It’s Time To Say Goodbye To Windows XP

The year was 2001 when Microsoft released Windows XP to the world. Windows XP has been a part of our lives for almost 13 years. The original release of Windows XP was by no means perfect, and it required 3 Service Packs and 5 years before Microsoft built what will most likely go down in history as one of it’s most popular operating systems.

Over the past decade PC’s have moved from high-end equipment to be more comparable to an appliance; you need it, but once you’ve decided which one to purchase, you expect to use it until it breaks. Because of this, they are still millions of people still using Windows XP with no major issues. Now, Microsoft has decided that it’s time for users to move on and they have officially announced that as of April 8, 2014 that Windows XP will be considered ‘end of life’, will no longer be supported and they will no longer release security updates/patches for it.

Broken Windows
Image Credit: Deb Hultgren

Why Should You Care?
Both home and business users should pay special attention to Microsoft discontinuing security updates for Windows XP. No more security updates or patches means that any new vulnerabilities in Windows XP will not be fixed. To put this in perspective, Microsoft releases patches for Windows (XP, Vista, 7, 8) on the second Tuesday of every month and these updates almost always include security fixes for newly discovered issues. This means that there’s a very high chance that by the second Tuesday in May of this year all of your Windows XP machine will be vulnerable to exploitation. This will likely result in your PCs being infected and placing your entire network at risk. Due to the nature of these vulnerabilities its highly unlikely that anti-virus or anti-malware software will offer any protection.

What Can You Do?
Unfortunately there’s no way around it, the Windows XP machines must go, they will pose a significant and serious security threat to your network if they remain in use. If your organization currently has machines running Windows XP you should start purchasing new machines or plan a desktop infrastructure upgrade project with your IT department or provider. This should include replacing all Windows XP machines with newer systems OR upgrading them to at least Windows Vista (although you’d be much better off with Windows 7 or Windows 8). You may also take this as a chance to evaluate your entire IT infrastructure to ensure all of your equipment is current with the latest, updates and current support subscriptions.

If you need assistance in procuring and migrating to new desktops/laptops in your organization, Invizio provides IT support and desktop infrastructure roll-out services. Give us a call today.

Invizio Co-Founder Kevin V. Michael to Appear On Panel at “Social Media Business Technology Trends”

Please join the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce for a free workshop entitled  “Social Media Business Technology Trends” on February 28, 2014 at the University of Miami Life Science Park. Our Managing Partner and Co-Founder, Kevin V. Michael will be appearing on the panel alongside other recognized social media & technology experts such as Suzan McDowell of Circle of One Marketing, Chris Payne of Fury Advertising, and Diane Sanchez of Technology Foundation of the Americas. Keynote will be provided by Luis Cuneo of IBM. To RSVP please contact the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce at or by calling 305-751-8648.

2014-02-28 - Social Media Technology Trends Workshop Flyera

A Cloud Conversation: 5 Key Considerations When Transitioning to Hosted VoIP

As a follow up to my post last week on the Basics of Hosted VoIP, I wanted to take a moment to discuss some of the considerations that your business should make when you transition from traditional POTS (plain old telephone service) or on-premise phone system to Hosted VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol).

Like any cloud-based technology, there are a few things to keep in mind before rushing into it:

1) You Will Most Likely Need New Phones

Phones that are compatible with Hosted VoIP services are not your run of the mill telephone that you can pickup at Walmart. VoIP requires special phone models that are usually offered by manufacturers like Polycom, Cisco, Grandstream, or Snom. The bad news is that in some cases, your office may require some rewiring to support phones of this type, so you may want to seek professional advice before diving into Hosted VoIP. The good news is that virtually all Hosted VoIP services operate their networks using the same standards, so your phones can readily be reconfigured to work with a different provider should you ever need to make a switch.

2) Reliable Internet Access is an Absolute Must

With Hosted VoIP, there’s a very simple  equation: No internet = No phone. Make sure you have a good reliable connection with sufficient bandwidth to support all of the users in your organization. Many customers choose to have a secondary Internet connection to carry VoIP phone calls or as a failover connection in the event that their primary connection goes down. Some users try to skimp on this requirement, but are quickly disappointed when the call drops during that critical meeting or when the folks on the other end can’t hear them properly.

3) Quality of Service is Important; Make Sure Your Network is Ready

Because your voice communication is now competing for internet access with all the other internet-based activities on your network, it is imperative that you a) have sufficient internet bandwidth (see #2 above) and b) have network devices (i.e. switches and routers) that will prioritize voice traffic traveling to and from your network. Voice communication is a real-time form of communication, so if your voice traffic does not flow properly, your conversations will sound choppy.

4) The Number of Users Determines Your Costs

Hosted VoIP services are typically priced per user per month and often include unlimited local and long distance calling. There are a wide range of prices out there, starting at $19.99/month per user. Most companies have some form of volume pricing established, so as you grow, you will get a break on the per user pricing. Unless you have a really large organization, expect that for every user you add, your bill will go up commensurately.  If you have a big company, some providers can provide low cost per seat pricing with a pooled set of minutes to use across the organization.

