Business business applications chromebook Cloud google mobile apps obsolescence storage backup & dr

Office365 – How Low Can You Go ?

It seems to me that a tipping point has arrived for businesses large and small, many of which after having drastically cut back on their IT spend over the last few years now find themselves coasting into 2014 on the fumes and vapours of Windows XP and Office 2003/7.

Andrew Beardsmore is a new contributor to and this is his first post. He’s been obsessed by tech for two decades and has spent most of that time fixing everything from networks to netbooks. Now he’s sharing the knowledge, and the obsession.

I recently had a bit of a tweetup with @EvanKirstel regarding Microsoft’s amazing deal with Office365 (check it out at:

It seems to me that a tipping point has arrived for businesses large and small, many of which after having drastically cut back on their IT spend over the last few years now find themselves coasting into 2014 on the fumes and vapours of Windows XP and Office 2003/7.


Home users who extravagantly trotted off to Currys/PCWorld during their “hey, we’re going bust” sales and splurged on full versions of more recent MS Office software (though intending to only blow a few hundred quid on a chunky Windows 8 laptop) probably won’t have heard yet of Office365. They also may not have noticed those early ChromeBooks, or if they did they weren’t entirely convinced by the PCWorld sales folk when faced with what looked like Ubuntu. That is, Ubuntu without a hard drive…or apps.* Their new high capacity laptop hard drives, overflowing with growing photo libraries from flashy megamegapixel point-&-shoots, are already laughing at their puny free two gigabyte Dropbox accounts, and buying yet another discounted external USB hard drive ‘My Brick’ to backup and fill with all their pics and videos of school plays and homework projects, as well as every family member’s iPad/iPod/iPhone backup…well, it just seems so ‘2011’, doesn’t it?

Now these home users are included in this mini-cloud revolution also. (Not every household bought a NAS — though perhaps they should have — as they ARE expensive. Expensive, anyway, when compared to the wares peddled by Microsoft.)

In my opinion, the principles are broadly similar whether you are purchasing enterprise licensing or you are a home user “with a lot of stuff”.

  • Both need humongous space and/or backup and want a whizzy new version of Office.
  • Both want to be able to access it all whilst mobile (even if your mobile data provider hasn’t heard of your holiday home’s postcode, and thus offline editing is also needed).
  • Both want to share and collaborate.

With monthly offers that include an Office365 subscription (spanning multiple devices and user accounts) AND one terabyte of online storage now available for less than the cost of three lattes, just how cheap does it all need to be? And would you trust it if it got any cheaper ?

How does $7 a month sound? (In dollars because — Yup — stateside rollout first.) For this amount you can put Office365 on your PC and get a terabyte of storage thrown in. Make it $10 and you can install on five PCs and have as many as five user accounts (each with its own terabyte of online storage). A terabyte? That’s one thousand gigabytes for those of us with suntans and more interest in Wimbledon than “The IT Crowd” reruns.

Interestingly, Microsoft commissioned a recent survey and decided that about three quarters of us only have about thirteen gigabytes of ‘stuff’, so one thousand gigabytes should pretty much cover it. To be honest, though, this number sounds like it’s been picked more to justify their updated freemium offering of a fifteen gigabyte deal.

Many will forget about their Dropbox accounts, mothball their GoogleDrive accounts, lose the power supply plugs and mini USB cables for their ‘My Bricks’ (and never again dream of owning a NAS). They’ll take the plunge into subscriptions-based software purchasing** just for the great one terabyte ‘giveaway’ alone. Got a smartphone that you take pics on? How about letting it backup all those precious shots automatically to OneDrive (smile!).

Think about it. Never again will you need to go through a ‘fork-lift’ upgrade process between versions of Office — remember the advent of the blasted ribbon in Office 2007? — as your device will instead accept the more frequent but gradual improvements and changes in the same way your smartphone updates its apps whilst you sleep. It will backup and sync continuously, silently, all the time. If you’re a small to medium business, what this means is that the guy who takes the backup tapes home every night and puts a new one in every morning won’t have to continue to lie each time he forgets. Or you can rethink your price plan with MozyPro, or whoever. The AD-like control you get over the data it handles will sufficiently please both your sysadmin and your CIO/CISO.

Many will consider Microsoft’s new 1TB + Office365 $7 per month subscription a no-brainer. And, if you’re bulk buying for business, the deal gets even better, as according to the third link I offer below it is just $2.50 (yearly commitment). Such a huge saving is certain to ensure your continuing position with the company, that is if you can persuade your CFO. And if against all odds it turns out to be a rubbish idea and they fire you, well, they can just cancel your user subscription!

N.B. I wonder how many smaller partnerships and LLPs will be tempted to take the home licensing route on their mixed-usage mobile devices…pay the $10 five-user rate, out of guilt, and call it BYOD when it’s in the office?!

*Company-wide Chromebook deployment: Great way to to upgrade to a modern OS, get a new office productivity suite, AND equip your workforce with mobile devices for less than the price of a desktop refresh. I want to know more about the experiences of companies who have ‘gone Google’ in this manner. I like what I have seen so far with Google Appcare. However, having recently dropped their cloud offering’s pricing, I wonder how they feel about Microsoft’s new deal? To quote mine host, it’s “certainly warming up in the cloud wars”).

