it being a service. The news and speculation has sent folks buzzing about the possibility of a subscription-based Windows to come, though that’s not likely to be Windows 10. Oh, we hope not.

Windows 10

How will I get to download Windows 10?

Confirming the rumors and leaks leading up, Microsoft has already started the upgrade process for current Windows 7 and Windows 8 users. If your machine is up to date today, you will soon see a small icon of the Windows logo on your task bar next to the internet status icon.

Clicking it will open a window that details the upgrade process and will allow you to “reserve” your free Windows 10 download by providing your email address. Presumably on or in advance of launch day, Microsoft will download the OS to your device and notify you when it’s ready to install.

What follows that prompt are a few bits of info to tease the new release and get users excited. It’s that easy.

Seven shades of Windows 10

Windows 10 will be available in 7 versions, far more than one would have expected in the first place. While IoT, Mobile, Home, Enterprise and Professional were already confirmed, Mobile Enterprise and Education were unexpected. In comparison, there were only four versions of Windows 8.1 (five if you include Windows Phone 8) and one of them was Windows RT.

Microsoft clarified the free upgrade offer for Windows 10, adding that Windows 10 Home and Pro will be available for free to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users that have appropriate licenses (presumably, Windows 8.1 Home users will only be able to upgrade to Windows 10 Home).

Windows 10

The latest WTP build available for all testers is build #10074, released during Build 2015. The update builds on what was released in the last stable build, namely streamlining the Virtual Desktop experience and giving the Photos app some much-needed functionality.

For the more experienced or foolhardy users in Microsoft’s “Fast” ring, they’re already up to preview build #10122. The new build is not as stable as the “Slow” ring’s aforementioned latest release, but introduces new features like the New Tab feature in Microsoft Edge that the company showed off during its Build 2015 show. However, these builds are always less stable than the more tested “Slow” releases.

But back to build #10074, this version brings the debut of the resizable Start menu from “Fast” ring build #10056, not to mention the first look at Microsoft’s new Mail and Calendar apps in a stable environment. Most importantly, this version gives users their first look at Microsoft Edge, the company’s new default browser for Windows 10. The release also includes the translucent, resizable Start menu as well as deeper Cortana functionality and Live Tiles on the Start menu.

What Microsoft hasn’t seemed to address yet is how folks who installed Windows 10 outright on a machine will be able to “upgrade” to the final version once it launches this summer.

Further updates are in the works (already)

Before Windows 10 has even launched, Microsoft’s upgrade plans for the OS have leaked. Operating under the codename “Redstone”, the Windows maker will issue updates in two waves.

According to Neowin’s report, the first will come June 2016 and the other October of next year. But don’t expect huge, sprawling changes from these updates – they’re likely to be tweaks to the new OS for specific types of hardware and other improvements

Article by Tech Radar –

Contact STOCK IT to learn more – Contact us today to discuss your options…

End of Windows Server 2003

Windows-Small-Business-Server-2003

 

It’s the end of life as we know it for Windows Server 2003

Can you survive without support?
Windows Server 2003 will pass out of Microsoft support on July 14, 2015. Different organisations report different numbers, but all agree that there are millions of Server 2003 servers still running in the wild.

Microsoft says there are 11 million Server 2003 servers still running. Gartner says eight million. Several internet searches bring up various other numbers, but I think it is safe to say somewhere between five and 15 million Server 2003 servers are still out there.

My hunch is that Gartner is under-estimating here. The analyst focuses on enterprises and on the whole wouldn’t care if small businesses were all to get flushed into the sun. A Spiceworks poll of workplaces reports that 57 per cent of respondents have at least one Server 2003 instance still running.

One study looking at un-migrated numbers specific to the UK finds 400,000 units yet to receive TLC there. I have as yet been unable to find numbers for my own country, Canada, but my straw polls say it will be a lot more than people think.

Another poll from late last year says one fifth of businesses will miss the mark.

Among my own client base there are probably 40 or so units left in the wild, and only about 20 of those can be migrated. Once upon a time Server 2003 was the last gasp for applications that should have been ported when Windows NT met its maker. Now, years later, the time has come again for some of my clients, and despite repeated warnings they are not ready.

There are a number of reasons why people don’t want to migrate: familiarity with the older operating system; money; and in many cases the complexity of the workloads running on those Server 2003 instances.

Many of those servers probably have not had much attention paid to them in years aside from periodic patching. Administrators responsible for the workloads running on them may well have moved on, and their replacements may be theoretically aware of how to migrate data and settings but have have never had the time to practice doing it.

Tales of the unexpected

Of course, if you don’t migrate you have two options: choose to run your operating system without security patches, or cough up for emergency support.

The cost of support for Server 2003 will be higher than it was for dragging instances of XP past their due date. Think £600+ per server for the first year, and rising for every year after that, though you an probably bank a discount if you are a big customer.

Weird things can happen during migrations. Take this domain controller bug. Even if things are mostly straightforward, there is really no substitute for experience.

