Tag : Windows XP

Death of Windows XP

Support for Windows XP will end as of April 8, 2014. What this means to you is that there will be no more support from Microsoft which equates to no more security updates. Is this something current XP users should be concerned about? YES! With Microsoft no longer offering support that means if there is a new exploit it won’t have a patch to fix it! Your system is then vulnerable to attacks, data theft, and hacking. This also means that many of the software created for Windows XP will no longer have support as well. If you haven’t considered upgrading, Microsoft is about to take the choice out of your hands.

Cool Mouse – Microsoft Arc Touch

I was at the Microsoft store in Scottsdale the other day and they showed me a really cool mouse that I think will be very popular.  This Unique, portable design has touch scroll with vibrating feedback. Thumbnail USB has innovative storage on base of mouse which is new to any mouse devise. BlueTrack laser technology allows the mouse to be used on a variety of surfaces. Ambidextrous, no skipping or staggering on different table surfaces.  The Microsoft’s Arc Touch is listed retail at $67.95 and is about as portable as you can get and adds style to the otherwise plain mobile mouse market.   The Arc Touch has one of the most unique form factors I have seen in a mouse. When off, it lays in a prone position (2.28 by 5.14-inches, WH), but to power it on the mouse sits bent; its back arched to create a comfortable structure to hold and navigate with. The mouse buttons are encased in glossy black plastic that tends to attract smudge marks and the like. Breaking up the black is the touch scroll wheel that’s encased in a silver matte plastic. The palm portion on the Arc Touch has a soft rubberized coating.  In terms of buttons, the Arc Touch is outfitted with the basics—a left and right click, and touch scroll. Most mice rolling out these days as least have the two browser buttons, but Microsoft decided to leave this extra out.

Weighing a scant 0.2 pounds and having such a slim profile, the Arc Touch is pretty portable. There’s even a spot to store the wireless USB adapter: On the bottom of the mouse there a small metallic strip that will securely hold the adapter in place during travel. The Arc Touch takes two AA batteries (which are included), and according to Microsoft will last up to 6 months.   The Arc Touch has plug-and-play capabilities, but for those who like to tweak their mouse speed and add different functions to their buttons you can download the designated software. Unfortunately, the software provided with the product will only work for Windows XP, Vista, and 7—no Mac support which angers me. However, the Arc Touch device will work with Mac PCs. Within Microsoft’s IntelliPoint software you can customize the mouse speed, the scroll speed and feedback, and what kind of pointer you want.   The Arc Touch comes packed with the aforementioned USB wireless receiver that transmits on a 2.4GHz frequency, which is fairly standard for mice in this category.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure-VDI-Pro’s and Con’s

In the past 6 months BVA has seen a tremendous push towards (VDI) Virtual Desktop Infrastructure which is unique in my eyes, for the most part it is because we have come full circle.  About 10 years ago there was a tremendous push toward thin-clients and dumb terminals which had a lot of success back then.  After a few years of this, organizations decided to move back to heavy client models mostly due to workstations lowering their cost.  Regardless of how we got to this point, VDI is back and more popular than ever.  BVA has deployed over four VDI solutions in the past three months with minimal hurdles and we are getting great reviews from the client via user experience.

Lets talk about VDI and what it is and is not.  Basically Virtualization technology can provide virtual desktops to your users which, over time, will save you on hardware cost as well as administration. All of us are familiar with the concept of virtual platforms/servers and using this technology to virtualize server applications (like SQL server, print servers, or other dedicated servers). VDI takes this a step farther.

Here are the steps to using VDI:

  1. Create a virtual machine
  2. Install a VDI Connection Broker – this Connection Broker is what determines which Remote Desktop Host a user is assigned or should be connected to. Here are some of the connection brokers available today:
    • ChipPC Virtual Desktop Center
    • Citrix Desktop Broker for Presentation Server
    • Dunes Virtual Desktop Orchestrator (VD-O) and Virtual Service Orchestrator (VS-O)
    • LeoStream Virtual Desktop Connection Broker
    • Propero workSpace
    • Provision Networks Virtual Access Suite (VAS)
  3. Install a desktop operating system on that VM, such as Windows XP or Windows Vista
  4. Install desktop applications on the VM
  5. Allow remote access to that virtual desktop system over the network using any number of possible remote control options

VDI is basically thin-client computing (such as Citrix/Terminal Services). With VDI, you are taking the processing off of the end user’s device and bringing it onto a server. The difference with VDI, unlike thin-client, the virtual desktop is dedicated to a single end user or mapped to provide the desktop OS & applications to a single client viewing device.  Many VDI packaged solutions, of course, uses VMware or Microsoft’s virtual platforms as the underlying virtualization product.

Why should an organization use VDI?

  • SecurityDesktops are more secure
  • Rollback – Can use VMware’s snapshot and revert technology on desktop machines
  • Centralized Apps – Applications upgrades are easier because systems are all in a centralized location
  • Speed Deployment – You can quickly clone existing machines and roll out new systems because machines are all in a single central repository
  • Provide a full desktop PC – You are providing full access to a virtual machine and each virtual desktop is mapped to a single user or a single client device.
  • Reliability – If you could quickly restore any PC OS to a usable state, free from viruses or corruption, how reliable could your desktop systems be?