**Just quietly say ouch and forget it’s happening.

Chase the following links for specific details and price plans for Office365 and OneDrive:

Thanks for reading. You can find more on the subject of Office365 and similar tech at

broken gear End User

Breaking news – I bought a Microsoft PC – 5 broken laptops in our house

asus windows8 laptopI bought a new Microsoft PC. It isn’t really breaking news because I mentioned it in a post last week. Ordinarily I’d keep quiet about such an acquisition because it is an embarrassment to have to resort to such retro technology. I only bought it because I have a single application that needs to run on Windows.

However I am prompted to discuss it because in our house 4 out of 5 Microsoft laptops have gone wrong in one way or another over the last few weeks.

Kid4’s screen went – he has now inherited my old work Dell laptop which being a Dell i5 he is happy about. Has to use an external sound card though because the internal one is broken.

Kid3’s screen is getting decidedly dodgy. Not the screen itself but the hinges are coming apart. Kid3 is starting to think the unthinkable and is looking at Macbooks (urggglergnffs££££).

Kid2’s screen broke a few weeks ago. This follows a repair job we had to have done to get her fan to work. She has seen the light and purchased a Chromebook. The Microsoft laptop now acts as a lampstand or some other similarly useful function.

Last week we have had a flurry of communications from Kid1, the heir, who needs his laptop for work but which now doesn’t work. Something has gone wrong with Windows 8 that prevents it from properly booting. His only recourse has been to spend £110 tvm on installing a new hard drive and a new instance of Windows 8.

My wife Anne’s laptop picked up the Chatzum adware crap and is looking pretty terminal. From previous experience with similar problems it isn’t worth trying to fix. It is either going to be totally rebuilt using a copy of XP sourced from an as yet undetermined location or like as not consigned to the great electrical scrapyard in the sky. The new laptop, used largely for that single application has been designated as hers for the purpose of performing occasional tasks that aren’t so easy on her iPad. Uploading stuff to eBay mostly.

The problems with Kids 2 – 4 laptops are down to build quality. They were all reasonably cheap purchases.  This is no excuse in a mass production world where quality should improve not deteriorate with time. You might say “what do you expect with cheapo laptops” but who is going pay top dollar for a teenager’s computer? And when I say cheap I mean £350 to £400 cheap. These low cost laptops were still almost twice the price of a Chromebook.

The Chatzum problem is in my mind a legacy of an old order, a decaying Microsoft bug ridden world which will eventually disappear from our communal consciousness. Ditto Windows8.

In the meantime life goes on, broken hinge or no broken hinge. I haven’t had the Chromebooks long enough to make comparisons but they are lighter, have solid state hard drives and just feel better and if one does break it isn’t going to break the bank to get a new one.

The age of the Windows PC is coming slowly but inexorably to an end. In a previous post I forecast that the death date to be sometime in 2022. Gut feel is that it is still on track although as the end approaches things tends to accelerate, like falling off the edge of a cliff.

What is interesting about that new PC-less world is that all applications will have moved online. The only reason Kid4 needs a PC is to run games. The day surely can’t be far off where all his games are available as a service online. Many of them already are. Another argument for having hardware is for video processing. I already use for my photo editing. Why shouldn’t there be an equivalent service available for videos. Probably already is.

Having everything in the cloud makes so much more sense from many aspects – reliability, cost and convenience. All I have to do is make sure that there is adequate connectivity. I realise that this will immediately raise the hackles of the rural broadband activists amongst you but that is a completely different discussion.

The PC is dying. Long live the cloud.

Other really good reads but totally unassociated with this subject:

Spot the difference – Brandon Butterworth
A day at the races

Business ecommerce obsolescence

Windows XP ATM failure

There’s a Post Office down the road from my mam and dad’s place with a Barclays ATM. Yesterday I strode up to said ATM with a view to extracting some cash. Totally legally of course.

Imagine my surprise when I was confronted with a screen showing what appeared to be Windows XP booting up. Wow I thought and reached for the gun in my holster phone in my pocket to capture the moment in pixels. I was too slow. I’d never have made a good cowboy.

By the time I had unlocked the phone and fired up the camera (checked the film, taken a light reading, adjusted the focus etc) all I got was a curt apology stating that the cashpoint machine was currently dysfunctional and would I mind awfully trying the one at the Isle of Man Bank down the road.

Disappointed I turned my back on the machine and walked dejectedly towards the IoM bank. I thought that might have been a scoop. “XP brings down global banking system”. Wasn’t going to be the same without the photographic evidence.

I parked the thought whilst we spent the afternoon enjoying the delights of Onchan Park on its opening day of the season. Crazy golf at its best. The pitch and put and the bowling were closed due to waterlogged greens but that didn’t spoil our fun.

This morning my thoughts returned to the global banking crisis but research suggests that nothing untoward had happened. No doom laden headlines. Shock horror probe. Must have been a local issue.

I did find a few timely articles discussing the fact that all the world’s ATMs appear to run on XP. Speculation as to whether this was a ticking time bomb together with quotes from Microsoft suggesting that a move to Windows 8.1 would be very sensible from a security perspective. No news at all really.

