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MS Office 2019 released

Microsoft Office 2019 has been released and is (has been) the default version that is installed if you do a new install from the Office 365 portal. Yesterday I had my first PC which automatically received the forced update from the 2016 version of office 365 to the 2019 version.For subscription based MS Office the startup splash screen has, for some time, just indicated that its "office 365" and not 2016 version or otherwise. This is the case with office 2019 as well, its "software as a service" and you just get the latest versions fixes, updates and new versions (regardless if you want them or not). So you may not initially notice much of a difference except for new Icons on the "Microsoft ribbon" toolbar.


For Office 2013 standalone (perpetual license) applications you won't get upgraded at all, if you were to want to upgraded you would need purchase the next Office 2019 standalone package or more sensibly now subscribe to office 365. The reasoning for that recommendation is below.

Now that the new version is out, that pushes Office 2016 to the "old version" and 2013 to "the really old and nearly forgotten version". Microsoft has a habit of only supporting the current version and the one before only so I am expecting that at some point office (Outlook) 2013 will stop working with office 365 mail.

No action is required just now but any new installs, significant changes or investment in time needs to bare all of this in mind, its fairly complex once you start talking about MS office in a business environment.

Microsoft has said here: https://products.office.com/en-au/office-system-requirements

Office 365 is designed to work with the latest browsers and versions of Office. If you use older browsers and versions of Office that are not in mainstream support: Microsoft won't deliberately prevent you from connecting to the service, but the quality of your Office 365 experience may diminish over time.
Microsoft won't provide code fixes to resolve non-security related problems.
See the Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy site for Office mainstream support dates."

Office 2013 *is* out of mainstream support.

However, as I have already blogged about here. In 2020, Microsoft has specifically said it will block non subscription based Microsoft Office products from accessing Office 365 mail.
I do notice that on this page https://products.office.com/en-au/office-system-requirements they appear to be saying that they will in fact allow office 2016 and 2016 perpetual (Non- subscription) to access office 365 mail. I don't know if that's a softening of their stance or not.

"Effective October 13th, 2020, Office 365 services (e.g. Exchange Online, SharePoint Online) will only support Office client connectivity from subscription clients (e.g. Office 365 ProPlus), or the following Office perpetual clients: Office 2019 and Office 2016. See the Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy site for Office mainstream support dates."

However regardless of the above statement being carried through or the policy being changed (again) I think it's time to move to subscription based. Say goodbye to 7-10 years of MS Office for $169 per PC, it will now cost you around AU$10 a month* (or AU$840 for 7 years) per user. On the flip side you do get 5 MS office installed FOR THE LICENSED USER (not purchase one user and install it for 4 of your other staff), so you can have full function MS office on your PC, laptop, phone, tablet and other PC.

One thing to bear in mind is that Office 2019 will only install on Windows 10, if you have any Windows 8.1 or 7 PC's the new 2019 version will not install, we had the same pinch point situation with Office 2010 and office 365 mail.

So that may mean a new MS office update, triggers a new MS Windows install, which may trigger a new PC as well depending on how sensible it is to invest time in an old windows 7 or 8 PC hardware. Roaming Windows profiles won't roam between Windows 7/8 either so that triggers a need to recreate and reconfigure roaming profiles for all staff if you upgrade windows version.

Roaming Windows profiles between different versions of MS office:
If you have roaming user profiles in your office to allow users to seamlessly move between PC's bear in mind that office (specifically Outlook) won't properly roam between different PCs that have different versions of MS outlook.

Microsoft access 2019 run time is now available free for those of you who have custom access databases I haven't invested any time in testing it yet but this open the gateway to being able to use the latest version of MS office *and* the access runtime.

This blog post has been provided for the benefit of digitalwelcomemat IT customers.
Treat this information as informative only and do not take actions or make decisions on the basis of the information contained here. All IT decisions and actions should be made after consultation with your chosen IT professional taking into account all the of the relevant factors.

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Roaming user profiles known issue

There is a Roaming user profiles known issue that Microsoft describes as follows: 

On a computer that's running Windows 10 Version 1803, you experience logon or logoff delays when you use roaming user profiles. You also receive the following error message: Your roaming profile was not completely synchronized. See the event log for details or contact administrator".

https://support.microsoft.com/en-au/help/4340390/roaming-profile-was-not-completely-synchronized-error-and-logon-logoff

If think you are experiencing this issue please let me know.

This blog post has been provided for the benefit of digitalwelcomemat IT customers.
Treat this information as informative only and do not take actions or make decisions on the basis of the information contained here. All IT decisions and actions should be made after consultation with your chosen IT professional taking into account all the of the relevant factors.

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UPS?

