4th Quarter Project Planning

We are in the process of wrapping up two major site upgrades in August and still have three very large projects on the books for the 4th Quarter 2015. Those will occupy the greater part of September and October. Additionally, heading into 2016 we have a business-partner project in the works that will likely involve a lot of our time as it is key to the next phase of our business operations.

Several clients are already planning business relocations and/or facility expansions beginning next month and running through December 2015. Remember that once the holiday season starts, things get hectic both personally and professionally for all of us. Standard support issues and things like new PC units, new printers and copiers are manageable and don’t usually fall into this forecast category.

So, based on time and resource availability, now is the time to let us know if you have any plans for tasking at your site specifically for October through December and if possible, anything major expected to occur the first quarter of 2016.

Last minute project notifications will very likely be deferred to the new year.

Lab Report- Windows 10 Testing

Here’s where we are on Windows 10 at this point in time.

  1. I’ve taken a fully loaded OptiPlex with Windows 7 Pro 64-bit, Office 2010, Visio and several other installed programs and verified that the Windows 7 configuration is functional.
  2. This was a standalone unit not cliented to a network.
  3.  Additionally, the system had an NVidia GeForce 8400 PCI Express video card in place.
  4. I ran a straight Windows 10 upgrade on that unit. It took some time to do it but once it was done, Office and all the programs worked except for Trend Micro. We expect a version update soon to correct that problem.
  5. The NVidia video also works just fine although may on the user forums reported issues even with this particular card version…
  6. Windows Media Center and DVD playback are no longer available under Windows 10. You’ll need replacements for those and I’ll update you on what works and what doesn’t in a future posting.
  7. Floppy disk support is out… if you still use floppies… well, no comment.
  8. The desktop will take some time to figure out. It almost makes Windows 8 desktop management look better… almost.
  9. Internet Explorer is there (somewhere) but Spartan takes over for browsing. Expect a future update to wipe out IE11 altogether.
  10. If you like Bing, you are in luck. If you don’t… I’m trying to figure out how to change the default Search to something more useable and less Microsoft.

As for Windows 8.1 Pro Update, all the same things reported above apply to that OS setup, as well.

The one thing I ran into that makes no sense is this… units running Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit with no problem suddenly can’t run Windows 10. It turns out that the reason is the Pentium D (true dual core processors) are based on the older Intel Prescott structure and those processors do not have a specific bit of code available that Windows 10 requires. It appears most Core2 and Core 2 Duo processors will likely be compatible but it takes time for me to do a load on a unit having those components and then attempt the upgrade. Expect no issues with any Core i3, i5 or i7 processor.

I checked the client PC list and found that something close to 200 units out there will see this issue if attempting to upgrade to Windows 10. The only solution in the future is new hardware so if you’re running Windows 7 successfully now, plan to stretch that OS lifeline out as far as possible.

Next post update on testing will be Windows 10 installation from scratch and suitable replacements for missing functions (Media Player, Search engines, etc.).

Support Requests and End User Ticket Entries

Since the business downsizing last October, we have been constantly busy wrapping up tasks from last year and handling new business additions at the same time. As there are only two of us here now, we do occasionally have something that manages to slip through the cracks (although we catch those pretty quickly).

In an effort to eliminate that problem, we will be setting up a Client Portal for each site where the Primary or other designated person will have access to our AutoTASK ticketing console. That means that you’ll be able to create your own tickets or other support requests and also review the progress and support details as those tickets are worked.

We’ll still be handling standard e-mail and phone support then creating tickets as needed but we think this option will let you be certain your needs are documented and getting the attention they deserve.

However, please remember… support responses are prioritized based on the impact that particular problem has on the overall business operational capability. Servers, backups, non-operational devices are normally first in line for problem resolution. A reported or requested incident that doesn’t put the business down is a secondary priority and will be handled as expeditiously as possible.

Arguing the point will put me into Cat Mode (see below).

Windows XP Support Notice… Write this down!

I shouldn’t have to say this but there are still sites out there that I’m sure are related to my cat. My cat has selective hearing so you get the picture.

There are the rare sites who need to run XP on CNC machines, Embroidery systems and so forth but those units are not on the Internet. Those will be supported as it is a business critical configuration and presents no security risk to the business operation.

However, as of 1 January 2016, any PC still running Windows XP and not in the group mentioned above will not be supported, period. If you call with a PC problem and the unit is running Windows XP, sorry… can’t help you.

The reason is simple. Even if I fixed the PC and reloaded Windows XP for you, I cannot get Security Updates and Critical Patches as Microsoft doesn’t provide them any longer. Without Security Updates, I will not put that unit back on the business network as it will certainly expose the remainder of the business to vulnerabilities and problems nobody needs… not to mention the associated costs if one of those outdated units lets a virus or Trojan into the network.