One does wonder what the next generation of ATM o/s will be. Microsoft doesn’t exactly feel right but there again it would probably be easiest from a backwards compatibility perspective. I’m not that interested. It’s Sunday morning and I’m typing this post with my thumb on my droid. There is bacon to be cooked.

Easy like Sunday morning…

Business mobile connectivity phones

I see Microsoft are going to buy the Nokia handset business

I found out about 5am this morning via Twitter (under the bedsheets!). Between 5am and the time I got up, around 7.30ish is was being retweeted by all and sundry and Rory CJ was talking about it on the BBC Radio4 Today programme.

By the time I left for work I felt it was old news and had already been done to death. The line of discussion was “Will Stephen Elop be the next Microsoft CEO?” Tbh that isn’t really news and the BBC was certainly unable to do any more than anyone else which was just pure speculation.

Whether Microsoft makes a go of the handset business is neither here nor there in my mind. I’m not really bothered. I’d say it will take them years to catch up with Apple and Samsung/Google if  they can do it at all.

What I think is worth a moment of reflection is the passing of Nokia as a mobile handset vendor. The brand must now inevitably fade away. In my business life I have had very few different vendors’ models of mobile phone (though that is starting to change with what feels to be an unsustainable pace of new product intros) and for most of that time my phone was a Nokia.

Nokia represented quality and had the best User Interface.  Although  I still own a Nokia, a Lumia 920 handset it is very much my secondary phone. I don’t like the UI or the weight of it. I only got it to try out Windows8. The last Nokia phone I can claim to have been happy with was the N97, a while ago now, it seems.

There are always examples around of major multinational companies with big market leads that fail to move with the times. Microsoft is in one of those periods now of trying to reinvent itself. It isn’t there yet.

In the meantime Nokia has failed to keep up and is now going through the mobile phone equivalent of the death roll. Stand back and watch from a safe distance.  RIP the Nokia mobile phone.

End User internet online safety security

The return of the “virus on your Microsoft PC” scam #speedytechies @TeamViewer

The “you have a virus on your Microsoft PC” scam is back. I thought they had locked up the people responsible and this was dead. Like everything related to the internet crime – spam, botnets they always find a way back.

I got home from work on Friday and took a call from Anna of They apparently have thousands of staff servicing thousands of customers every day despite the fact that the website is only around 3 months old. Pretty impressive business growth.

Either that or Anna is lying and she doesn’t work for speedytechies. She sounded as if she was from India or maybe the Philippines – that general part of the world anyway. is owned by a small business based at a residential address in Houston Texas. You can easily find out lots of info about the business and its owner by shelling out a few dollars to an online resource that does this kind of thing. Not worth it because the chances are the scammer has nothing to do with this guy. Slightly suspicious that the website is only 3 months old though.

Anna wanted me to go to so that she could take over my laptop to check out the virus. looks like a legit site though it would be interesting to audit their list of paying customers to get a trail back to the scammers.

Anna gave me a phone number to call back if I had a problem: 18007137734. The line with Anna was not great so it might be wrong and don’t know where it terminates as I’ve not tried ringing it. Her line quality kept disappearing so she was probably using Skype or some similar OTT service.

I guess it would be possible to trace where Anna was calling from and compile a list of times that her ilk had tried the scam. It isn’t easy though for a punter and it would take a concerted effort from a number of stakeholders. It would be easier if the whole world was VoIP but it isn’t. Also the level of individual harm that will probably accrue from a single incident is not worth the effort it would take. This would have to be coordinated on a wide scale to build up a body of evidence for cross border efforts/cooperation to kick in.

That’s all for now. Ciao.

Apps Business mobile apps spam

Slightly disappointing email from Microsoft :) #joshfire

Just had a slightly disappointing junk email from Microsoft. I don’t normally bother opening this “legitimate spam” that pushes a company’s products but the subject line for this one was “Proud partners of the 2013 British & Irish Lions tour to Australia”.

You might guess where my thinking was here. Maybe it was a free draw for a trip to Australia for the Lions Tour. I’m in I thought, clicked and downloaded the pictures. The disappointment came when I read the following:

“Your First Windows 8 app in minutes

Joshfire is an online tool that Microsoft have partnered with to enable you to create a free and simpler than ever Windows 8 app for your business. Simply select a template, then add your existing sources of online content – Flickr for photos, YouTube for videos, blogs, social feeds and so on.

Even better, for the next 6 weeks Joshfire is free. And what’s more, if you’re one of the first 250 to create an app with Joshfire, we will give you a lovely Microsoft British & Irish Lions commemorative toy. ”

Am I alone in thinking that the Microsoft marketing is somewhat off the mark here? A there can’t be that many people developing apps for Windows 8 and B is a lovely commemorative toy the right incentive?

Well as I write this I’m changing my tune from contemptuous disappointment to idle nay vague curiosity so that I can see what it’s all about. After all I do have a Windows 8 PC and a Nokia Lumia 920 Windows 8 phone. I just clicked on the “Create your first Windows 8 app” link. Oops. Got the following screen:

joshfireMy vague curiosity changed back to a disinterested disappointment. No lovely commemorative toy for me eh? Also ah well! I will make it on another Lions tour some day. I went to South Africa on the last one with the Commons and Lords Rugby Club. Had a great time.

