SpireTech Blog - Category: Windows
Microsoft Windows updates, features, tips, and tricks
Microsoft has notified partners that they are implementing a new commerce experience starting January 2022. They had also announced in August 2021 that a change with pricing to certain subscription packages was coming in 2022. SpireTech has been tracking these changes as Microsoft has already adjusted some of their terms after announcement in August 2021.
At this time, we can share what we know and how that may affect your existing subscriptions and will keep you updated as we learn more.
What is changing that impacts our clients:
- You can still pay monthly for annual term licenses, but cannot reduce the quantity purchased during that term.
- Microsoft will now enforce subscription terms to all subscriptions
- Microsoft will implement premium pricing for month-to-month terms
- Microsoft is raising the rate on certain subscription options regardless of terms
- Microsoft will implement a pro-rated refund for the first 72 hours of term only
- To date, Microsoft has allowed Partners to provision subscriptions for clients and raise and lower subscriptions counts at their leisure.
This week, Microsoft announced the availability of Windows 11. While it offers some interesting new features, we recommend you wait a bit to let us sort out the bugs first. Our initial testing has revealed a few annoyances that you might want to be aware of before upgrading.
Right now, we can confirm the following:
- We will not be upgrading clients to Windows 11 via our normal system maintenance processes.
- Even though Microsoft may offer it to you via Windows Update, we do not recommend our clients upgrade at this time because it is too new.
- Windows 11 is an upgrade, not an update – and although Microsoft offers the software for free to qualified systems, we reserve the right to charge for work related to these upgrades.
- Microsoft will be staging the rollout, and if their data indicates there may be issues with your hardware, it will not be offered to you.
Microsoft has been working on this for a while, and now it’s generally available. Basically, it’s your desktop in the cloud. Instead of VPN’ing into work, or using remote desktop to control a computer at your office, you can access these resources hosted in Microsoft’s datacenters. This may simplify things for companies moving to a permanent virtual workplace, getting rid of offices, and still using legacy software or systems.
We suspect most of our clients will need the Enterprise version, and adopting this technology will require re-architecting and rethinking some of our legacy ways of computing. Of course, none of this is needed if you are already using cloud-based software or file storage such as Microsoft 365 and SharePoint – but if you have multi-user accounting systems that are on-premise, CAD systems using files off of a server, or other legacy systems – and want to move to a cloud model – this technology can simplify that transition.
Pricing depends on performance requirements – it starts around $50/mo per user for a mid-level system plus implementation and management costs. Read more...
SpireTech does not use any SolarWinds software. However, the longer-term effects of this hack are likely not going to be known for a while – if at all – because SolarWinds was used by many government agencies and larger enterprise companies.
As of this point, we know of no customer-affecting data breaches as a result of this hack. However, with a hack of this magnitude, it is important to consider the larger supply chain – perhaps even your vendor’s vendors. For example, Microsoft makes extensive use of contractors. Microsoft has disclosed they were affected by the SolarWinds hack and there was unauthorized read-only access to their source code repository. No access to customer data has been reported or disclosed as of this writing.
Evolved from Emotet and Trickbot malware, Trickboot has the ability to modify your computer’s firmware – basically, the portion of code that lives in chips in your motherboard – to survive even after a complete wipe and reinstall of your hard drive.
The best defense against this malware is user education – typically, a user is tricked into opening a compromised Word document, usually received via an email attachment or link, and accepting macros. This causes the malware to execute and potentially download other harmful malware to your computer. Be sure that any attachments you receive are legitimate – even attachments from “trusted” senders could be compromised. If in doubt, forward to our helpdesk for advice on how to proceed.
Microsoft is transitioning Internet Explorer 11 to End-of-life status. Internet Explorer became unsupported by Microsoft Teams on Nov 30th, 2020 and it will cease to be supported by Microsoft completely on August 11, 2021. Microsoft has installed tools to redirect users to the new Edge browser.
The new Microsoft Edge is powered by Chromium, the same browser engine that powers Google Chrome – and has vastly superior compatibility with websites when compared to the previous version of Microsoft Edge or Microsoft Internet Explorer.
We recommend anyone still using Microsoft Internet Explorer 11 stop doing so now, and switch to a supported browser – such as the new Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.
Just a quick note to let clients know that if you are still running Windows 7 or 2008 server, we cannot be responsible for the security of your network. The risk of ransomware is real, and we’ve heard many horror stories of companies that have been breached. Being able to apply security updates to your computers is one of the key defenses you have against this risk.
In accordance with our policies, we reserve the right to invoice for technical support of software that does not have vendor support. As a courtesy, we will extend free support for 15 minutes, after which we will request approval to bill for our time. We do not wish to impose hardship, but aged software and hardware does require more time to support than modern software, and we must balance this against the need for security.
With work from home, we’re noticing an increase in the number of machines being shut off when we are trying to install updates. Please remember to log off and leave your computers turned on and connected to power when we prompt you for updates.
Thank you for your cooperation.
As a reminder to what we advised last month, we’re putting a stop to SpireTech support for Win 7 machines on July 1st. Congratulations to those of you that have successfully eradicated these machines from your networks. However – in a review today, we see that approximately 10% of machines are still running Win 7. We’ve now got 30 days to get rid of the rest of them. While we don’t want to create unnecessary hardship for clients that may be stressed due to COVID-19, we still need clients to make an effort to replace the remaining systems.
Win 7 machines can be slow, insecure, and time-consuming to support. If your network gets breached due to outdated software, or you call us for support on a Win 7 system, we reserve the right to invoice for time beyond 15 minutes of support.
Windows 7 is reaching the end of its life and support on January 14, 2020. It’s now time to plan your upgrade to Windows 10.
What’s happening to Windows 7?
Windows 7 (as well as Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2) will no longer be supported by Microsoft after January 14, 2020. This means there will be no more software updates or security patches. Continuing to use the operating system could make you out of compliance with industry standards. Microsoft customer service will also no longer be available for Windows 7.
Unsupported operating systems are often targeted by cyber attackers specifically because they no longer receive software updates or patches to fix flaws and vulnerabilities. By continuing to use Windows 7 past its end of support, your PC will become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses.
Your organization may also be out of compliance with industry or legal standards if you continue to run on unsupported software or operating systems. Read more...