Windows 8.1 Users must update before May 13th, 2014 to avoid security risks

Attention Windows 8 Users

Microsoft released a new update for Windows 8.1 earlier this week that has some users disgruntled. According to Microsoft, Windows 8.1 users will not receive security patches or any other system updates in the future unless they download and install this new update before May 13th, 2014. Users who choose not to deploy the update will be at risk for security issues on their systems, and ineligible for future patches and feature enhancements. The update requirement only affects Windows 8.1 users.

Users who utilize the automatic updates feature on their Windows device should already have the update downloaded and installed since it became available April 8, 2014. If you aren’t set up to install updates automatically, you will need to look for the update KB2919355 specifically, and download and install it to your device. The deadline to download and install this update is May 13th, 2014. Microsoft offers assistance with device updates in most of their store locations.

By: Lacey Rickert, Marketing Director HCCS, Inc.

 

Sources: http://www.pcworld.com/article/2140803/windows-8-1-update-is-required-for-future-windows-8-1-patches.html
http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9247520/Microsoft_requires_migration_to_Windows_8.1_Update_within_5_weeks

Attention Apple Users: Update now to avoid security risks!

by HCCS, Inc. Due to the announcement earlier this week of security risks associated with Apple Devices, we urge any Apple users to perform software updates on their devices immediately, to avoid being victimized by the breach in Apple’s software.   According to sources at many news outlets, including the New York Times, Apple identified a problem in its mobile and desktop operating systems that could allow for hackers to access what you thought to be secure transactions and sessions on your device.  The problem has to do with a coding error in their web connectivity software that validates the security certificates being sent back and forth when you’re establishing a secure connection.  Because of this issue, the browser on your device cannot verify the authenticity of an encryption certificate. What that means is, any hacker could pretend to be your Amazon shopping cart, your bank account or your personal e-mail and cause serious harm, not to mention the increased risk of identity theft. We urge all Apple customers to update their software as soon as possible! Most Apple users can download the update through their general settings on their device.  Keep an eye out for additional security tips from our experts!

Lacey Rickert, Marketing Director

Source: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/02/24/apples-serious-security-issue-update-your-iphone-or-ipad-immediately/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

Microsoft Ends support for Windows XP & Office 2003 in April, publishes free 8.1 tutorial videos

For some Windows users, April 8, 2014, is an important deadline.  It’s the date Microsoft announced they will end support for Windows XP SP3 and Office 2003 products.  Per the Support Lifecycle policy introduced by the company in 2002, Microsoft products have a minimum of 10 years of support, making it time to transition these older versions out of support.  On their website, Microsoft asserts that end of support means customers should take action stating, “After April 8, 2014, there will be no new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options or online technical content updates.”   The company goes on to list the risks associated with running out-of-date software on your machines, including security & compliance risks, lack of Independent Software Vendor & Hardware Manufacturers support, and more.  Basically, the concern for Windows XP & Office 2003 users who have not taken measures to update their programs is their exposure and vulnerability to security risks.

If you have one of the software versions set to end support in 2014, Microsoft suggests immediate migration to Windows 7 or higher, to continue to receive security updates and program support from Microsoft and its certified partners.  Because Windows 8 received such mixed reviews from users who are already comfortable with earlier versions of the software, many users are hesitant to upgrade to the new operating system.  Some users are intimidated by the idea of upgrading to Windows 8.1 because of the inconvenience of learning to navigate through the new touchscreen inspired format.  The good news is Microsoft has produced helpful training materials for users who are new to Windows 8.1.  These tutorials are short videos covering the basic navigation and function of the new interface of Windows 8.1 operating system.  You can access these free videos online by following this link:

8.1 tutorial videos: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/enterprise/resources-and-tools/default.aspx

April 8, 2014

If you are struggling to transition your PC’s from Windows XP or Office 2003, look for a Microsoft Certified Partner in your area to handle the software migration.  Enlisting a computer technician for technology changes will ensure that your upgrade is successful.  In most cases, the technician is also available to assist you in basic training on your software.

Lacey Rickert

Marketing Director, HCCS, Inc.

Our company, HCCS, Inc., is a Microsoft Certified Partner based in Overland Park, Kansas.  We specialize in helping our clients become more confident and successful using their technology.  Contact us today for troubleshooting, advice, assistance, or more information on how we can help with your Microsoft software upgrades and Windows support.

Transform your user experience with these helpful tablet accessories!

