Is your business one of the 20% NOT using Microsoft Office 365?

Are you using one of the cheaper or free alternatives like Google’s G-Suite set of apps because it “promises” a similar range of functionality? What might be “good enough” when your business is a 1-3 person startup, quickly becomes limiting as your business grows and your team needs to collaborate and share files with clients, vendors and partners.

Office 365 has cutting-edge collaboration features like Teams and real-time co-authoring. Your staff can use O365 on up to five devices, making them more productive and able to connect from anywhere at any time.

So whether your staff is 1 or 10+, here are the key features of Office 365 that will excite your workforce to be more productive.

REASON #1: Great For Small Business Owners

Microsoft provides business owners with a stable, consistent pricing structure for their suite of business tools. They’re able to provide their employees with the latest updated software without worrying about additional upgrade charges or excessive licensing fees.

The easy per-user pricing structure allows businesses to scale up or down whenever they have changes in their staffing levels. And say goodbye to investing in expensive servers thanks to Office 365’s cloud storage option.

REASON #2: Easy Collaboration From Anywhere

All users have access to a common platform when collaborating on projects. By enabling cloud synchronization, documents can be created on one device and shared with other contributors to allow for easy collaboration in a secure cloud environment.

Microsoft’s introduction of Teams in 2016 brought collaboration to a new level. Teams is a conversation thread for groups of people, similar to Slack, but where Slack lacks in an integrated experience, Teams provides easy access your business apps, such as PowerPoint, Word and Excel. With Teams, live collaboration seamlessly occurs with teammates across the room or in the next hemisphere.

REASON #3: Ideal For A Mobile Workforce

Office 365 can be used on- or offline. This is important because if the internet goes down and your team is using G-Suite, you are down. With Office 365, your team can stay productive by just using the apps offline and syncing when an internet connection becomes available.

The Office 365 license permits use of up to five devices per user. This allows your employees to use it on their mobile device, laptop or tablet. For businesses that have a workforce that is mobile or remote-based, the options of being able to work from anywhere at any time provides increased productivity.

REASON #4: More Extensive Features Than G-Suite

Office 365 and G-Suite can appear superficially similar at first glance. Let’s do a deeper dive into important differences between the two productivity suites.

1. More Plan Flexibility

G-Suite makes only three different plan options available: basic, business, or enterprise. You’re out of luck if none of them meet your current business needs. There’s no way to massage any of the plans into a more suitable format.

In contrast, Microsoft currently offers three plans for small businesses and four plans for enterprises. They also offer separate plans for educational institutions, government agencies in the U.S. and various non-profit organizations. If none of them meet your company needs, Microsoft allows you to pick and choose features to create your own custom plan.

2. Better Cloud Storage

All Office 365 business users gain access to 1TB of cloud storage. Compare that to basic business accounts with G-Suite which only receive 30GB of storage and must upgrade to a higher tier for additional storage space.

3. Meets Compliance Regulations for HIPAA, PCI and FERPA

Office 365 cloud storage can be used to back up user and workstation data. All data uploaded to Microsoft cloud servers is protected by encryption and meets HIPAA, PCI, and FERPA regulations. Additionally, Microsoft offers two-factor authentication to prevent Office 365 and Outlook email accounts from being accessed if a password is compromised and an unfamiliar device attempts to log into an account.

4. Better Positioned for Growth

G-Suite tools may work when with a startup workforce. But, as you grow, you need tools capable of handling that expansion. Office applications are used by 80% of business users, making it easy to collaborate with business partners and vendors without compatibility issues.

Let Simpleworks Aid Your Transition

Simpleworks has migrated thousands of users to Office 365. We create a simple and seamless experience for your business, so you have nothing to worry about. We can sync your Office 365 applications within 1-2 days depending on the size of your email database.

Trust your migration to an experienced and certified Microsoft partner. Contact Simpleworks if you are considering a move to Microsoft Office 365. Reach out to us online or by phone at 719-476-0444.

The success of the Windows Server 2008 operating system can’t be denied. It became a mainstay with small- and medium-sized businesses across a variety of industries. Around 85% of companies still run Windows Server 2008 due to the server’s proven reliability.

And that’s part of the problem.

What Companies Risk by Sticking with Windows Server 2008

On January 14, 2020, Microsoft will discontinue support for both Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2. The costs and time investment required for upgrades are why so many companies still cling to the program. With the 2020 stop date rapidly approaching, here are the risks of not upgrading:

  1. Extensive Security Vulnerabilities. Once Microsoft stops making regular updates, there will be no further security patches to Windows Server 2008. Continuing to use the operating system without these fixes exposes your important business and customer data to hackers looking to steal data. You could also end up infected with malware designed to take your systems hostage for ransom.
  2. Limited Cloud Compatibility. Not upgrading to a new version of Windows Server limits your options when it comes to expanding your technology platform via cloud technology. Windows Server 2008 isn’t fully capable of providing support for cloud or hybrid environments, which will limit your options on software that is only cloud-based.
  3. Performance Issues. Without regular updates, you’ll see your hardware performance slow down as Windows Server 2008 becomes more and more incompatible with your current hardware and software. Virtualization becomes harder since bugs and slowdowns would severely hamper your ability to provide a smooth multiuser experience.

Upgrading Benefits to Windows Server 2008

Upgrading to Windows Server 2016 provides companies with access to features allowing them to build an IT Infrastructure capable of meeting the demands of today’s digital business space. Imagine not having to hear the words, “Our system can’t handle it,” when a great idea is proposed involving technology that moves the company forward.

Here are some of the advantages gained once a company commits to installing an updated operating system to replace Windows Server 2008.