Ciao baby.

Business Cloud virtualisation

The Psychological Challenge of the Cloud

Big platforms such as Google (Drive), Apple (iCloud) and latterly Microsoft (SkyDrive) are driving customers towards cloud services. The move to use these resources is almost certainly inevitable, for the consumer. The constraints are largely down to cost and privacy concerns. For the business user replace the word “privacy” with “security”.

I buy into the future. I have almost universal connectivity, at a price. I also have a growing amount of data being stored on my laptop. My data is currently backed up to two external hard drives, one at home and one in the office. The time is fast approaching where the laptop will run out of hard drive space. It is only a year old so I’m not going to replace it just to get a bigger hard drive.

It’s getting close to decision time on a cloud based strategy.

End User phones

Android, Windows 8 – Windows 8, Android – just like that!

Samsung Windows8 and Android phonesCars always seem to look the same these days don’t they? That’s because they are all designed with optimum aerodynamic efficiency in mind. The result is a bit boring by and large and very challenging for an advertising industry that has to resort to increasingly off the wall ideas to differentiate their client’s product.

The mobile handset industry has to some extent evolved along similar lines. After years of trial and error there are only a few mechanical designs that make sense, notwithstanding the fact that manufacturers keep suing each other for copying their rounded edge or single button.

Here are two Samsung phones. Clearly one is Windows8 and one is Android. The only real differentiation is in the software running on them. The time can’t be so far off when all phones are pretty much the same, probably made in the same factories and with well established software and from a few global players. The applications sets will be pretty much identical on each platform.

All that will be left will be the challenge of how to differentiate one phone from the other – the pitch for cool factor. I was at a meeting yesterday where one presenter was clearly an Apple and Facebook enthusiast. I am not. I don’t trust either organisation. I am a Google and Twitter fan.

There is no real reason why I should trust Google and Twitter any more than Apple and Facebook or even Microsoft for that matter. They are all after my money one way or another.

So that’s it. The future of the mobile phone. I’d like go fast stripes on mine please…

4g Business

4 G E E L T E 4 ME?

4G EE LTEEE is doing a good job at building up market expectation. Today the mobile network operator launched its pricing plans, available from the end of this month.

Consumers can have unlimited calls and texts with 500MB of data for £36. Remembering that I used 60MB of data in one minute on the O2 LTE trials I suspect that not many people will stay on this plan. The options are:

500MB £36
1GB £41
3GB £46
5GB £51
8GB £56

I assume that this comes with a phone though it isn’t clear. Their site suggests you can get the Nokia Lumia 920, 820, Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE and Note 2 LTE, HTC One XL and the iPhone5 plus a few other also rans (sorry).

If you use up your data allowance you won’t be able to access the internet until you buy a data add-on (ok). It isn’t entirely clear but it looks like the cost of a data add on is £6 for 500MB or £15 for 2GB so it makes sense to get your plan right in the first place.

I note there is a roaming package for £5 a month though this doesn’t seem to apply to data which in my mind is what I am most likely to use when roaming – checking restaurants, bars, local attractions (library locations etc).

The speeds are quoted at 8 – 12Mps on average.

It also looks as if they will not be blocking VoIP

Business UC voip

What’s your Lync address?

Lync video call screenshot with Terry Bowers and Trefor DaviesThis good looking boy in the screenshot is Terry Bowers, Head of Professional Services at Timico Technology Group business Redwood Telecommunications. We are obviously engaged in serious conversation as neither of us is smiling.

The client itself is a feature of Microsoft’s Lync, something we decided to play with at Redwood following the UC Expo (UC = Unified Communications) trade show earlier this year. Redwood now have it installed at a number of their customers and it is regularly used in communications between these companies and also with suppliers.

We are using an all in one Lync box from Active Communications, This is a lovely appliance that removes the need to deploy the complexity of servers1 that has been Lync (note innovative & brand new collective noun). ACS have not only integrated Lync but have done it using virtualisation which means you can deploy it within your own virtual infrastructure. Also it scales very nicely.

I use a number of multimedia clients such as the one shown in the screenshot. There’s Timico’s own Genband based Outlook client, Google and Skype. All are used to talk to different communities and whilst there are some differences they typically all work well.

A few observations arise:

End User gadgets H/W

Who wants a Microsoft Surface?

Microsoft’s new Surface tablet is all over the news today. Google it – you don’t need a link from me. Apparently it is going to be available in October. That will be 2 1/2 years after the introduction of the iPad.

I can see it fitting into the corporate market – it will just be another laptop type device that will have all the standard security and device management features an IT manager craves. It will aslo fit nicely with Lync – the Microsoft Unified communications product. Also note that they haven’t delivered it yet.

I would imagine however that it won’t be that attractive in the consumer market. Sounds expensive and high end – the iPad already does that.  It needs to be cheap and it doesn’t sound cheap.

I would like more tablets scattered around the house but they need to be down at the £100 level.

I get the feeling that it could be quite a crunch time for Microsoft this Christmas. Will the ability to throw a seemingly endless pot of cash at it make the difference?

What do you think?