 Today would be a good day to consider if all your servers and PC's are protected by an uninterruptible power supply (UPS), more detail here:

https://www.digitalwelcomemat.com/index.php/home/entry/every-pc-deserves-a-ups

No UPS = unmitigated serious risk of catastrophic hardware failure and data loss in the event of a power surge or sag.

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MS Surface *Pro* with 4G

The Microsoft Surface Pro is now available with built in 4G as an option. Just grab an extra shared sim card and no more need to worry about shared Wi-Fi or hotspot when you're in and out of the office. This has been available on the low powered Atom based Surface [Standard] previously but this is new for the Surface Pro which is a full powered PC just like a laptop. (12.3" screen)

Although Surface starts AU$1,199.00 inc GST, sadly it's only the at AU$2,199.00 model that has 4G for now. (Special pricing for eligible students, parents and teachers is available on all models).

https://www.microsoft.com/en-au/surface/devices/surface-pro/overview


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Microsoft office 2019

Microsoft office 2019 which will be released later this year, as the traditional one-off purchase model or via office 365, will require Windows 10. 

It won't install on Windows 7 or 8. 

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Internet vs Local IP address

Normally I try to keep my posts here not too technical but I am getting this question a fair bit so here goes:

IP addresses on a local network vs "my" IP address on the internet simplified into one "easy to understand" diagram.

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"Microsoft is readying multi-session support for Windows 10"

 Tech journalists have been reporting in the last few days that:

"Microsoft is readying multi-session support for Windows 10 [for remote desktop/remote access]
Microsoft looks poised to add a new Multi Session option to Windows 10, likely this fall, which will allow IT to provide multiple users with remote access to desktops/apps without relying on Windows Server [for that role]…"

http://www.zdnet.com/article/microsoft-is-readying-multi-session-support-for-windows-10/

More information as it comes to hand later in the year, at the end of the day its really all about the total licensing cost so we will have to see if there is any real change for business.

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Migrate to the NBN then... snip

Take away message: Find out when your traditional phone services are being cut off due to the NBN and take some action well before then.

NBN Co which is (from my understanding) the new owner of the Australian cabling network that once was owned by Telstra have been saying as follows since the rollout of NBN has begun:

"Homes and business have 18 months to migrate to the NBN once it is available to them, after which traditional copper and cable services in the area are severed — cutting off fixed-line phone and internet access."
https://www.nbnco.com.au/learn-about-the-nbn/device-compatibility/services-that-will-be-switched-off.html

You can check your address here (https://www.nbnco.com.au/connect-home.html) and you may see advice similar to as follows:
"The disconnection process for the old phone and internet network in this area is scheduled to begin on July 2018"

You can also find additional information about timing via the Telstra wholesale website which has some downloadable spreadsheets searchable by suburb.
https://www.telstrawholesale.com.au/nbn/nbn-rollout-schedule.html

For some information on what will be turned off the following web sites list services that will be cut of or need to be considered:
https://www.acma.gov.au/Citizen/Phones/Landlines/The-NBN-and-you/phone-and-internet-disconnection-schedule
https://www.finder.com.au/nbn-copper-cut-off

What will be turned off?

  • Home/business PSTN landline phone services
  • All ADSL, ADSL2 and ADSL2+ Internet services from all providers
  • Telstra BigPond cable Internet services
  • Optus cable Internet and cable phone services


"As well as phone and Internet, it's important to consider other services running off the old copper-based network that will be affected after the switch-off date. These include:"

  • Medical alarms, auto diallers or emergency call buttons
  • Security alarms
  • EFTPOS or health-claim terminals
  • Monitored fire alarms
  • Lift emergency phones
  • Fax and teletypewriter devices


Of most concern for most businesses is the phone lines and existing phone system. Note that you almost universally do NOT need to purchase a new phone system or sign a new contract with Telstra to maintain your lines regardless of what Telstra the sales people may tell you. In fact with the Telstra demotion from network owner and maintainer to "Just another player in the marketplace" I would suggest that Telstra may not be the best provider for phone line services going forward (mobile services excluded from that statement).

Once the NBN has rolled out and your phone lines have been converted, phone calls will be made over the internet. In reality you should not notice any difference you can typically use the same phones or phone system that you have now.

For your existing phone system (PABX) you will need to look at getting a SIP gateway device, which is similar to a set-top box when we moved from analogue to digital TV. Once you have this in place, the new phone lines connected, and the number(s) transferred over. Your old phone system should be able to make and receive calls just as you always have but using SIP or Voice Over IP (VoIP) as the underlying technology.

If you do need or want a new phone system for whatever reason a more sensible approach to replacing a system where the concept hasn't really changed much since the 1970's, is a virtual PABX. There are a number of significant benefits to this and it will probably work out a *lot* less expensive upfront and ongoing.

