The latest Windows Insider build will help you sleep better

By Frederic Lardinois as written on

Launch of Microsoft's Windows 10 in Sydney on July 29, 2015 in Sydney, Australia.

Launch of Microsoft's Windows 10 in Sydney on July 29, 2015 in Sydney, Australia.

Microsoft launched one of its larger Insider Builds for Windows 10 today. The new version (15002) includes a plethora of new features that touch everything from the Start menu to the Edge browser, Windows Ink, Cortana, Defender and Windows’ built-in accessibility features. All of those are great, but the one new feature that may make the biggest difference in your day-to-day use of Windows 10 (and the night after) may be the new blue light settings that allow you to automatically show warmer colors at night (and reduce the amount of blue light).
If you’re already using f.lux, Night Light on Android Nougat (probably not), Night Shift on iOS, or a similar tool, then this isn’t anything new for you, but the vast majority of Windows 10 users are probably unaware of these third-party tools. The idea here is to reduce eye strain and to help you sleep better if you do have to work on your desktop at night. Blue light, research has shown, inhibits the release of melatonin and hence makes it harder to fall asleep after you’ve been sitting in front of a screen.


Bluelight Settings Windows 10 Screenshot

Microsoft is also making another change related to the color blue: the good old Blue Screen of Death is turning green in the Insider builds. Microsoft says it made this change “in an effort to more easily distinguish Windows Insider reports vs the reports of those on production builds.”
As for other new features, the new tab preview bar for the Edge browser looks very useful (though it’s something that other browsers have also long offered as a built-in feature). Edge now also lets you set tabs aside for later use, which should be useful for those of us who often have 20+ tabs open. With this update, Edge now also features a preview of Microsoft’s previously announced payment API.



In the Start menu, Windows 10 is finally getting support for folders to help you organize your tiles. In addition, users with 4k+ screens will surely appreciate the improved support for their monitors thanks to improved high-DPI support for desktop apps (which is still a bit of an issue for Windows users).
This is only a very small sample of what’s new in this build. You can find a full rundown of all of the new features in Microsoft’s announcement.

See how Microsoft and Managed Solution can improve your business here!

Plug in to success—7 steps for a strategic technology lifecycle


Take a minute to think about the applications you use, the programs you depend on and the technologies you’ve integrated into your business. Now ask yourself these questions: If a specific application supported my company in the past, how is it benefiting me now? Are our programs performing in line with our desired standard? What, if anything, am I doing to ensure my technology is not outdated? Is my vendor providing me with resources to manage my applications? Am I really getting the maximum business value from these solutions?

To answer these questions, many enterprise scale organizations use established processes to manage their technology. A technology lifecycle—or TLC—offers a systematic approach for assessing the state of your technologies. Thankfully, this indispensable method applies to both enterprise scale organizations and small and midsize businesses. So whether you’re an experienced IT professional or a technological tenderfoot, considering your TLC will yield promising, practical results.

TLC, defined.


Introduce yourself to the product’s benefits, programs, services and content. What’s new with the product? Who else is using it? How does it benefit them? From training resources to accessibility tools, analyzing your products’ perks in the early stages of implementation will drastically influence your business practices later on.


Select the best product for your business. Evaluate the product to confirm its alignment with your business’s goals. Think about both your current and future needs. Is the product secure and compliant? Will the product scale with future growth? Can you connect with current product users? Is there ongoing support and training for the product? What does the future product roadmap look like? If you choose a product that is cost-effective, yet lacks specific market advantages, you may find yourself trailing behind your competitors.


Connect with the product’s customer services, including any deployment assistance programs, step-by-step setup guidance or visual assets. These documents will serve as a roadmap for the successful implementation of your product. Consider your strategies for product-integration. How do you plan for successful deployment and adoption? Can you find demos and guidance? What are the considerations for the businesses most like yours in similar industries, at similar size and with similar business objectives?


Discover best practices for a successful product launch using an integrated admin console or alternative resources. How do you configure the product? How do you manage or administrate it? Are management and administration tools provided? How should you prepare for change and incidents? How can you assure your data is secure and company policies are being met? Researching practical ways for communicating the new product to employees will result in informed, confident and empowered users.


Configure and customize the product and integrate it within your company. Develop new and extend existing features and functionalities. Connect the product with line of business applications. Is development guidance provided? Are there opportunities to learn about best practices and see how the product is being modified to solve real business goals? Budget time for aligning your company’s goals and interests with the product, choosing internal applications that further the interest of your organization.