Engineer UC voip

Home thoughts from #UCExpo

Apparently during WW2 in the USA diners became hubs for social networking. Somewhere for lone workers finishing a late shift perhaps to go and chat to someone. At UC Expo in Olympia this week this was replicated and brought up to date by giving the diner actors  iPads and laptops to play with. As an artistic creation it was great. However I can’t for the life of me remember whose stand it was so unless it was a charitable act in support of “social networking” they might want to change who they use to design their exhibition stands to make themselves more memorable!

A few things did stand out at the show. You could not escape the Microsoft effect because they must have taken up a quarter of the floor space. Microsoft was effectively standing on a chair in the middle of a room and shouting “you have to take us seriously”. Microsoft was selling Lync and its ecosystem.

Lync, the Microsoft Unified Comms play – Instant Messaging, voice etc, has moved on significantly since we saw them at UC Expo this time last year. Not, I suspect, the basic functionality, but the number of vendors supporting products that are compatible with Lync – receptionist consoles, call centre applications etcPolycom video conferencing unit on display in Microsoft village at UCExpo

I didn’t get the impression that it was being used in any great volume – the voice bit at least but Lync desktop clients are shipped free with a Microsoft Enterprise license – throw enough seeds… Coincidentally as I write someone called Barry from Microsoft has just called to see if we would be interested in rolling out Lync. We will certainly kick the tyres. They clearly are spending a lot of marketing dollars on this right now.

Altigen SmartStation - converts smartphone into deskphone
In the Microsoft village a couple of gadgets caught my attention. One is the Polycom video conference unit – this looks sufficiently space age to be cool. The other was the  Altigen Fusion SmartStation and MaxMobile smartphone app. The smartphone app runs both cellular voice and VoIP and connects to the SmartStation using Bluetooth. The SmartStation then behaves as a normal telephone handset whilst simultaneously charging the mobile device.

This is the way ahead. Altigen also have plastics coming alonga couple of Nokia Lumia handsets to support various Android devices and, if my memory is right, BlackBerry. All it now needs are keyboard, monitor and mouse ports and we are done – the PC is a thing of the past.

Also had a play with a couple of Lumia phones demonstrated by an overly enthusiastic guy who had been trained up especially for this show. I have to say the UI and I didn’t gel though it does take some time to get use to a new operating system.

Finally Powernet were demoing ViBE which in my mind is theViBE - the ultimate in bonding and QoS tech for ADSL lines used to carry both VoIP and data ultimate in bonding and QoS technology for ADSL circuits destined to carry both voice and data. Check it out here.

Powernet, which is a Timico Technology Group company was the only ISP at the show as far as I could see and had a very productive time of it.

That’s all folks.

End User mobile connectivity phones

Lumia is light – a new dawn for Nokia?

Nokia World in London October 2011Nokia CEO Stephen Elop launches Lumia smart phones at Nokia World Just finished watching the NokiaWorld webcast.  I don’t watch many of these but last week I also happened to dip into the RIM event and it must be said that there is a world of difference between the two. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop appears to be one of the better front men of the big mobile and platform providers though the language he used was very carefully chosen and was filled with sentences that seemed to me to be the product of long days in the marketing department meeting room.

Nokia today launched the Lumia range of smart phones. In Elop’s words “Lumia is light – a new dawn for Nokia”. This is the “big one”. The one that has to work and which has several shirts and a house riding on it.

Based on the Windows Phone OS the Lumia has 6 times more marketing budget

Apps Cloud End User xaas

Computing As A Service – family bundle #CAAS #Tesco #Acer #Microsoft

I know I said I might well have bought my last laptop for the family but my wife’s 10 year old PC is spinning the last few thousand rotations of its hard drive and software is starting to malfunction.  So she is getting our daughter’s 7 year old perfectly good machine and we are buying the final year 6th form girl a laptop.

The Tesco website has an Acer 5742 for £399. It has an Intel Core i3, a 750gig hard drive and 4 gigs of RAM.  The crunch though is the copy of Microsoft Office 2010 home and business £204.22. She ain’t getting that.

It’s a graphic illustration that the money isn’t in the hardware but in the software. You do also have to wonder

End User gadgets

Typing can be bad for your health if you use a keyboard #Microsoft

Microsoft health warning on keyboardDoing my usual plugging in the laptop routine this morning I noticed a label attached to the Microsoft keyboard with a health warning.  It was one of those Alice In Wonderland type moments. Something like the time when Alice spotted a cup with a label saying “drink me”.

I’ve had the Microsoft keyboard a few months ago but only today noticed the label. This directed me to read a health warning under the keyboard and blow me down there it is as bold as you like on a 2″ by 3″ label (that’s 5cm x 7.5cm to European readers).

I take these warnings seriously and immediately gave myself a mental once over to make sure that I had no symptoms ofanother Microsoft keyboard health warning hand, arm, shoulder or neck discomfort that might be ascribed to a poor posture when typing at the Microsoft keyboard. To my horror I found I was suffering from all the problems warned of on the label.   These are however more likely caused by a lifetime of bodily neglect rather than the Microsoft keyboard itself.

Anyway there isn’t much point to this post other than it starts off another busy week.

All the best.

