Office 2013

Are you an Office “Power User”? Is most of your working day using either Word or Excel as your main applications? If the answer is “Yes” to either of those then you need to consider upgrading to the latest version: Office 2013.

I’ve had an opportunity to try it out and my initial reaction was “Office 2010 with a new skin”. How wrong I was! Under the hood are some new and handy features that users of all levels will find incredibly handy. Here’s a touch on each of the main three, Excel, Word, and PowerPoint.

  • In Excel 2013, one of the most innovative features I liked is called Flash Fill. It enables you to filter and tidy up a column of data quickly by just putting in a few keywords. Then at the touch of a button Excel does the rest. Very slick, as this used to be the sort of thing that took up a lot of time using macros, formula, or just doing it manually.
  • In Word 2013, PDF editing has been enhanced – now you can import a PDF document into Word, edit it, and re-save it as a PDF. This also keeps the document formatting intact. This is a step up from the previous two Office versions which enabled only PDF saving.
  • PowerPoint 2013 has a presenter view that can leverage a dual screen setup so the speaker to see the full slide and notes, while the audience sees only the slide.

The new feature across all of the Office applications is cloud integration to Office 365 with the aim of providing collaboration across your business, as well as a measure of disaster recovery.

Even though Office 2013 is not officially available yet, if you want to try Office 2013 now, you can. Go to and click “Try” .Don’t worry, it won’t cheese your Office 2010 installation! Microsoft has assured us that it can work side-by-side with Office 2010.

A really awesome feature used for the install is called app streaming. It does not download a huge installer in one hit. Instead, as the applications download and install they are immediately available and you can run it almost immediately and try out these new features. Give it a go! If you are worried about cheesing your machine, then ask one of our team for a demonstration.

In my opinion, Office 2013 is worth a look – many of the new features will make it worthwhile. Ask us about the new subscription licensing model available from Microsoft as there are options that will fit your budget.

Microsoft Surface Tablet

MS-Surface-TabletI was really looking forward to the release of the Surface tablet, as all the team at IT Engine will tell you. And I am not disappointed. I am loving Windows 8 (I have it on my PC at work). Of course, my most used app the Surface is my OneNote, which syncs between both devices making note-taking at meetings a whole lot easier. All my LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter feeds come through the one “tile” so I don’t have to go into different applications to see what everyone is doing. If someone messages me, it pops up in the corner to let me know and I can either go see or ignore… The main window screen is very customisable so I can have my most used apps right where I need them. I can also sort them into sections like my favourite websites and games. You can have many users set up on the one device, so if you want to let the kids have a play on it they can log into their own environment and can’t delete anything important.

If you want to have a look at the Surface, we will be happy to give you a demo. Also if you are interested in Windows 8, but not sure what device will work for you, we can get demonstration models for you to test (play with). With the release of Windows 8 there has been a flurry of new and very slick devices on the market. There is bound to be one that will work for you.

Remember Windows 8 is not just for touch devices as some would have you believe. It is a newer faster Windows 7 with a new start menu. It also has built in antivirus to help lower your costs.

Windows To Go

This great new feature, available in Windows 8 Enterprise, enables you to build a completely manageable corporate desktop environment on a USB key. You can plug this into pretty much any desktop or notebook and boot into a secure Windows 8 desktop in minutes – all running from the USB key.

Hardware requirements are such that any computer that is three or less years old should be able to use this technology. Once up and running, a Windows To Go desktop can securely connect to your business network, just like a notebook.

Why is this so great? Here are a few great reasons:

  1. It enables users to bring your own device (BYOD) but protects your network from potentially unsecure devices – so it’s ideal for contractors. Also Windows To Go also locks out the local hard disk to ensure a secure environment. This makes it a perfect solution for working from home.
  2. You might have an employee who is always on the move from site to site and needs access to a consistent computer environment and applications. With Windows To Go all they have to do is boot the USB key on an available PC and they are in business. Users can travel light without lugging a computer around, taking just the USB key. This could also be used as part of a disaster recovery or business continuity solution.
  3. It’s a portable desktop environment that can be encrypted with BitLocker technology – if the USB key goes missing, or is stolen then you have only lost a USB key – not a whole notebook computer with critical data on it. Files can be saved on it too. But as always we encourage users to save important data to their network drive.
  4. Plug in your USB Key at the office, boot up and work, then shut down, take the key home and plug it in to your home PC and carry on where you left off.

What do you need? Windows To Go requires Windows 8 Enterprise, and a 32GB (minimum) USB key – preferably one that is optimised for Windows to Go.

Give us a call to find out more and discover how Windows To Go could help your mobile workers and your home/office workers. We have a demonstration USB key available.


Is there really that much to tweet about?

Twitter – why tweet? Are you a twit if you don’t?

That said, what about Facebook?

IT Engine has maintained a twitter account for over 18 months. When we moved to our new brand I had a hard rethink on weather I should keep going with the social networking side of things. We are not big users, I might tweet only once or twice a week. What I really like it for is keeping an eye on our industry and who is doing what – lots of geeks tweet.

For the average professional or business, is it worth the time and effort? From experience, I would say no. This comes from talking to all our clients and fellow users. You have to be a certain type of business to get any value out of a social networking marketing initiative. Here is a short but remarkably insightful article called “Facebook. Marketing to an empty room”.

However, if you are the sort of business that has a lot of specials or new products coming in all the time, then Facebook and Twitter can add to your marketing. As an IT professional services organisation, I will keep using them but with the knowledge that these are not really the best marketing tools for my business. Remember most people use Facebook for contact with their friends. I have actually removed my “likes” from company pages if they post too much advertising. It is ok to get one or two but not 10 – 20 in a day from the same company; this just turns Facebook into another way to spam people.

You can post to Twitter as many times a day as you like because that is what it’s designed for, but as a business is there really that much to tweet about? For me and most of our clients, that energy would be better applied to blogs.