The touchscreen tablet was a top selling item for 2013 holiday shoppers in the United States.   This holiday season, many of our clients and colleagues expressed their excitement at finding the “perfect tablet” for the tech lover in their lives.  At HCCS, Inc., we use the Surface Pro 2 for business purposes, but for the consumer there are many different tablet options available for personal use.   No matter which tablet you have, if you really want to enhance your user experience, consider purchasing some accessories!

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With all the innovations in touchscreen technology, it may be surprising to learn that these tablets do not bounce!   It is an expensive lesson to learn from experience, so take measures to reinforce your tablet.   Every tablet owner should invest in a sturdy protective case for their device.  Different cases have different features, like hand straps or even waterproof options.   Be sure to shop around until you find a case that truly suits your needs.    Another accessory that some users consider necessary for device safety is a tablet stand or grip.  Some tablet cases have these features built in, but if you end up choosing a case that does not have a grip or stand feature, both accessories are handy for keeping your tablet in good condition.  Another safeguarding option to consider is a screen protector to minimize the risk of scratching or damaging your screen with household dust or the oil from your skin.  You can also damage a screen if you clean it with the wrong supplies, so investing in a screen cleaning kit is a proactive way to ensure device longevityPurchasing a stylus for your device can also help keep the screen free of fingerprints and oily residue from our skin. Some users prefer using a stylus for better accuracy interacting with the touchscreen technology.  All of these accessories are available to purchase from retailers online or at your local computer store.

While most tablets have a touch screen with a built-in keyboard feature, many users still prefer the option of using a real keyboard and mouse to interact with their device.  There are wireless USB or Bluetooth connected keyboard and mouse options available.  At Heritage, we have tried both types, but our employees primarily use the Bluetooth mouse and keyboard because the tablet has limited space for USB connections.  We use one USB port to plug in an external hard drive for extra storage space on our tablets.   If you purchase multiple accessories with USB connections, you may also want to invest in a USB hub to create more USB connections for your device.  With a USB hub, you only plug the hub into your device and then you hook the USB accessories into the tablet through the hub.   If the tablet is for an individual user, purchasing some headphones is a good idea.   If the tablet is for a family or group to share, look for a set of wireless speakers to help boost the volume of the device so everyone can hear it at the same time.   Bluetooth technology has made wireless accessories more affordable for the everyday user.

For the traveling tablet user, consider a USB car port, for charging your device and accessories on-the-go.  Many people use their devices for navigation, so there are many styles of tablet holders for your vehicle dashboard area.  For parents of children who enjoy a backseat movie during transit, there are even tablet holders that fit on the back of a vehicle headrest.  For many parents of the tablet generation, traveling with kids is made easier with access to instant videos on the move.  With the right accessories, you can truly improve your user experience on any mobile device.   Happy New Year and happy hunting from the tech lovers at Heritage!

By: Lacey Rickert

Marketing Director and tablet enthusiast

What’s new with Windows 8.1 OS?

Windows 8 was released in final form last October. With it, Microsoft brought about some dramatic changes to the Windows experience. They wanted to create a unified operating system that works the same and as well on both portable devices such as tablet and desktop computers. On top of the visual overhaul Windows underwent, a lot of work went into making 8 a more secure and stable operating system. With 8.1 just released in preview form, Microsoft is set to fix some of the complaints early adopters of Windows 8 had and build in a few more features to keep the user secure.

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A lot of talk has been made about the new design Microsoft unveiled with Windows 8. For users accustomed to a standard Windows experience, it was cumbersome to work in and find what you are looking for. There was no more start menu on the desktop and most applications were hidden in the All Apps page. With 8.1, Microsoft helps improve the learning curve. All Apps is easier to find and the Start button is back on the desktop. Users are able to set options that change the behavior of the Start button and also allow Windows 8 to boot straight to the desktop, something that is more familiar for users. Microsoft has also built a help application that guides users through basic tasks and helps them learn some of the new features.

In addition to user interface adjustments, 8.1 has a few enhancements for both home and business users. In the past, home computers were typically members of a workgroup while business computers were on a domain. With the proliferation of portable computers, such as tablets, businesses needed a better way to manage these and users needed a better way to get more use from them at work. Microsoft has added a feature, Workplace Join, which allows someone to keep their device on their home network but also join their work network and access files and programs to increase their productivity. In addition, network administrators now have more control over company files stored on a Windows 8.1 device and can remotely erase these if the need arises.