Editor’s  note –  I’m not sure there was anything to suggest that Alice herself had only just noticed the cup and that it had been there in front of her very eyes for months.

PS I am far more likely to have problems with what I type than how I type 🙂 I also wondered whether the twinge in my knee might also be down to using the keyboard but decided probably not.

End User mobile connectivity

Nokia gets ready for winter offensive

Bumped in to an old colleague (platform 1 Newark Northgate – location, not name of old colleague) who now has Nokia as his biggest customer. Pontificating that business might be slow I was surprised to hear otherwise.

Of course Nokia still does very well in developing parts of the world. His main excitement though was regarding “the big Microsoft launch” coming apparently at the end of October.

The view from the Nokia ecosystem is that this launch is going to be highly successful. Of course they need to believe this but the argument is that the product looks great and that Nokia is relatively unencumbered by patent litigation. The Finnish company holds many key core patents in the mobile technology space.

It sometimes feels as if the companies we support because they have developed technologies that have changed our lives are strangling each other in the court rooms. Everyone watching wishes they would just get on and continue to innovate.

Although they are currently not up there in the smart phone premier league I have never totally written Nokia off (almost have mind you). It looks as if the battalions are fuelling in the wooded hills around Helsinki preparing for a winter offensive. These days battles are fought in the full glare of the media and this is one where we will all have ringside seats.

Wallets at the ready…

Apps chromebook Cloud End User

An Everyday Story of a Family, its Clunky Old Computer, and Cloud Based Services

My wife’s PC has nearly ended it’s useful life. It was bought for our oldest son at the age of 10. He is now about to start his second year at university and is already on his second laptop.

During the intervening ten or so years the PC has been flattened and rebuilt a couple of times. For a few years it was the “family” computer and thus had every kind of game added and removed and goodness knows what other software.

Now it is clunky, takes ages to boot up and a source of frustration for the love of my life. To make things worse last weekend my daughter did something to it and now Microsoft Office does not work. The original CD was lost some time ago. Doesn’t sound good.

Last night I went all cloud based services on the dodgy old thing.

I set Mrs Davies up with a

Business mobile connectivity

Nokia cancels 2011 – short term outlook not good apparently

Bit of a dramatic statement that. 2011 cancelled by Nokia.  What they have done is decided not to publish any more forecasts for this year because apparently their sales  numbers are so bad.

The cavalry is on the way and if they strain their ears they can hear the sound of the bugle blowing the charge. However they haven’t arrived yet.

There is a long way to go and in order to succeed Microsoft will have to throw huge amounts of cash at the problem with no guarantees of a win.  It is interesting to watch this play out and I’m glad its not my money.

As I write Nokia stock is down 14.76% on the day. More here on ZDnet.

Business voip

Microsoft to pay a lot of money for Skype? – back to dot com bubble days?

Rumours abound this morning on the Twittersphere that Microsoft is about to announce the acquisition of Skype for $8.5Bn. That’s 10x 2010 revenues, a year in which Skype reported a loss of $7m! That loss itself was a dramatic reduction on the previous year but Microsoft is still betting on big growth ahead.

This is all very good news for entrepreneurs who invested in private communications companies way back in 2003/2004 and whose businesses are actually profitable :).

I’m not sure however how the Skype brand fits with Microsoft. Skype is associated with free or very cheap. Microsoft is expensive although not as expensive as Apple. Microsoft is desperate to improve its web offering which Skype does for it.

Skype has a big overlap with MSN. Is this a problem? Do people still use MSN? Skype also overlaps with Lync. How will that fit? Lync for medium and large enterprise, Skype for small? Or will they just run Skype as a separate entity in which case where will the leverage come from? Note that only 2% of search engine traffic to this blog is from Bing!

I don’t have the answers. Also I’m sure there are many more questions than this. What I can say is that life is far from boring when it comes to the internet and the world wide web. More, I’m sure, in due course.

PS I don’t normally indulge in rumour mongering but this seems likely to break today and I will be out and about and not in a position to post to the blog. So I’m getting in early!

End User online safety scams security

Phishing by”Microsoft” engineers

I’m getting reports of increased levels of phishing attempts on broadband customers. People get a call from someone purporting to either work for Microsoft or on their behalf. The flavour of the calls go something like this:

  • “We are working on a password security breach”
  • “We are working with Microsoft and your ISP to increase your broadband speeds
  • “We have identified a problem with one of your servers and can fix it for £250”

By and large they want you to click on a link and then of course “you’ve been had”. Unfortunately as in many aspects of life on the internet the only real way to avoid being had is by being internet savvy. There is no quick fix.

Business voip

ITSPA event just two weeks to go #VoIP #polycom #microsoft

It’s only two weeks to the Internet Telephony Service Providers’ Association (ITSPA) Summer Forum due to take place on Tuesday 13th July at the Polycom offices, Old Broad Street, London.

These events, chaired by yours truly, have become “must attend” occasions for ITSPs in the UK. On this occasion we have a Keynote Speech from Microsoft, an update from BT Openreach on their NGN VoIP plans, a talk from Polycom and a panel discussion on “Wholesale “VoIP. There is also an update from Matt Townend from Illume on the “State of the Union” in the VoIP market.