Retain critical support contacts and information to resolve issues with your deployment and management of the product. Consider live support options including in-person, phone or chat. These options should be balanced by online troubleshooting and guidance. Is there a broad set of support options to help me address a range of potential issues? Do you get appropriate and timely notifications? Can you plan for known issues and quickly get unanticipated issues addressed?


Secure the best possible experience with your new technology for you and your end users. Invest in a product with training and adoption options designed specifically to encourage you and your company to further your understanding as you advance with your new technology. Learning how to manage and sustain the product is important for anyone in an IT or administrator role. Similarly, learning is critical for ensuring your end users get the most from your technology investments. Effective product usage can positively impact your business.
Untangle your business, simplify your mind


When assessing technology’s impact, Microsoft has committed to the TLC. In fact, Microsoft’s whole Office Suite is TLC–compatible, offering services, check-ins and pertinent information that might otherwise be unavailable to businesses. Though a technology lifecycle may be just one of the many factors a business-owner or IT professional considers when implementing new technologies in the workplace, the importance of securing quality products with strong business and support services that match your business’s needs cannot be stressed enough.

Rest assured by investing in your business, and thrive on your future success.

The 5 insider secrets to mobile productivity in 2016

Creating a mobile workforce with a high level of supportive technology is one of the best things an organization can do to engage its employees. Specifically, a recent study conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit showed that companies with high rates of mobile enablement experienced a 16 percent increase in productivity as compared to those with low rates.


That’s because busy professionals are constantly on the go—whether traveling to yet another meeting or juggling work and home lives. But just because employees aren’t in the office tied to their computers doesn’t mean they can’t use their time wisely. It’s not uncommon to have lots of “dead time”—waiting in line for coffee, commuting on the subway, waiting for 15 minutes in the school pick-up line—that could be used differently, if only they had the tools to do so.
But if employees have a smartphone or tablet, they already possess the most important tool in their business tool belt. In fact, according to Wrike’s 2016 Mobile Productivity Report that surveyed 850 professionals, 43 percent said their mobile device was “very critical” for work. And 44 percent of respondents use their device for work-related business more than 20 times each day.
Most of us make great use of our phones and tablets to respond to business-related emails, texts and calls when we’re on the go. But there’s so much more you can do with your mobile device—even if your organization doesn’t provide top-notch mobile technology.
Increase your mobile productivity in 2016 by following these five insider tips:
1. Take advantage of recent app updates that allow for a more immersive mobile experience. App developers are constantly changing their creations, fixing bugs, adding new features and improving functionality and security. Just because an app hasn’t met all of your mobile workforce needs before doesn’t mean it won’t in the future. Keep your apps updated so you’ll always have access to the latest bells and whistles—and greater work-from-home productivity.
2. Discover how to multitask on mobile devices. When you’re on a computer, it’s easy to switch between tasks and run several applications at once. For example, you can watch a video and check the weather without the video stopping. It’s also possible to peruse your favorite social media site, read an email that just came in and return to your social media site without skipping a beat. For a long time, that wasn’t possible on mobile devices—but now, some offer limited multitasking. Explore options like app switching, split screen viewing and more on your mobile device.
3. Discover how to work offline on mobile apps. As we all know, internet connectivity isn’t available everywhere we go. And when you’re working on business-critical applications, losing your connectivity isn’t an option—or is it? There are actually several apps that will work offline. Some allow for short network loss or intermittent connectivity and use a “store-n-forward” method to store user data temporarily while connectivity is down. Others are designed to be used during an extended network loss—days, in some cases. Explore your options and increase your mobile productivity enormously.
4. Expand your phone storage in creative ways to carry more data for offline work. Your mobile productivity is limited by how much storage your device can handle. But there are plenty of simple ways to accomplish this. The most obvious is to purchase a micro-SD card or an adapter to add an SD card in case your device doesn’t take one. In addition, you can clear your app cache and delete apps you no longer use, since each one takes up storage space on your device. But one of the best ways to gain more storage is to use the cloud. A cloud storage app will automatically back up your mobile device’s data (including files, photos and more), giving you the freedom to free up additional storage space on your device.
5. Use devices like small Bluetooth keyboards or a mouse with your mobile phones. Sometimes it’s the simplest solutions that can impact our mobile productivity the most. Make your mobile device as convenient to use as your computer and you’ll see an instant shift toward increased work-from-home productivity.
Mobile devices have become part of our very core. And with productivity apps continuing on an upward swing, with 125 percent sessions growth in 2015, more and more people are using their mobile devices as a primary way to access email, apps like the Microsoft productivity suite and more. With that trend on the rise, businesses and developers are constantly looking for ways to make our experiences more seamless—inspiring us to make smartphones the smart way to complete tasks easily while on the go.