Over the past several years many sysadmins have done Server 2003 migrations. Unfortunately, there are not that many of us who can legitimately say we have done hundreds or even thousands of them. This has led to fear in the channel that one of the things holding migrations back is simply a lack of systems administrators with the skills and experience to do the job.

Fortunately the internet is full of practical guides to migration, so if you end up having to do this on your own you won’t be left out in the cold.

To July and beyond

Microsoft’s official Support Lifecycle Policy FAQ is here. If you need to talk to Microsoft about extending support past the Server 2003 deadline, that’s the place to start.

When planning your migration away from Server 2003 it is worth bearing in mind the end of support dates for its successor operating systems.

Windows Server 2003 in most flavours meets its end on July 14, 2015. Windows Server 2008 support ends January 14, 2020, while Windows Server 2012 support ends January 10, 2023.

Windows Server 2016 is coming out soon, presumably in 2016. It will come with a new nano version. For some it is rather frustrating to have this new version coming out next year and yet have Windows Server 2003 expiring this year. So close, and yet so far.

For those who want to hop on Server 2016 as soon as it lands, Microsoft has Software Assurance as an option. Pay more, buy into the whole subscription concept for licensing and get access to upgrades as soon as they appear.

Bad vibrations

What everyone needs to remember is that Server 2003 doesn’t suddenly stop working when support expires. It will continue doing its thing – but there will be an increased risk of security incidents past that date.

Every bad guy who has been sitting on hidden vulnerabilities is going to pull them out and go to town. Unlike Windows XP Server 2003 won’t cling around, zombie-like, at high numbers for years.

Companies will upgrade their servers. Those that don’t will lock them down behind so many defences that nobody outside those organisations will ever know that a Server 2003 unit exists.

Right after support ends there will be a surge of attack attempts, malware and other trouble. This will last only so long and then it will simply taper off as the bad guys move on to more lucrative targets.

But let’s not get too doom-laden. Contrary to what you will be told by those with a vested interest in selling you new severs, it is entirely possible to defend an out-of-support operating system.
There is no path by which you save money by not upgrading your Server 2003 box and yet remain secure

What you need to know before you even consider trying to do so is that if you do it properly you will spend a heck of a lot more defending the operating system than you would on the cost of a new licence.

There is no path by which you save money by not upgrading your Server 2003 box and yet remain secure. If you think you can defend such a box with free tools you are deluding yourself and anyone who listens to you.

Of course, the other thing to consider is that in many cases the cost of migration is more than simply the cost of a new server and new operating system licence. Where the workload in question is on the complex side, administrators probably don’t know how to migrate it or as migrations delve deep into the inner workings of Windows additional costs will appear.

These can be as simple as the cost of calling the application developer’s support line and paying it to help you migrate. It can also evolve into multi-vendor support fiascos that can really run the meter, or require bringing in outside consultants charging some quite exorbitant fees.

Most migrations away from Server 2003 will be easy. Some will be hard. A few simply won’t be possible at all.

Cry for help

If you are a small business needing help migrating away from Server 2003 IT network Spiceworks is perhaps the best place to find a local service provider. It has a list which will help you to find a provider operating in your area – one that charges you rates you can afford.

It is a place to start, but it covers anyone who chooses to list themselves as a service provider and there is no vetting of any kind. But although that may sound like a dire warning, there are great companies to be found on the Spiceworks IT providers list.

I strongly recommend cross checking these companies against the Microsoft partner list. This will give you a decent idea of how much a company is committed to the Microsoft ecosystem. A search on Spiceworks will also give you a good idea of the competence (and personality traits) of the people who work there.

My local managed provider of choice, Optrics, is on both lists. And no, this is not just a plug for my mates; these folks have certainly done well by me, but even skilled and experienced systems administrators need help from time to time.

There are plenty of aspects of IT that I don’t have the experience to handle, or the time to learn. None of us can do it all, and none of us should be afraid to seek help if we feel our Server 2003 migrations involve a little more than we can handle.

Larger companies are not likely to find what they need in the Spiceworks or Microsoft partner lists. The bigger you get the more you need to start engaging name brand managed providers.

Before hitting Google I recommend having a conversation with your application’s developers first. Most problems in migrating away from Server 2003 are related to specific workload incompatibilities. Your application developer may know of a company with experience of handling migrations of its software. If there is such a team out there, go with the pros.

If what you need is help migrating the more in-depth Windows features and coping with esoteric issues, then any old managed IT service provider will not do. What you want is a Microsoft MVP.

July 14 is coming up fast. Will you be ready in time?

Contact us today to discuss your options…

Ecommercial Cleaning Ltd

ecomercial cleaning

STOCK IT Ltd would like to welcome our newest client, Ecommercial Cleaning. We are providing the company with a full IT support package and website build – Click here…

‘ Ecommercial Cleaning is a unique commercial cleaning company that focuses on fair wages and excellent support to its workforce.

Concentrating on one-off builders cleans & end of tenancy cleaning, our aim is to build a trustworthy, eco-friendly and ethical business in the South Wales area.’

The company was founded by Director, Glenn Perry

Website Live in August 2014