Microsoft Releases A Free Version of Teams

Have you heard of Microsoft Teams?

It’s a collaboration platform that combines workplace chat, meetings, notes, and attachments. Used by hundreds of thousands of business across the world, it integrates with the company’s Office 365 subscription office productivity suite.

However, the good news is that a free version has now been released by Microsoft.

The program brings together chat, meetings, calling, files and apps in a shared workspace. It will be available in 40 languages for up to 300 people.

What can Mircospft’s Team do for you?

Teams is a complete chat and online meetings solution. You can host audio, video, and web conferences, and chat with anyone inside or outside your organisation.

It makes teamwork easy. For example, you can co-author and share files with popular Office 365 apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, SharePoint, and Power BI.

Integrate apps from Microsoft and third-party partner services to tailor your process, increasing teamwork and productivity.

Plus when paired with Phone System, Calling Plan, and/or Direct Routing, Office 365 provides a full business calling experience in Teams on a global scale.

Now the free version is here it’s well worth a look.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, and surrounding villages.

Microsoft Adds Ransomware Protection To OneDrive

OneDrive ransomware protection

 

OneDrive Ransomware Protection

Here’s a scenario for you.

You know all about ransomware and how it can affect your computer. But did you realise it can also spread to your files stored in the cloud?

Microsoft does, which is why it’s creating some new OneDrive protections.

As a result, you can now ‘roll back’ the files stored in OneDrive to versions stored up to a month ago. This helps you get back to a point before the malware infection occurred.

Better still, it will use its automated threat-detection system. This figures out when the ransomware began infecting those files. You then get an alert, via your phone, so let you know that an infection has taken place.

What’s the catch?

You have to subscribe to Office 365, although the Outlook protections aren’t yet available to the Office 365 version of Outlook.

How does it work?

According to a recent article in PCWorld.com:

“What’s new is that Microsoft has adapted its Files Restore capability—previously only for OneDrive for Business—and brought it into Office 365 subscriptions for home users. Not only will Microsoft detect an attack, but you’ll be notified by any channels that Microsoft would normally use to send you messages: email, a popup notification, and more.

“Then, you’ll be able to enter OneDrive and essentially “roll back” to an earlier day. You’ll want to pick a day before Microsoft alerted you about the attack, naturally.

“Microsoft has also taken security within Outlook a step further: Now you can password-protect links to folders or files. That’s handy: Previously, there was really no real way to protect links to files or folders from being shared to anyone. Both the ransomware detection and link protections are available starting Thursday, Microsoft said.

“If you are concerned about those links being forwarded, Microsoft has begun to address that, too. In Outlook.com, you now have the option of encrypting a file or preventing it from being forwarded, or both simultaneously.”

 

 

 

Even Old Windows Server Machines Can Fend of Hacks

Windows Server 2003

 

Microsoft wants you to upgrade your business onto the latest Windows OSes that offer security patches because, if you’re running a Windows Server 2003 machine, you’re doomed.

Sound advice, but many large institutions (such as those in healthcare and manufacturing) can’t upgrade because they rely on legacy software that won’t run on modern operating systems.

It costs an enormous amount to upgrade, especially when the machines are fine and it’s just the Server that’s the issue.

However, all is not lost because there are some things you can do to keep your old Windows Server 2003 secure.

Network segmentation and monitoring

Network segmentation goes beyond placing vulnerable servers behind a firewall.

By restricting access to your most critical servers, and making sure only system admins can control them, you’re reducing the network hackers can access should they breach your firewall.

It’s not a costly exercise, and Enterprise internet routers often have access control features that can limit which computers can talk to what. It’s also wise to monitor vulnerable servers (especially if carrying critical information) for any unusual traffic.

Application whitelisting

Whitelisting works by allowing only trusted applications to run on your computer.

It’s the opposite approach to antivirus products that blacklist malicious programs based on known indicators.

Backup sensitive data

Hopefully, you’re already doing this, but backing up important data stored in your machines will help. Particularly with the growing popularity of ransomware that infects your computer and encrypts all the data within it, which will only be freed once a ransom is paid.

The best option

Although these ideas will help, the best solution is still to upgrade.

Yes, it will be costly in the short-term, but that investment will help the long-term security of your data and reputation of your business.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Source: pcworld

Should You Use Chrome or Microsoft Edge?

Chrome or Edge?

 

Are you using Google Chrome?

Have you noticed a few notifications over the last few months in your Windows updates?