Here are some key points about the solution for your reference:

  1. You could use older or existing PC’s but that doesn’t provide you all the benefits you could get from VDI. You could also use thin-client devices running RDP. Ideally, you might consider something like the new Wyse Thins OS-VDI, made just for thin clients that will be connected to VDI servers. More information can be found at: http://www.wyse.com/about/news/pr/2006/0802_VMwareVDI.asp and http://www.wyse.com/products/software/os
  2. With regards to remote control application, you can choose from RDP, VNC, or others
  3. For Legacy hardware you can use RDP, for example, which supports USB devices on the client and if you could put a parallel or serial device on the server, you could also access it from the client.
  4. You will have to do your own cost comparison, keeping in mind, the soft numbers related to the increased security and management functionality.  There are several case studies that outline a 5 year ROI that shows the cost comparison where you come out appropriately.

Top Reasons Why Internet Explorer 9 Will Remain The Most Used Browser – Is Microsoft Internet Explorer The Most Used Browser – Why IE 9 Is Better For The Enterprise | BVA IT Consulting Blog

It is still left to be determined but so far so good. BVA has seen a few problems with integration with third party custom applications as well as add-ins but for the most part this new browser is pretty good.  We have it in production with over 15 clients across different market segments and feel confident in the product.  What’s funny is that Microsoft’s Internet Explorer doesn’t get much love in the advanced IT Solutions industry. A lot of people complain and fault it for its security problems. They say it doesn’t work as well as competing browsers.  With the release of Internet Explorer 9, it’s becoming clearer that the chances of competing browsers like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox beating Microsoft’s latest browser anytime soon seem unrealistic and most likely not going to happen.  Internet Explorer 9 might be in its infancy, but this new browser edition ensures companies will stick with Microsoft. Here’s some documented reasons:

1. It’s much faster

Internet Explorer 8 and other previous versions of the software loaded Web pages very slowly. In fact, Google’s Chrome browser easily bested Internet Explorer in speed tests. But Internet Explorer 9 is quite fast, thanks to Microsoft’s decision to utilize the computer’s graphics processor. The result is a browser that for most companies will deliver the speed needed.

2. It’s taking aim at Chrome

Speaking of speed, it’s clear that Internet Explorer 9 is taking aim at Google Chrome. The browser has taken on a cleaner, Chrome-like look, making it easier to navigate. Plus, it has ditched the search box, in favor of a single box that allows users to input a Website’s address or search for content. And by improving Internet Explorer 9’s speed, it seems clearer than ever that Microsoft views Google as its top competitor in the browser market.

3. Security hasn’t mattered in the past

Internet Explorer 6, for example, is widely considered one of the most insecure browsers ever released. But as those security problems persisted, companies continued to stick with Internet Explorer. So, while security is commonly a reason Internet Explorer critics give to try to persuade companies to switch from Microsoft’s browser, it would seem that most companies haven’t cared in the past. And if Internet Explorer 9 still suffers from security problems, it’s unlikely that many companies will switch.

4. It’s a vastly improved design

Internet Explorer 9 will likely deliver a far better experience to the average employee. Whereas previous versions of the browser were difficult for novice users to perform basic tasks, the new and improved design in Internet Explorer 9 provides power for advanced users and simplicity for novices. That alone should make Internet Explorer 9 a fine choice for companies looking to improve their browser productivity.

5. Solutions still rely on it

As more Web-based solutions make their way to the enterprise, Internet Explorer becomes even more important. In fact, several products currently in use by companies rely upon Internet Explorer to work. That alone makes Internet Explorer relevant. And it will likely ensure that Internet Explorer 9 will be the browser of choice for companies going forward.

6. The competition can’t cut it

Google’s Chrome and Mozilla Firefox are outstanding browsers. For consumers, they are arguably a better option than anything Microsoft puts out. But the corporate world is a different space. And for most enterprise customers, Chrome and Firefox can’t match Internet Explorer 9 in compatibility with enterprise applications, especially custom corporate applications. They don’t deliver the same experience.

7. The download manager is vastly improved

Microsoft made a major update to its download manager in Internet Explorer 9. When a user attempts to download something from the Web, a new “reputation” feature kicks in. It evaluates the source of the download, and if it doesn’t have a solid reputation, the warnings related to the download are made abundantly clear.  It’s not a guaranteed security safeguard, but it should go a long way in making IT Managers feel more comfortable giving employees access to the browser.

8. It’s an extension of Windows 7

Although Internet Explorer 9 won’t work with Windows XP, it’s a vastly improved extension of Windows 7. In fact, users can “pin” sites to their taskbar, giving them easy access to pages in the future. Those pinned items also boast added functionality in some cases. It seems that Microsoft is attempting to make its browser a viable component in Windows’ functionality. That’s a good thing from an employee-productivity perspective.

9. Microsoft’s cloud vision works for now

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has been saying for months that his company views the cloud differently than some other firms. He seems to think that users are going to need a rich client, like Internet Explorer 9, to interact with the cloud, rather than a thin client. Some would disagree, but for now, Microsoft seems correct in that assumption. Internet Explorer 9 will work exceptionally well for a user’s cloud services. It will provide the kind of functionality most companies are looking for related to their cloud endeavors.

10. It’s a familiar experience

In the end, Internet Explorer 9 isn’t so drastically different that users won’t feel at home. In fact, the browser provides a familiar experience that most enterprise employees would feel comfortable with and that’s a good thing. It should help Internet Explorer 9 enjoy the kind of success that Microsoft hopes it will achieve.