Myth Busting Monday: Office 365 Updates Will Break our Business Applications

Office365-Logo-and-textYour business depends on your employees being able to use business-critical applications.  You want and need your applications to be available and reliable, and the integration with Office needs to work.

Office 365 is Designed to Work with Your Business Applications

Microsoft is committed to Office 365 compatibility with the tools you use every day. They do this by:

  • Using one worldwide standard for desktop applications with the familiar tools you use and love, including Word, Excel, and Powerpoint.
  • Minimizing object model and API changes in updates and fixed that might interfere with other applications. Chances are, if your business application works with Office 2010, 2013, or 2016 today, it will work with Office 365.
  • Closely collaborating with leading software vendors, providing them with tools, and helping them test and maintain compatibility with Office 365.
  • Providing you with best-practice guidance for update management and software development.
  • Allowing side-by-side installation of Office 365 ProPlus with older versions of office, giving you and your software vendors time to address any issues.

With a clear commitment backed by action, Microsoft lowers the risk of compatibility issues with Office 365 in ways that exceed their historical support for MS Office.

This is the ninth post in a multi-part series designed to help companies better assess the opportunity and value of cloud-based solutions. Contact us to schedule a free, no-obligation Cloud Advisor session to discuss your priorities and plans.

Google Docs & Drive: Small New Features Make a Big Difference

docsGoogle continues to enhance the Google Apps suite with updates to Google Docs and Drive.

In Google Docs:

  • A new spell checker runs in real-time.  Marking misspelled words, the checker lets you review spelling via a traditional style tool, see spelling suggestions as you type, and setup automatic correction.   You can learn more here.
  • New presets for numbered and bullet lists provide more formatting options in Documents.  You can now also change the color, size, and style of individual bullets, as well as customize your own bullet styles.  See this Google+ post for an animated demo.

google driveIn Google Drive, the current release (1.11) of Google Drive for Mac or PC includes two new features:

  • On Windows, you can now have shortcuts to Documents, Sheets, and Slides on the desktop or in the Start Menu — making it easier to use Google Docs as a primary (or strong secondary) productivity suite.
  • You may now also select where your Google Drive sync folder is located and choose your own name for the folder.

While major in scope, these updates reflect Google’s process of continuous improvement based on user feedback and requests.  These changes improve ease of use and the end user experience.

On-Premise IT: The Bad, The Good, and the Ugly

We do not hate or dislike Microsoft.  But, looking at the company and its products, Microsoft often provides us great examples for some of the issues with in-house systems for small and mid-size enterprises.

Case in Point: According to ComputerWorld, Microsoft will issue 12 security updates for 57 vulnerabilities across Windows, Office, and Exchange.  In an extremely unusual move, 2 of the updates are for Internet Explorer (IE) from version IE6 through IE10.

The Bad:  The scope and severity of these updates are the largest since April, 2011:

  • 5 of the updates are “critical”, the rest are “important”.
  • The vulnerabilities addressed are in every version of Windows from XP Service Pack 3 and Vista through Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows RT.
  • Updates are needed for all current versions of MS Office and for MS Exchange.

The Good:  Microsoft is able to fix the vulnerabilities found, even though some of their products continue to fail security tests.

The Ugly:  While these updates make on-premise IT environments more secure, they come at a huge cost, particularly small and mid-size businesses.  Applying these updates means touching every server, workstation, terminal server, and Windows RT tablet — some more than once.   While larger companies may use images to update workstations, applying these updates still requires building and testing the image before distribution. Hours of work and multiple reboots mean time and money — even if the work is done after hours.

Perspective:  One of the major drawbacks of on-premise IT solutions for small and mid-size enterprises is exactly this kind of maintenance.  For hosted and cloud solutions designed for large-scale multi-tenancy, like Google Apps and others, pushing out updates is automated, fast, reliable.  And, these updates rarely if ever require local updates.

Moving to a cloud or hybrid computing environment can save you time, money, and aggravation, while providing a more secure, more reliable system.

Interested in learning more, read what companies that have moved to the cloud and Google Apps have to say in this white paper.