I will be contacting all of my customer individually to discuss this further.



This blog post has been provided for the benefit of digitalwelcomemat IT customers.
Treat this information as informative only and do not take actions or make decisions on the basis of the information contained here. All IT decisions and actions should be made after consultation with your chosen IT professional taking into account all the of the relevant factors.

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Data leak monitoring

I have been asked many times about data leak monitoring and protection for organisations. The most common enquiry is concerned with employees taking organisational data when they leave. Up until now I haven't had a solution that I have been able to recommend that would be feasible for small business from a cost and complexity perspective.


There is a new product available that looks promising. It is able to monitor and/or protect data leakage via email, USB backup drive, cloud uploads and also monitors other undesirable activity's using the organisations computers that can be indicative of an emerging problem.

If this is something that you are concerned about please let me know and we can discuss further.

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Laptop purchase price vs satisfaction index

Laptop purchase price vs satisfaction index; Although this *is* an accurate indication of my experience in terms of feedback received, this information is meant to be taken as tongue-in-cheek. Make your own investigations and consider your own unique needs and preferences and don't rely on this information for your purchasing decisions.
 

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Office 365 support scam (suspected)

If you receive an unexpected support request or offer for help from "Microsoft" its probably a scam. Here is one of the more sophisticated ones, so much so that I cant tell without detailed digging if it is or isn't a scam (well I have a pretty good idea). This content was contained in an attached PDF.

If in doubt don't click, so I have taken my own advice.

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Windows 10 Fall creators update available now

The Windows 10 Fall creators update is available now if you don't want to wait for the staged automated install .

For a single PC just go to the following web site and click "update now". If you have multiple PCs you can also create an install disk either on USB or ready to burn to DVD.

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10

This will need to be done from an administrative account and I suggest you plan to let it run overnight. As always make sure you have good backups if you store data on the PC that's getting updated.

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711 million unique email address and passwords released on the internet

Be on the lookout for anything unexpected in your inbox after 711 million unique email address "Many containing passwords" have been made freely available on the internet in the last few days. This is being reported as the largest documented data dump to date. This data can be used in a variety of ways.


Worth mentioning a couple of important security practices:

  • DON'T REUSE PASSWORDS for different services, otherwise if www.sarahsmuffins.com.au gets hacked because Sarah doesn't know much about security then the bad guys will get access to all your accounts on the entire internet. Consider a password manager like LastPass or RoboForm.
  • Don't just click on links in emails, at least hover first to see where the link goes, if its an email from Telstra and the link is to www.getyourvirushere.com then don't click. If you are unsure just don't click it at all. Phone or email the sender from a new clean email seeking more details.


Details are here:
https://www.troyhunt.com/inside-the-massive-711-million-record-onliner-spambot-dump/

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"Telstra" phishing email

 "Telstra" phishing email. don't click. ALWAYS "hover" before you click...

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NBN 100/40

 When you log on to work remotely and your connection speed is 34 times faster than it was yesterday you know its going to be  a good day...

Good quality 100/40 speed FTTN NBN is a wonderful thing even if you are a long way out of a metro area. (Exetel in this case)

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Router reset?

Just like the IT crowd (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2F1rFmyQmY) sometimes the solution *is* turning it off and on again and that applies to the modem router as well.

We sometimes use various phrases to say shutdown and restart, phrases like; Reset, restart, power cycle or reboot. What is meant by all of these is restart or, shutdown wait a few seconds and then start-up again.

What we DON'T mean is reset the device to factory defaults either via a hardware button or via the web interface.
By the way even if Telstra tells you to do a factory reset don't do it then either unless the helpful level 1 Telstra tech support person is planning to drive to your home or office to re-set it up for you.

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Metered connections on Windows 10 post Creators update install

Metered connections on Windows 10 post Creators update install:

For Windows 10 Users on tablets and laptops that connect via phone hotspot or other "low download quota" services you need to be aware that there has been a change in the way that Microsoft handle windows updates over "metered connections"

This page tells us that: 

"A metered connection is an Internet connection that has a data limit associated with it. Cellular data connections are set as metered by default. Wi-Fi and Ethernet network connections can be set to metered but aren't by default. Some apps might work differently on a metered connection to help reduce your data usage. Also, some updates for Windows won't be installed automatically." 

As you can see by the description and by the screen shot below, some updates will still be downloaded even over a metered connection. This is a change from previous versions of Windows and may cause you consume more data than expected especially if you use multiple PCs connected to your "low download quota" service. 

You need to be aware of this and ensure that you have enough download quota to cope with the demand.

