April 2012 News Letter

April 2012 News Letter

Announcing Our New Website

The Direct iT Web Team is proud to announce the launch of our new directitcorp.com site! We have news, product info, a cloud-services blog, and lots of other new features. Please check it out and let us know what you think!

Previewing Windows 8

Windows 8 is the next generation operating system coming from Microsoft. They have not announced a release date yet — at one point last year CEO Steve Ballmer mentioned a 2012 release date, and based on the normal Windows release cycle we expect it to go on sale in the fall of 2012. Our engineers recently downloaded a pre-release developer version of Windows 8, and here are a few things we noticed about the new OS:

Designed for Tablets: Remember how the look and feel of Windows completely changed between Windows XP and Windows 7 / Vista? Well, get ready, because it is completely changing yet again. The new interface, called Metro, makes Windows 8 look and feel a lot like a smartphone or tablet — in fact, the Metro interface is used on Windows Phone smartphones and is designed to allow Windows 8 to be used on tablet devices. The Windows Explorer file explorer interface is also changing, moving to a “ribbon” style interface like that pioneered in Office 2007. Some pundits are saying that this is more of Microsoft trying to imitate Apple.

Hardware Support, Storage Spaces, and Security Updates: Like with any new version of Windows, you can expect built-in support for newer hardware and improved security. Also, a new feature called Storage Spaces will allow users to create redundant storage spaces where files are spread across multiple disks (similar to RAID).

Windows To Go: Another announced feature will be Windows To Go, a feature where you can setup a USB stick with your files and applications and boot any Windows 7 or Windows 8 compatible computer off of it.

Windows Store: Again taking a play from Apple, Windows 8 will feature an official Microsoft app store, where you can purchase Microsoft-approved software in a digital download format (allowing Microsoft to collect a percentage of the revenue every time you purchase software from Adobe, Quicken, or any other software vendor). The idea is that you can know that the software you are purchasing has been tested and approved by Microsoft when you download it from the App Store.

When should you consider switching?

In the IT industry, there is a rule of thumb called the Service Pack 1 rule. The idea is, a new Microsoft OS isn’t going to be supported or tested well enough for business users to consider switching until the first major service pack for the OS is released.

There is still a lot of time and opportunity for things to change before the release of Windows 8 — the Direct iT engineering team will be keeping a close eye on developments and will keep you updated.


The iPad’s Role in the Paperless Office

Can the iPad be part of your paperless business?

Few computing devices have ever captured the imagination like the iPad. Sleek, futuristic, lightweight, and powerful, the iPad (and with it, other tablets) has been rapidly moving out of the realm of home and personal use into businesses. More and more iPads are appearing in sales presentations and meetings; chances are, there will soon be an iPad in a cubicle near you.

Electronic Signatures

For years, fedex and UPS have used electronic signature pads for delivery confirmations. There are a number of electronic forms products on the market that allow users to sign documents in electronic format, and special iPad-compatible styluses are available that look and feel a lot like a normal pen. However, we don’t yet see much adoption of electronic signature systems by small businesses and law firms; generally, the idea is that very little can go wrong with physical paper and ink, while a tablet may have software or network issues, a hard drive might die, etc. As these products become more mature we will see electronic signature technology move more and more into smaller businesses and more applications.

Tablet Camera as Scanner

There are also many apps and devices on the market designed to let people use a tablet’s camera as a scanner to scan documents. What could be more convenient than taking a quick snapshot of a page with your tablet? However, this is not going to produce nearly as good an image as a real scanner. Issues with page size, lighting, angle, and editing can make working with a document that was scanned on an iPad difficult.

BYOD – Bring Your Own Device

Another facet of the tablet revolution is the BYOD ( Bring Your Own Device) model for business networks. For a long time, many businesses have focused on being able to control their information infrastructure — laptops, desktops, servers, all managed, secured, and provided by the company. Now, with the proliferation of iPads and other tablets, many employees are requesting that their personal iPads be connected to the corporate network. This allows them to use the iPad as a powerful business tool, but also brings up a number of different problems:

  • Security — iPads are one of the most common targets of theft, and the iOS operating system that runs the iPad does not provide enterprise-grade security features (like an encrypted root filesystem or centralized policy management). When you start connecting insecure devices to your corporate network, this creates a risk.
  • Control — when using employee-provided equipment, the business does not have full legal control over the equipment, its setup, and its use. With company-provided gear, you can install your own system policies and settings.
  • Ownership — in the case of terminated employees, you are left without any means to make sure their device does not have any trade secrets, intellectual property, passwords or other company data on it. The IT department loses a level of control.

My Efact: Paperless Office iPad Support

My Efact: Paperless Office has been tested to work with iPads, iPhones, and other common tablet devices. Our development team is also in the process of getting an app in the Apple app store, look forward to news in the future when our app (which will feature much quicker and easier iPad/iPhone scanning support) is released to the app store.

More Adobe Exploits in 2012

So far in 2012, there have been 4 major Adobe exploits — in January, we saw an Adobe Reader PDF exploit where an attacker can hijack your machine using an infected PDF file. Then in February, we have seen both an Adobe Flash exploit (patched on February 15th) and an Adobe Shockwave exploit, and then another Adobe Flash exploit in early March. Remember to keep your Adobe programs updated, don’t open untrusted PDF files, and stay away from dangerous websites when possible.

It’s also worth noting that almost all of these exploits had “in the wild” periods — a period of time when there were websites and hackers using the exploits to infect machines before Adobe had released a patch or fix. Because of this “in the wild” period, we have to recommend that anyone who requires a secure network (i.e. banking and financial institutions, people with access to medical records, etc) should not use an Adobe Flash enabled web browser from a secure computer.

Thailand Flood Update – Hard Drive Shipments Resuming

We’ve been continuing to monitor the impact of the floods in Bangkok on the hard drive market — and although availability has not yet returned to pre-flood levels, we are noticing that shipments of popular enterprise SATA drives have started to resume in greater quantities. There are still some delays in system orders and there has been an overall impact on the market of reducing PC shipments, especially through the last Christmas season.

One welcome impact the floods have had on the market is that SSDs (Solid State Drives) have become more and more price-competitive with hard drives, as SSD prices have fallen while hard drive prices increased. SSDs work much like a hard drive but have no moving parts, produce much less heat, use much less power — however, SSDs are new technology, while hard drives have been a tried-and-true staple of computing for over 50 years. We are seeing more and more SSDs in enterprise storage and server systems as well as in laptops, and believe SSDs will become the norm in the future for performance-critical applications because SSDs significantly outperform even the fastest hard drives.

Call Direct iT Today!


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About Direct iT

Direct iT, Inc. is a New England based IT services firm offering products and services for small businesses in Greater Boston, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and the rest of New England. Cloud, compliance, and document management services are also available worldwide. Many of our customers are along the Route 128 technology corridor.

Direct iT, Inc. Main Offices

39 Emerson Rd. Suite 215
Waltham, MA 02451
Sales: 781-890-4400
Support 781-890-1907