Sharing services to improve government efficiency

By Parul Bhandari as written on
Faced with shrinking budgets, many governments around the world are being forced to do more with less. In the United States, for example, consumption and investment by all levels of government—local, state and federal combined—recently dropped to 17.6 percent of gross domestic product, its lowest level in 66 years. Similar trends are occurring in many advanced economies around the world.
In the current climate, it’s imperative that governments make every dollar count—and shared services offer a compelling way to do just that. Since the 1990s, many governments have been sharing services—combining resources, functions, and infrastructure—to reduce costs and deliver services more effectively to citizens. And now, thanks to cloud computing, the opportunity exists to share services even more easily and cost-effectively, leading more government agencies to embrace this operating model with impressive results.
A great example is the Baltic country of Estonia, which is transforming citizen engagement by issuing a digital ID to all its citizens 15 years and older. This secure, authenticated identity acts as a national health insurance card, proof of identification for bank accounts, a pre-paid public transport ticket, voting identification, and more. With 600 e-services offered to citizens, Estonia is making access to government services much more efficient for citizens, no matter what service they need to access and which individual agency oversees it.
Likewise, the United Kingdom is reducing costs and increasing efficiency by combining technology across government departments located overseas. Specifically, the UK government is creating a Common Technology Service that allows overseas governmental agencies such as UK Trade and Investment, the Department for International Development, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to collaborate on documents, communicate by voice or video, share calendars, and work from mobile devices using common cloud-based systems. The effort is part of the UK’s “One HMG Overseas” agenda, which aims to remove barriers to joint working so that all overseas staff in the UK government can deliver the UK’s objectives more efficiently.
Saudi Arabia is taking yet another approach to shared services. Its Ministry of Interior’s National Information Center (NIC) is unifying data across government systems to provide better information to citizens while improving public safety and national security situational awareness. Charged with providing comprehensive e-services to citizens, residents, and businesses, the center is improving its e-services through the creation of a massive public data exchange database that can handle tens of terabytes of data and tens of millions of citizen requests per day. To provide public safety and national security officials with improved information, the center also deployed a system using a unified data integration platform, data management hosting, data warehousing, and business intelligence. The solution integrates with 182 internal and external systems and handles petabytes of structured and unstructured data.
These are just a few of the ways governments around the globe are sharing services to improve efficiency and deliver better services to constituents. To learn more, please see our “Best practices for government shared services” white paper. Also, be sure to reach Michele Bedford Thistle’s recent blog post, “A new era of shared services.”
Also, look to request a trial and experience how technology can empower your agency: Azure Government Trial, Office 365 Government Trial.

legal professionals with matter center - managed solution

Matter Center Helps Legal Firms Do Better Business

As you might imagine, Microsoft employs one of the largest corporate legal teams in the world. Having access to Microsoft’s development team, the legal team has used tools such as Office 365 extensively and has benefited from customization of those tools to enhance their utility in a legal environment. If you’re legal professional you’re probably asking yourself how this helps you. Well the great news is that Microsoft is now making these enhancements more broadly available to their legal professional customers through an add-in called Matter Center.
By working with a Microsoft partner, like Managed Solutions, your firm will be able to enjoy the enhancements made possible through the work of Microsoft’s Legal & Corporate Affairs (LCA) team. Once installed, Matter Center allows your team to create or view legal matters right from Outlook; tie Word, Excel, OneNote and other files to those matters; and securely collaborate with other legal professionals inside or outside your organization.
By working with nearly 200 law firms and partners in the legal industry, the LCA team was able to solicit feedback and input that went into building a world-class solution for the legal profession. Learn more about the development of Matter Center by the LCA team in this short video.