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Office changes, If you use Office 365

If you use Office 365…. and a perpetual (rather than subscription based) licence, Microsoft has announced some coming changes with the "supported version" of MS Office. 

Firstly if you don't use Office 365 for mail or SharePoint/OneDrive professional this does not affect you. 

MS has made this statement:
Effective October 13th, 2020, Office 365 will only allow Office client connectivity from subscription clients (Office 365 ProPlus) or Office perpetual clients within mainstream support to connect to Office 365 services. (Please refer to the Microsoft support lifecycle site for Office mainstream support dates.) https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Office-365-Blog/Office-365-system-requirements-changes-for-Office-client/ba-p/62327 

What this means is that from 2020 onward you will need either a subscription based version of MS office (Office 365) to be able to use it with "cloud based services" or you will need to update (and keep updated) your current version of MS office perpetual licence as the Office 2016 "mainstream support" ends on October 13th, 2020. All previous versions will be in the same situation at this point also. 

If you don't upgrade your $265 MS office home and business perpetual licence from Harvey Norman or Officeworks, you won't be able to connect to office 365. As you are probably aware the MS Office 365 subscription version is continually updated and you are always provided the latest version as part of your subscription. 

For business, the Office subscription is currently $10.50 per month extra for Office 365 (A total of $17.50 per user per month vs. $7.00 per user per month for just mail) https://products.office.com/en-au/compare-all-microsoft-office-products?tab=2 Over a 3 year period your MS office costs you $360 but you have the benefit of installing it for you to use on 5 different devices, for example your desktop PC, your laptop, your tablet and your phone. What you are not licenced to do is install it on another PC for another user to use, the 5 licences are for the single user account. 

In the past you have been able to effectively half the cost of MS office for your organisation by purchasing and then skipping the next version. For example purchase 2010 and (when there is a need) purchase 2016 (skipping 2013). However this appears not to be a viable option any longer and you will be required to update each version anyway which makes the subscription model better value. 

I would expect that there is a new version of Office to be released in 2018 based on the normal 3 year cycle from the last MS office release date which was September 2015. 2020 seems like a long way off but you need to be aware to be able to plan for moving to the subscription based version of MS office, knowing that you would be required to upgrade your MS office perpetual version anyway. 

This probably means any new users/PC should go on the subscription model from now onward.

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WannaCryptor protection check utility

ESET /NOD32 have released a small utility which you can use to check if you have the appropriate Microsoft updates that protect you from the NSA EternalBlue Windows vulnerability which includes WannaCryptor and any future copycat malware that uses this vulnerability. 

You can download at the link below and just double click to run. 

It only takes literally a second to do the check. 

https://help.eset.com/eset_tools/ESETEternalBlueChecker.exe

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WannaCryptor Ransomware

Over the weekend, news broke of a new ransomware threat called WannaCryptor. 

WannaCryptor is a worm that was developed thanks to the release of a hacking tool developed by the US NSA in the called EternalBlue. 

If you PC becomes infected, normally by one of the common methods, opening an infected email, an infected USB disk, or an infected website the worm will infect any PC on the network that does not have the appropriate security patch installed. The end result is that all your files will be encrypted and you will have to undertake a massive clean-up and restore from backup or consider dealing with the ransomware creator (with no guarantee of getting your files back). 

Microsoft patched that vulnerability in March this year in supported systems. But PC's and servers that are not patched either automatically or manually will be vulnerable including (and of particular concern) is always those operating systems that are no longer supported. Microsoft has released a one-time update for Windows XP, Server 2003, and Windows 8 even though these operating systems are no longer supported and are in most cases well over 10 years old: https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/msrc/2017/05/12/customer-guidance-for-wannacrypt-attacks/ 

Nod32/Eset antivirus provider have provided this brief statement: "ESET products can detect and block this malware" (http://support.eset.com/alert6442/) However, there will be new variants released over the coming weeks so you should have multiple layers of protection. 

The usual security precautions apply to try to prevent getting this (or any other) virus or malware: 

  • Don't open attachments from email where you don't know and trust the sender and be careful what links you click on 
  • Have a good antivirus product and make sure its up to date
  • Be carefully when browsing the web and don't browse to unscrupulous websites 
  • Ensure that your PC's and servers are patched/updated (normally PC updates should be automated and servers are manually updated on a schedule) 
  • Don't be an administrator on your own PC for everyday use
  • Have a good backup that is rotated off the PC or server so that there is always a backup not connected to your server or PC 
  • Don't use outdated and unsupported versions of Windows 
  • Have a disaster recovery strategy
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Digitalwelcomemat provides IT consultancy and services for business customers on the NSW Central Coast in Australia.

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