Microsoft Previews Light Theme for May 2019 Update

Microsoft’s Windows Team have previewed a new optional Light Theme to be released in May 2019’s Windows 10 update.

The glossy, bright look is currently available to those on the Windows 10 Insider Preview Build (a kind of test program for volunteer guinea-pigs of future Windows versions – accessed through Windows Update.)

Both Apple and Microsoft have introduced ‘Dark Modes’ more eye-sensitive for night-time use in recent years, either in popular software such as Outlook, or as part of the main operating system itself, as in the case of Apple’s Mojave update.

Windows Light Theme introduces a brighter feel for Microsoft’s signature operating system, likely to prove a hit among companies with certain in-house ‘styles’ favouring brighter tones, or to provide more options to those with visual impairments.

As of March 2019, Windows 10 is now in use across more than 800 million devices worldwide, running on just a smidge under half of all PCs in existence (49.9%.)

May’s Windows update (build 18362.30) also features numerous minor fixes, including improvements to printing processes, splitting Cortana from Windows Search, and extending dark mode within OneDrive.

Light theme will be available within the ‘Personalisation’ settings available by right-clicking on the Windows desktop, once the new update lands in May.

 

For Microsoft expertise and support – contact our team today


Could your PC be the last you ever buy?

Several major PC manufacturers have disclosed a new rental PC payment model to dramatically slash the cost of upgrading your PC.

Dell, HP, Lenovo and Microsoft have all recently announced new ‘PC-as-a-service’ schemes whereby rental PCs will be available to businesses entirely under a pay-monthly model rather than an upfront purchase.

Software services, particularly popular cloud-based offerings like Microsoft’s Office 365, have been increasingly moving to a subscription model for some time, offering both consistent cash flow for software developers and all the advantages of low-entry costs to their user base.

Hardware developers are finally catching up with this trend, offering PC hardware to the business sector on a rental basis – with the formerly high up-front cost of upgrading hardware spread over a longer period, more akin to credit-backed contract markets for mobile phones or cars.

A rental PC arrangement obviously poses a risk to the technology giants – accepting that the dominant future model for sales may be one where they still carry significant financial risk for devices already ‘in-use’ across the business market.

Microsoft in particular took a big step in this direction with their ‘Surface-as-a-Service’ last year –  offering subscription based premium touchscreen devices to business customers in the US (although these are subject to credit checks and other lending precautions.)

For Dell, HP and Lenovo, by far the world’s three biggest PC manufacturers, to take the same step represents a huge volume increase in this kind of approach, significantly cutting upfront costs for businesses investing in physical hardware.

Your PC won’t be the last you pay for, but it could be the last you ever ‘buy’ in the sense we now understand it.

For PC support and expertise: contact Lineal today.


Windows XP Antivirus? Bitdefender to the rescue.

Around 6% of PCs are estimated to still be running out of date, unsupported operating systems like Microsoft Windows XP. Here at Lineal we’ve long advocated keeping operating systems up-to-date and secure against the latest threats.

But in certain circumstances that’s not always so easy: legacy XP machines are often connected to third party equipment (e.g.: manufacturing hardware) using cable connections or drivers that are now difficult to obtain. The external hardware can’t be replaced as readily as the connected PC for both cost and practical reasons, so the ageing PC (with a lack of XP antivirus) creates an in-built security vulnerability for a businesses’ whole network.

Users caught by this conundrum can find a solution in Bitdefender’s Security for XP and Vista – a version of Bitdefender’s award-winning security built to be backwards compatible to older PCs, and providing ongoing security against the latest threats for legacy hardware.

Security for XP and Vista is available for Windows XP Service Pack 3 and Vista Service Pack 2 operating systems, and also integrates with older software likely to be found on such machines, such as Outlook 2007, Yahoo Messenger 9, Internet Explorer 8 and other common web browsers of the same generation.

For those concerned that a trusty old machine and lack of XP antivirus could be the very weakest point in their security, Bitdefender could be a shrewd choice indeed.

For IT Security advice and support, contact Lineal today.


Microsoft Access to become available on Office 365

Microsoft Access

Microsoft Access is making a return to Microsoft Office, and will soon be offered as a free extra to many cloud customers.

In a recent announcement from Microsoft, the ‘Access Team’ confirmed that the popular business database tool would be making a return as a part of the standard package available to all Office 365 Business Premium customers.