Here’s a quick rundown of the key benefits that will make Matter Center a game-changer for your legal practice:
  • Complete integration with Office 365 – Create and view right from Outlook, Word, Excel, OneNote and all the tools your team already has experience with.
  • Seamless mobile experience – Access Office 365 and Matter Center across all devices – PCs, Macs, tables and phones whether using Windows, Apple or Android OS.
  • Powerful and intuitive search and data visualization – You can easily and quickly search, find and retrieve matters and related documents across all cases.
  • Pinning and tagging – Track and pin frequently used matters and documents for easy access.
Learn more about boosting productivity for your office, both your team of legal professionals and for any IT professionals you employ or contract, with Office 365 and Matter Center.
Running Matter Center in the cloud will require Office 365 and Azure subscriptions. Matter Center has been designed to support multiple deployment configurations as well, whether on-premises or hybrid cloud. Managed Solutions can help your firm implement Office 365 and Matter Center quickly and cost-effectively. You can scale up and out at a pace that makes sense for your practice.

managing courtroom video - managed solution

Managing courtroom video

by Sergio Ortega Cruz as written on
In many places around the world, legal systems are turning to video footage to record trials and other court proceedings for record-keeping purposes. Moreover, many judges are allowing witnesses to testify via teleconference to create a more inclusive justice system.
Take Cook County Circuit Court in Illinois, for example. The court recently allowed a man bedridden from a stroke to testify via Skype. The man was seeking the extension of a protection order against his estranged wife, but felt too weak to get out of bed.
Likewise, the Ontario Superior Court recently allowed a witness from Denmark to testify via Skype in a child custody case. “Skype is now in HD and has an internal automatic checking system,” explains Family Lawyer Phil, who persuaded the judge to allow the testimony. “You can see people in the courtroom and they can see you. This is clearly the way of the future.”
As video conferencing in the courtroom becomes mainstream, it is improving courtroom efficiency in a variety of ways. It’s expediting the issuance of search warrants. It’s speeding up arraignments, pre-trial conferences, and other court hearings. It’s allowing foreign and out-of-state witnesses to testify while avoiding the cost of travel. And it’s reducing the cost of transporting prisoners to the courtroom.
Yet as courtrooms increasingly turn to video technology to improve their proceedings, managing this new way of doing things can quickly turn into an administrative burden. Video-conferencing technology can be unreliable. Video storage can be expensive. And accessing the exact content needed can involve hundreds of hours sifting through vast amounts of video footage.
The good news is that Microsoft provides the advanced technology needed to help judicial systems overcome all these hurdles. Consider the following:
•Capturing video: Increasingly, legal systems are turning to Skype for Business for reliable, high-quality video conferencing. Skype for Business protects conversations through strong authentication and encryption features. It offers built-in compliance for strict security requirements such as the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) standard in some U.S. versions. And it can be used even in situations in which the person appearing remotely is not on Skype for Business. All that person needs is a phone or Internet connection.
•Storing video: Microsoft Azure Storage offers the durability and scalability to store large amounts of video footage at low cost. Data stored within Azure Storage is automatically replicated to guard against hardware failure. And in situations where justice systems prefer to keep their video files on-premises, Azure Storage can be used as a backup to ensure a judicial system’s video footage is always available.
•Managing video: Microsoft Azure Media Services enables legal professionals to access the exact video content they need through Azure Media Indexer, a feature that uses state-of-the-art machine learning to convert spoken language in video files into a searchable text format. Thanks to this feature, legal professionals can conduct keyword searches for specific comments that were made during the conversation and obtain the exact time those words were spoken, making it easy to find those moments in the video.
As judicial systems incorporate video technology into their courtrooms, Microsoft is leading the way, helping them to reliably capture, store, and manage all this data. To learn more about our state-of-the-art solutions for the public safety arena, please see our State & Local Government webpage.


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Certainly smart businesses are looking for ways to reduce expenses without adversely affecting network operations, security, or availability.
Underutilized equipment that still consumes significant energy contributes to hefty utility and cooling costs. This adds not only unnecessarily increases costs and complexity, but also creates many single points of failure.
Virtualization and hybrid cloud provide cost-effective alternatives to pricey server replacement and allow you take back control of your IT assets – improve server reliability and availability, reducing capital costs and operating expenses that will help position your business for its most successful tomorrow.
As Technology Partners that Empower Business, Managed Solution invests upfront in our customers, creating virtualized solutions and cloud-based services in a digestible, bottom-line friendly monthly, per-user payment at no upfront cost to you.

Contact us for a Free Network Assessment and Technology Road map.


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