The wholesale panel has representation from the leading wholesalers in this space: Gamma, Magrathea, BT IP Exchange and X-Connect.

If you want to come there are still some places left though these things usually sell out nearer to the day so you need to be quick. Email [email protected] for more info.

broadband Business internet

Broadband ISP Life: #Microsoft Update meets #WorldCup

The broadband ISP industry woke up yesterday morning to a spike on their collective networks. I had people down to my office asking whether the World Cup had started a new trend in online TV watching. It undoubtedly reinforces the trend but this time the bandwidth rush was due to a Microsoft Update and not the football.

The football is starting to have an effect though – viewing figures during the opening ceremony were up around 30% over normal video watching. This didn’t have any ill effects on the quality of the experience at least at my end.

30 minutes into the opening game between the Hosts South Africa the score remains nil nil and the video traffic has grown by about 60% above the norm.  This is not as many people as were watching the shennanigans the day after the general election (although it almost is).  But this is not England playing here…

Just to remind readers the concern is that online viewing is going to flood the internet and affect regular users. Warnings have been issued by many ISPs and content providers. Looks like our pipes are ok at the moment although as predicted we have hit a record high in terms of bandwidth usage. If you are making a VoIP call or sending email etc you should still be fine.

You do wonder at Microsoft’s timing though, releasing an update just before the biggest demand event the internet will have seen to date. I guess there are geeks everywhere.  Football? What’s football?

broadband Business End User internet

Broadband ISP Life: #Microsoft Update Meets #WorldCup

The broadband ISP industry woke up yesterday morning to a spike on their collective networks. I had people down to my office asking whether the World Cup had started a new trend in online TV watching. It undoubtedly reinforces the trend but this time the bandwidth rush was due to a Microsoft Update and not the football.

The football is starting to have an effect though – viewing figures during the opening ceremony were up around 30% over normal video watching. This didn’t have any ill effects on the quality of the experience at least at my end.

30 minutes into the opening game between the Hosts South Africa the score remains nil nil and the video traffic has grown by about 60% above the norm.  This is not as many people as were watching the shennanigans the day after the general election (although it almost is).  But this is not England playing here…

Just to remind readers the concern is that online viewing is going to flood the internet and affect regular users. Warnings have been issued by many ISPs and content providers. Looks like our pipes are ok at the moment although as predicted we have hit a record high in terms of bandwidth usage. If you are making a VoIP call or sending email etc you should still be fine.

You do wonder at Microsoft’s timing though, releasing an update just before the biggest demand event the internet will have seen to date. I guess there are geeks everywhere.  Football? What’s football?

Business Cloud google

Some Clouds are Better than Others

I’ve been thinking about clouds. It’s a very trendy thing to do at the moment. It’s something you notice about trade shows. A trade show will evolve its name in line with what the organisers think will bring in the punters.

For example in the UK “VoIP for Business” became “VoIP for Business incorporating Unified Communications” which then became “Unified Communications”. I fully expect Unified Communications to morph into “Unified Communications with cloudy bits”. It will probably be the same underlying list of exhibitors.

Anyway the popularity of the cloud buzzword is of course because the world is moving into the cloud. The cloud is still for most an ethereal place that is difficult to get the grey matter around. It appears on the advertising copy of so many vendors how do you decide how to take advantage of it. This is the case whether you are an end user, a business or a potential provider of cloud services.

Consumers will use a few branded services such as Google, Microsoft, Amazon etc. Business however needs something different, even it is just a better service level. So at the moment I think the business world is manoeuvring to understand how the bits of the fluffy jigsaw fit together.

They will end up dealing with specialist cloud integrators. This will provide the differentiation and some clouds will definitely stand out as being better than others.

As it stands you need to be able to keep your feet on the ground and head just above the clouds so that you can look around and see where these better clouds are starting to form 🙂

Business Cloud internet Cloud Workshop: A Final Word from the CIO Council Meeting

So should you worry about using a service — one such as’s, for instance — in “The Cloud”?

Ten years ago Oracle was ahead of its time when it tried to kill off Microsoft with the Network Computer. At that time it was a combination of the cost and reliability of the underlying network together with the lack of applications to run on it that likely killed it off.

Today these barriers have all but disappeared. Connectivity is orders of magnitude cheaper and the number of uses for the network has exploded.

WordPress, for example, is the platform that I use to write this blog. WordPress has 6,760 plugins available for download and they have indeed been downloaded 52,448,569 times to date.

A plug-in or widget is a small application that is used to run on a platform to enable certain functionality. In the case of these applications provide the functionality in the right hand column – twitter feed, add/subscribe etc. I also use applications invisible to the reader such as wordpress seo, search engine optimisation.

I think nothing of using WordPress which is a totally cloud based application, unlike Dreamweaver for example, which at one time I used to use to design websites and which resided on my PC.

So as a final note on the CIO council meeting last week I thought I’d look more into their cloud offering. The platform has have 200+ native apps and 550+ partner apps. Not as many as WordPress but there again many of the WordPress plug-ins will never see the light of a real website and they are free.

The applications that are used, however, are of major interest to business, at least collectively. They must be because has 63,200 paying customers with 81M+ lines of code with 16M+ customizations – modification that integrate the platform with other services used by these customers.