Officially the move continues Microsoft’s commitment to keep expanding Office 365’s cloud service to make more features available (including the new Slack-style Microsoft ‘Teams’) giving Office 365 subscribers ever more for their money. 

Unofficially, we wonder whether omitting Microsoft Access from the well-known ‘suite’ of Microsoft Apps (Word, Excel, Powerpoint and others) has seen Microsoft lose it’s 1990s database dominance to other platforms or CRM systems. Reintroducing the app may be timely for modern businesses that are increasingly interested in studying their data, and help encourage a wider audience to take a second look at the powerful program.

Recent iterations of the popular database management system have expanded on the traditional database store and report tools, allowing power users to use Access to develop web apps and other software, or act as the practical visual ‘front-end’ for more complex ‘back end’ database systems like Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle.

In addition, Access will be available with a set of enterprise data connector allowing Office 365 users to integrate their databases with Dynamics CRM, Salesforce and others.

Office 365 Business premium (which you can try through Lineal for free here) will include the latest version of Access to all new and existing customers from December 2016.

Lineal are a Microsoft Gold Partner – for help and expertise, contact us today.


Microsoft Surface Studio might be the Coolest PC ever

Microsoft Surface Studio

Microsoft have announced the release of the Microsoft Surface Studio, a premium 28-inch easel-style desktop PC which turns into a large tabletop tablet: aimed squarely at designers and the business market.

At only 12.5mm thin, Microsoft claims the impressive LCD touchscreen to be the thinnest ever built, with a visually stunning 13.5 million pixels even the most ardent iMac fan will grudgingly approve of.

True innovation comes in the form of the Surface Dial, a mystery metallic cylinder which can be placed on the screen to enable extra radial controls such as a designer’s colour wheel, arguably bridging the gap between the conventional mouse and greasy-fingered touchscreen controls.

Indeed the drawing and stylus controls position the Microsoft Surface Studio as a clear rival to both the iPad Pro and iMac range, and will include a variety of design, animation and 3D tools similar to those teased in the release of the new Microsoft Paint just last week.

At Lineal we’ve found both Apple devices, and their Surface equivalents, to be increasingly popular choices in sectors which need to demonstrate work visually to help win business – architects, photographers, designers and other creative professions in particular.

US prices are quoted as starting at $2,999, but with this specification only providing a very basic Intel Core i5 processor and 8GB of RAM, most users will need to upgrade to either the mid or higher end models i7 models ($3,499 – $4,199 respectively) to get the most from such a large, graphically demanding screen.

Surface, Microsoft’s enterprise range a tablet/laptop hybrids, have become one of their most successful brands with revenues rising 38% in the company’s recent earnings report. 

In addition to the new flagship Surface Studio, Microsoft also released a revised i7 version of last year’s Surface Book which includes significantly better battery life – doubling down on their focus on premium business devices.

Lineal are certified Microsoft Gold Partners: for advice, contact us today.


The future of your PC: to blend in, or re-invent?

PC

Pity the traditional tower PC, it doesn’t get much love these days.  How can fixed hardware continue long into the future, when all consumers seem interested in is impossibly thin laptops and ever more powerful smartphones?

HP may be offering one solution: making the desktop PC part of the furniture. The Pavilion Wave (pictured) is their latest experiment: a curious triangular desktop PC with a fabric surround, resembling a speaker.

In addition to 6th Generation Intel Core i7 quad-core processors, up to 2TB of storage and up to 16GB of memory, the Wave can support two 4K displays and is therfore, by normal standards: a desktop PC. Yet the large central speaker, deflecting sound off the triangular lid also maintains the illusion that your HP device is nothing so dull as a desktop PC, but part of a household sound system.

Or what about making the device portable? Intel’s compute stick and Asus’ Vivo Stick give you the option of a ‘desktop’ PC you can disconnect from the HDMI port of your monitor and walk away with, although these are entry-level performing devices at best.

For a more unusual re-imagining, look to Acer, who continue to develop the magnetically attached small-form modular ‘Revo Build’, built from any number of optional blocks that add storage, extra graphics performance and more. HP have attempted something similar with the ‘Elite Slice Desktop’ – an artistic small form desktop workstation which can connect optional modules for extra storage or more powerful audio.

Both show a recognition of the way desktops have had to adapt: giving users more flexibility, and including a wireless charging loop for your smartphone on the top of the external casing, so that your phone can be charged whilst you sit at your desk.

Will the traditional desktop PC live on? If it does, it may look quite different.

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