Microsoft is trying its hardest to sell its rival browser, Microsoft Edge, by telling you your current browser is rubbish.

The pop-up ad you’ve been seeing appears in Windows 10’s Action Centre whenever you open Google Chrome. It states: ‘Chrome is draining your battery faster’ and encourages you to switch to Microsoft Edge for longer usage times.

It’s easy to turn these off if you want to by heading to Settings, then System, then click Notifications & Actions from the side bar on the left. From there, scroll to ‘Get tips, tricks and suggestions as you use Windows’ and flick the switch to off. Windows should then keep its ”suggestions” to itself.

But is Google Chrome draining our battery?

The simple answer is yes. It is one of the worst browsers for battery life, reportedly lasting three hours less than Edge.

The problem with switching to Edge is that it has a real shortage of extensions; nowhere near the range that you can have running simultaneously on Chrome. Of course, if you’re not running any extensions you’ll probably find Edge will run faster and as Windows reminds us, run for longer.
 

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Source: Transcendit

Do You Want More Control Over When Windows 10 Installs Updates?

Windows 10 upgrades

You spoke. Microsoft listened.

That’s not something that happens every day, but Microsoft is canny enough to realise its priority has to be keeping its customers happy.

Following user feedback, the software giant has finally taken notice of the complaints that it’s been receiving since Windows 10 made its debut. These are mainly levelled at how the OS grabs control of their PC to install updates and upgrades, usually at inconvenient times.

In a report by Computerworld, Microsoft has announced it will offer customers more options for installing, and delaying, monthly security updates and once to twice a year feature upgrades.

Starting with the upcoming Windows 10 Creators Update release, Microsoft will give users notifications once an update or upgrade has been downloaded and offer them the ability to install right away or hit “snooze,” which will postpone the update install for three days.

These new options apply to all Windows 10 editions. Administrators, however, will only be able to push policy-based delays in the Pro, Enterprise, and Education editions of Windows 10.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Source: Spiceworks

Have You Installed the Emergency Flash Patch?

emergency flash patch

 

As a PC user, you rely on Microsoft’s regular patch updates to make sure your system works smoothly and remains secure.

Adobe and Microsoft release Flash Player updates at about the same time to limit the number of vulnerable users, but in February something went wrong.

We’re not sure what because Microsoft is keeping tight-lipped, but for some reason, the software giant cancelled it’s usual Patch Tuesday that month.

As a result, a critical security fix has been released to resolve the problem with Adobe’s Flash Player on:

  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows Server 2012
  • Windows Server 2012 RE
  • Windows RT 8.1
  • Windows 10
  • Windows Server 2016

According to The Verge:

“The patch requires a restart, and fixes a problem that could lead to remote code execution. It’s a serious issue, so check Windows Update and install the patch immediately.”

Check your patches

Historically it’s been shown that attackers analyse Flash Player updates to find vulnerabilities, which are then used to attack the users who haven’t patched their systems.

That’s why it’s important to double-check whether you have downloaded the patch.

If you haven’t, your whole system is at risk.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Source: Spiceworks

Microsoft’s Browsing Code’s Got a Bug

Microsoft code bug

 

Microsoft is having a ‘bad day at the office’ at the moment.

At the beginning of February, it cancelled a regular monthly security update without explanation (it was to include fixes for several significant vulnerabilities). Plus, security researchers released information about how to exploit a weakness in some Microsoft server code.

Not a great start to the year.

To top it all, a recent article on the BBC website announced that Google had released details of a bug in Microsoft’s browsing program that allows attackers to build websites that make the software crash.

It stated that:

Google researcher Ivan Fratric, said the bug could, in some cases, allow attackers to hijack a victim’s browser.

The bug was found in November, but details are only now being released after the expiry of the 90-day deadline Google gave Microsoft to find a fix.

Microsoft has yet to say when it will produce a patch that removes the bug.

The problem is found in Internet Explorer 11 as well as the Edge browser and arises because of the way both programs handle instructions to format some parts of web pages.

In a statement, Microsoft did not comment directly on the bug and its significance but said it had a “customer commitment to investigate reported security issues and proactively update impacted devices as soon as possible”.

It added it was involved in “an ongoing conversation with Google about extending their deadline since the disclosure could potentially put customers at risk”.

The good news is that at the moment there is no evidence that malicious attackers are exploiting the problem unearthed by Mr Fratric.

The bad news is that no fix has yet been released for this vulnerability.