New WordPress plug-ins appear daily whilst restricts itself to three releases a year – coming up to release number 30 this Autumn. In the business world a software release needs to be bug free as possible and fully tested which is certainly not always the case with open source equivalents.

So it is clear to me that the move to the cloud is well underway and anyone looking at their information roadmap strategy should have this at the forefront of their mind. Of course this isn’t going to kill off Microsoft anytime soon…

Archived Business

TechTrack success again for Timico

I’m excited to tell the world that Timico achieved 23rd position in this year’s Sunday Times/Microsoft TechTrack 100 League Table of the fastest growing tech companies in the UK.

Last year we were an amazing 4th and the year before that we were 10th. The table is based on 3 years compound growth so to be in the top 100 for three years running is a fantastic feat let alone three years in the top 23!

We still have a fair bitof work to do to get where we want to be which is to be the number one partner for businesses looking for communications services in the UK but I’d say that the message from the Sunday Times must be that we are very much heading in the right direction.

Archived Business

Job vacancies at Timico

We are currently looking for ISP first line tech support engineers and ADSL/IP provisioning staff to join our expanding teams in Newark. 

Timico is bucking the recessionary trend with a growing managed networks business. If 21CN, IP, VoIP, MPLS, co-location, Virtual Machines sound exciting then take a look at these jobs. Please contact Timico if you are interested. Experience would be great. Technogeeks with a professional attitude and a friendly nature are ideal.

This is clearly a job ad. I’m not really interested in flowering up the jobs, “great career potential” etc but I will say that our first tech support engineer now runs several tech support teams and has team leaders reporting into him.

This is a foot on the first rung that could progress you into Network Operations, Tech Solutions/Network Design, Technical Sales or any other of the many disciplines in the fast moving communications world. If you are good the sky’s the limit.

In 2008 Timico was 4th in the Sunday Times/Microsoft Techtrack 100 table of the fastest growing private companies in the tech sector. We also won the ITSPA award for the Best Unified VoIP Solution.

If you can get in quick you might make it in time for our Summer Barbecue:-). Work hard play hard.

End User internet

I see that Microsoft has launched “bing” as its latest offering to compete with Google.  I checked and this isn’t April 1st so it must be true.  All I can say is it better be good at what it does because the name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue and it will need real customer loyalty for people to go to the site.

Ping would have been hugely better but no chance of getting that domain name.  Microsoft will have spent millions researching the name!

I wonder whether bing is the Urdu word for white elephant?  I’ll check.

Business voip hardware

Ideal mobile VoIP client runs on a Blackberry

  1. Runs on a Blackberry. In my experience Microsoft push email isn’t reliable enough and I am seriously thinking of changing back to RIM
  2. Can call using any available network – wifi, GSM or 3G – deally can detect least cost route or allow you to set preferred network connection
  3. Has the same inbound number as my work desktop phone so I can seamlessly take the same calls wherever I am – this realistically has to be a fixed line number as you have to be a mobile operator to do it otherwise.
  4. Detects the presence status of my friends and allows me to send Instant Messages to any network.
  5. Active directory lookup for corporate users to avoid having to store all the numbers locally.
  6. High definition voice codec available for use on wide bandwidth connections (ie wifi)
  7. High quality speakerphone.
  8. Multiple VoIP subscriptions so that I can have both work and personal services on the same device.
  9. Front and back facing video (I’m not sure whether I’m kidding myself here!)
  10. All the usual touchscreen/music/GPS/integration with Twitter/Facebook and other social networking websites gadgetty stuff.
  11. Unlimited battery life (hey – I did say ideal mobile VoIP client 🙂 )

If anyone wants to add to this list feel free to drop me a line or leave a comment.

Business internet

Microsoft breaking down walls whilst Opera is in the cloud

I attended Wireless 09 at Olympia today.  There were a number of talks I thought worth hearing including one by James McCarthy, Microsoft’s Head of Business Marketing. This one turned out to be a bit of a disappointment.  Probably my fault really as I was looking for details of Microsoft Mobile Applications and how they interact with the desktop.

Instead we were treated to a high level philosophical talk on removing barriers in business based on some research that Micrsoft had commissioned. Typical big company, big marketing budget stuff I thought.

I think most of the audience thought this too.  The chap next to me fell asleep and there were initially no questions.  When the questions did arrive they were on standard Microsoft products with no real link to what had been the subject of the talk.

Ah well.  James McCarthy incidentally, not to do him down, was a good speaker and was the spitting image of actor Hugh Grant.

The previous talk was by Jon S. von Tetzchner, Co-Founder and CEO of Opera Software.  Opera is an interesting company and I hadn’t realised the size that they have grown to- 675 people according to von Tetzchner.

Their browser business is based on the fact that all applications are moving into the cloud and every device needs to be able to access these apps. I doubt anyone would argue otherwise but he did put up some interesting statistics.

It was suggested that back in 1997 80% of all Applications were based on someone’s PC, with the 20% balance being web based. By 2007 he said that his had changed to only 15% being based on the PC and 85% on the web. Whilst adding a caveat that his was not a scientific survey it certainly does underline the trend.