Windows 8.1 also brings with it some new security features. Internet Explorer 11, which comes standard on 8.1, now scans webpages for any malicious code before it runs. This helps to lessen the likelihood of getting malware on your computer. Should something slip through this safety net, Windows Defender on 8.1 scans all code and binaries for malicious patterns. If something is detected, it will stop it before damage is done.

Windows 8 has been out for just over 8 months and has radically changed the way we use Windows. With 8.1, some of the less intuitive features have been improved to give an all-around nicer interface. With a slew of other improvements and adjustments, it may be the time to think about upgrading to the safer and more reliable operating system when it releases in final form later this year.

 

By: Andrew Owen, Technical Services at HCCS, Inc.

For more information contact our experts 1-866-529-4227

Keeping your computer safe with Windows 8

As viruses continue to get smarter, the way we fight them must also adapt. Microsoft, with the launch of Windows 8, has taken a big step to ensure their users’ data remains safe. From the moment you first turn on your computer, Windows 8 is hard at work behind the scenes protecting your computer. For the standard user, Windows 8 deploys a three-pronged approach with Secure Boot, Trusted Boot, and Early Launch Anti-Malware.

windows8bootup-flow-chart

Secure Boot kicks in when the power is first turned on. It quickly and automatically scans the bootloader to ensure it is safe from malware. (The bootloader is a small part of the hard drive that points the computer to the operating system.) From there, Trusted Boot kicks in. This takes a close look at the system files and drivers that are loaded when Windows first starts. If Malware is found by either of these, Windows automatically fixes the problem for you. Finally, Early Launch Anti-Malware does a fast virus scan on all files and programs that launch with Windows. This helps catch anything that may have slipped through and prevents it from causing any harm.

Windows 8 helps to simplify the process of protecting your computer from malware. With these added benefits, Microsoft is making it hard for others to infect your computer.
By: Andrew Owen, Technical Services at HCCS, Inc.

For more information contact our experts 1-866-529-4227

How to organize your computer equipment for a move

Visit us at our new location!

Visit us at our new location!

Heritage has moved into a new building to house our growing staff and to better serve the needs of our local clients. As a company in the business of computers, it’s no surprise that we also had to relocate dozens of computers, monitors, and electronic equipment essential to the operation of our office without disrupting services or risking damage to equipment. No matter who handles your move, HCCS recommends boxing your own equipment to ensure safe transport. Because of the nature of our business, whenever Heritage makes new purchases our company stores the original equipment boxes for monitors, keyboards, scanners, and CPUs with the Styrofoam and safe shipping materials still inside in anticipation of moving or shipping equipment to a new place. Obviously, this is the most ideal situation, but the experts at HCCS have been doing this for a long time! If you do not have the original boxes for your electronics, the best you can do is invest in quality packing materials and try to find boxes that complement the shape of the piece of equipment you are packing. Make sure the packing materials you choose are safe to use on screens and will not leave residue or damage your electronics. In most cases using some form of bubble wrap around the item ensures there is no room for contents to shift within the box. It is also helpful to notate “this side up” and label fragile boxes as such, to decrease the likelihood that movers will jostle the contents carelessly.

At Heritage, we have multiple USB connected computer accessories and cords that look similar for each system. So, we keep track by labeling each piece with the name of the system it belongs on and boxing all the pieces together. Before packing computer equipment or electronics with multiple pieces and power components, it is very helpful to label pieces that go to the same device. This ensures speedy unpacking by someone of any skill level.

While moving and rebooting all those machines, imagine what would happen to your home or business if all the data stored on your electronics was lost? At Heritage, that would be catastrophic; so we take special measures to back up and store our data securely before attempting to shut down or move a computer. First, we enlist the help of our IT department ahead of time to make sure we have the correct means of storing our back up files. Then, our friendly tech sets up system updates and automatic backup of files on our devices. Each system at Heritage is checked in and documented into a 3-ring binder containing any support manuals or software materials necessary to recover the system in the case of a crash.

To finish our move, we had our technician install network cable across our new location ahead of time. He also set up our servers and tested the network to ensure the staff could seamlessly connect as soon as the move was complete.
If you don’t have your own IT department, consider hiring a tech company like HCCS to provide expert advice, hands-on assistance and peace of mind during your next move.

Lacey Rickert, Marketing Director HCCS, Inc.

For more tips on moving your home or business technology and equipment, contact a consultant at HCCS, Inc. today and experience the Heritage difference! 913-529-4227