If we hear anything new, we’ll update you.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Source: BBC

Microsoft’s Monthly Rollup Updates

Windows monthly rollup updates

 

You may have noticed that since October 2016 Microsoft introduced monthly rollup updates for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1.

Why?

Well, according to Technet it’s because:

“Historically, we have released individual patches for these platforms, which allowed you to be selective with the updates you deployed. This resulted in fragmentation where different PCs could have a different set of updates installed leading to multiple potential problems:

  • Various combinations caused sync and dependency errors and lower update quality
  • Testing complexity increased for enterprises
  • Scan times increased
  • Finding and applying the right patches became challenging
  • Customers encountered issues where a patch was already released, but because it was in limited distribution it was hard to find and apply proactively

By moving to a rollup model, we bring a more consistent and simplified servicing experience to Windows 7 SP1 and 8.1, so that all supported versions of Windows follow a similar update servicing model. The new rollup model gives you fewer updates to manage, greater predictability, and higher quality updates. The outcome increases Windows operating system reliability, by eliminating update fragmentation and providing more proactive patches for known issues. Getting and staying current will also be easier with only one rollup update required. Rollups enable you to bring your systems up to date with fewer updates, and will minimize administrative overhead to install a large number of updates. (Note: Several update types aren’t included in a rollup, such as those for Servicing Stack and Adobe Flash.)” (Technet)

Now, as a user, you will get a monthly rollup that addresses both security issues and reliability issues in a single update.

Sounds OK, but what about this single monthly update rollup means users don’t have the ability to figure out exactly what fix in the rollup is causing the headache.

Only time will tell how successful this approach is going to be, so we shall continue to monitor the situation.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Windows Update KB3097877 Crashes Outlook

bad apple windows update

 

Usually, Windows updates make your life easier, but not this time.

Part of the security bulletin MS15-115, which is a critical patch to fix vulnerabilities in OpenType fonts, KB3097877 has turned out to be a bad apple.

There have been numerous reports from Windows 7 users about problems with logging in to Windows, or experiencing crashes in Outlook 2010 and 2013 when viewing HTML emails after downloading the update.

Microsoft hasn’t issued a patch to fix it, instead they’ve reissued it under the same reference (just to confuse everyone), so once you’ve remove it and are offered the same again from Windows Updates, you should be fine.

So how do you get rid of the offending update?

To remove the patch in Windows 7, open the Control Panel, Programs and Features, click “View installed updates” on the left hand side. You can now search for KB3097877, right-click on the appropriate entry and select un-install.

Alternatively, and perhaps preferably (especially if you’re actually able to login to Windows) simply check for Windows Updates again. If KB3097877 is available with a date of 12/11/2015 then install this and reboot again.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

15 Essential Microsoft Word Shortcuts

Word shortcuts

 

Microsoft Word is one of those programmes you use every day (pretty much) without giving it a second thought.

But what if there was a way to be more productive?

It’s the same with anything you use regularly.

You become overly familiar with it and then continue to use it as as you always have, even if there’s a quicker way to get things done.

That’s the problem with Word. It’s certainly not the hardest bit of software to use, so the way you use it seems perfectly OK. However, just a few minutes of your time will make you more productive.

Below are 15 really useful keyboard shortcuts that you, or may not know about. They work for both Word for Windows 2013 and 2016.

Ready?

Here goes.

  1. Keyboard Access to the Ribbon: Just like Excel, Word has a method that lets you access menu items using only your keyboard. Just press Alt or F10 and letters will appear next to each visible menu item. Press the corresponding letter to activate a particular menu option. To get rid of the labels, press Esc.
  2. Ctrl + F1: Display or hide the Ribbon.
  3. Ctrl + K: Insert a hyperlink for the selected text.
  4. Ctrl + F: Open the search box in the navigation pane.
  5. Alt + Ctrl + S: Split or remove split in the document window.
  6. Ctrl + Backspace: Delete one word to the left.
  7. Shift + F3: Change the case of the selected letters.
  8. Alt + Shift + W: Underline the selected words, but not the spaces included in the selection.
  9. Ctrl + 1: Set single-line spacing.
  10. Ctrl + 2: Set double-line spacing.
  11. Ctrl + 5: Set 1.5-line spacing.
  12. Ctrl + Y: Re-do the last action.
  13. Ctrl + Enter: Insert page break.
  14. Ctrl + W: Close the current document.
  15. Alt + F4: Close the program.

How many did you already know?

Not many I’m guessing.

There’s lot to remember there, so bookmark this page for easy reference until you’ve committed  them all to memory.

Happy typing.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.