5) In My Books Software is King

Maybe I’m biased because I’m considered a “techie”, but I think its increasingly important that your Hosted VoIP vendor provide you a solid and constantly evolving software platform. Let’s face it, making a phone call, is making a phone call is making a phone call. What really will separate your business from the pack is if your vendor provides innovative software features that align with the increasingly mobile world that we live in. Mobile device apps, business SMS, softphones, and Outlook integration are just a handful of the things that I like to see. We can help you survey the market to find what ‘cool’ things you might be missing out on and help you make the switch to Hosted VoIP.

Inertia (or why Microsoft’s biggest problem is their PC dominance)

Inertia is the resistance of any physical object to a change in its state of motion or rest, or the tendency of an object to resist any change in its motion.

Microsoft doesn’t know what to do with Windows. Or at least it doesn’t seem like Microsoft knows what to do with Windows. Microsoft’s greatest strength in the desktop market today is inertia. The dominance the company has built over the past 10-15 years as the de facto PC operating system for both business’ and consumers is because of this inertia. Since the release of Windows 95 has there been another feasible option? Mac OS of course provides a more than viable alternative but the fact is that Windows remained dominant and Mac OS was always a niche player.

Microsoft’s problem is that it’s a much different world now, and up until last year their flagship operating system was still stuck in 1996 where UI/UX was concerned. Microsoft didn’t have an answer to the question that tablets posed and they needed one badly so they created Windows 8; the operating system that would bring Windows squarely into 2012 and compete against not only Mac OS but more importantly iOS and Android. Windows biggest competitors were now mobile operating systems, the operating systems that came pre-installed on the smartphones and tables people purchased. Microsoft also felt the need to make one operating system that would work well on tablets and also on traditional desktops and laptops and created an operating system that unfortunately doesn’t work very well on either.

What’s interesting, is that the main issue that Windows 8 has in the marketplace isn’t one of functionality its one of familiarity. The way people use Windows hasn’t changed fundamentally since Windows 95; graphics get better, features more polished but at the core there’s always been a desktop with icons and a Start menu. Users are used to this, they expect that when they turn on their Windows PC they will see a desktop with icons and a Start menu, that hasn’t changed in almost 20 years, until now. Windows 8 isn’t familiar, which may be acceptable if a long time Windows user were to pick up a Windows tablet, but on the desktop people want what they’re used to. It wasn’t broken (at least not on the desktop) so why change it? Microsoft would argue that Windows 8 works equally well for tablet AND desktop users. A similar argument however could be made that while they may work equally well, they don’t work very well in either usage scenario, unless you are willing to do some tweaking. But users who’ve gotten used to interacting with iPhone’s, iPad’s and Android smartphones and tablets don’t expect to have to tweak, fiddle or tinker with their computer/device do get it to a place where they’re comfortable with it, they expect it to be comfortable and familiar from the minute they press the ON button. For those of us that don’t mind tweaking their PC’s Windows 8 is a great upgrade, but for the rest; where’s the incentive to leave the warm, familiar, comfortable, functional Windows 7/Vista/XP which they’re accustomed to? Especially when their desktop and laptop computers are probably now more than ever relegated to appliances that are only used to accomplish “work” tasks and most leisure activities have moved to smartphones, tables, set-top boxes or game consoles. Users want something that gets out of their way, they’ve spent the last 20 years learning how to use Windows and don’t want to have to do so again. Can you blame them?

Once a train starts moving and picks up speed, it’s very hard to stop it, it’s the reason Window’s gained its dominant market position and unfortunately for Microsoft it’s also the reason it’s so hard for them to adapt to the rapidly changing PC or should I say PCD (personal computing device) landscape. The inertia isn’t Microsoft’s directly but rather a result of the expectation they’ve created in their users by not making any significant changes to Windows UI/UX over the past 20 years. Now that major change has come with Windows 8 and users want to continue along the same track they’ve been travelling these past two decades. Microsoft now has the challenge of stopping this train or at the very least changing its course.

Invizio Co-Sponsors the Jim Moran Institute 3rd Annual Business & Leadership Conference

Invizio at Jim Moran Institute 3rd Annual Business & Leadership ConferenceThis past Saturday (June 29th, 2013), the Invizio team dropped in at the Urban League of Broward County for the 3rd Annual Business & Leadership Conference hosted by the Jim Moran Institute of Florida State University. As sponsors of the exhibit hall we were on hand to answer many of the  questions that attendees had about many of the emerging trends in small business technology. BYOD, Hosted VoIP, cloud email and the age old Mac vs PC questions were among the topics that came up during our time there. The entire team had an amazing time hearing Dr. Germaine Smith-Baugh talk about Organization Reinvention and many of the conference speakers discuss everything from Business Financing to Online Marketing.

We’d like to give a special shout out to Jennifer Kovach, the South Florida Outreach Coordinator of the Jim Moran Institute for showing us a great time and putting on a wonderful event.