  1. More Extensive Security Protection. Windows Server 2016 provides companies with the ability to implement either single sign-on or multifactor authentication, allowing for better account protection. All of your virtualization instances receive more security from breach attempts from in and outside of your company.
  2. Expanded Cloud Capabilities. The operating system also adapts smoothly to running in a full or hybrid cloud environment. Windows Server 2016 provides an excellent on-ramp for customers looking to explore what they can do with cloud computing, including incorporating Office 365 into their workplace. The IT department can make cloud services available to individual virtual machines (VMs), which could be deployed with a lot less overhead. 
  3. Built-in Backup Services. Windows Server 2016 provides administrators with an out-of-the-box backup system. Resilient Change Tracking (RCT) allows you to perform both full and incremental backups of your VMs.

Upgrading to Windows Server 2016 allows businesses the freedom to explore software as a service (SaaS) offerings like Adobe, QuickBooks and JIRA. Your employees will appreciate the responsiveness of the new server which enables them to increase their daily output. 

Simplifying the IT Experience

Partnering with an experienced Microsoft partner to handle your Windows Server 2008 upgrade makes it a stress-free experience for your company. Simpleworks prevents your upgrade from getting bogged down in the details and handles the miscellaneous technical issues while keeping you on schedule. 

Simpleworks believes in making IT simple and effective. Our team of professionals confirms that all your processes and hardware function as they should upon completion of the new server installation. When Simpleworks handles your Windows Server upgrade, here’s a few of the many processes we cover:

  • Outlining what your final environment should look like
  • Assessing your server and cataloging everything on your network
  • Backing up your current server environment for possible rollback if you encounter issues during the transition
  • Communicating system downtimes to all affected parties
  • Installing the physical implementation of the upgrade
  • Testing all systems, applications and hardware affected by the update

Don’t continue falling behind on your Windows Server 2008 upgrade. Contact Simpleworks at (719) 476-0444 or online to get your company on track for a brighter technology outlook.


Change is never easy when it comes to technology. We all love the familiarity of the software we use, we know the navigation menu and we know the shortcuts which adds to the efficiency of our workday. But, with technology, change is inevitable, and the end of support for Windows 7 is a major change.

If you are one of the 184 million small- to mid-sized businesses still using Windows 7, it’s time to mark the date and start preparing for the transition now.

Mark the date:

January 14, 2020, Microsoft will stop supporting Windows 7.

End-of-Life Explained

Software manufacturers like Microsoft have ever-evolving code in their products. At some point, older versions of software can no longer support the technological advances supported by new solutions. So, the manufacturer moves its focus from an older product to a newer one. This usually involves ending the life of older versions. This is exactly what has happened to the Windows 7 operating system.

What happens when the EOL deadline passes for Windows 7?

  1. No new security updates or patches. This leaves any flaws in the software open for exploitation by hackers.
  2. No more Microsoft support. Without support, if you have a problem, you can’t rely on the manufacturer for help.
  3. Noncompliant with federal regulations. Unsecure software is not compliant with any federal regulation, such as HIPAA and PCI.
  4. Increased risk for your business. Personally identifiable information (PII), confidential data and financial numbers are at risk of theft.
  5. Compatibility issues. Your common line-of-business applications, such as Salesforce, QuickBooks, Office 2016, and Raiser’s Edge, will no longer work with Microsoft 7, leaving you unable to digitally communicate with clients, vendors and partners.

End-of-life issues introduce significant security risks to your organization. If you’re in a regulated industry and still using out-dated software, you’re almost certainly not in compliance with regulations. Further, if you’re still using an older operating system, it’s likely your hardware is dated as well.

Steps to Prepare for Your Windows Upgrade

The time to upgrade is now. If you wait until the end of 2019, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an IT provider with the time to deploy upgraded solutions. Other businesses are already booking-up their schedules.

The least disruptive way to upgrade your organization’s software is to do it in small groups and after-hours so only a few employees are affected as little as possible at one time. This involves a considerable amount of planning. Your IT provider must be able to understand your business tolerance for downtime.

For most small- to medium-sized businesses, the recommended upgrade option is to go from Windows 7 to Windows 10. There is the question of, “Can I upgrade to Windows 8 instead?” Well, unless you like repetitive pain, don’t do it! Windows 8 is next in line for EOL in 2023.

Simplify Your Windows 10 Upgrade  

At Simpleworks, we’ve conducted hundreds of Windows 7 to Windows 10 upgrades and have many lined up throughout 2019. Our team is experienced and certified with Microsoft applications and servers for both the cloud and on-premise solutions, and we have multiple engineers with Microsoft certifications.

The key to a successful and smooth upgrade is to work with an experienced Microsoft IT partner. Here’s a few of the planning tactics we cover to ensure a smooth transition:

  • Document your current technology environment
  • Manage the lifecycle of your hardware
    • Know their age, which are approaching EOL, etc.
  • Plan your budget accordingly
  • Manage user data
  • Backup and verify the restore
  • Stage the rollout in small groups
  • Plan the rollout during off-peak business hours
  • Communicate continuously to the client and team
  • Be available during the rollout process to troubleshoot and provide peace-of-mind

Upgrading and The Cloud

Depending on your business, it may be beneficial to move to the cloud when upgrading Windows 7. Windows 10 is cloud-ready, unlike most older operating systems. And, if you’re already using Office 365, the move is made even easier.

By turning large capital investments into predictable operating expenses, cloud solutions can improve productivity, help your budget and increase the operational maturity of your business.

Upgrading to Windows 10 with Simpleworks

At Simpleworks, we make your upgrades simple. We have proven processes and tools to automate much of the upgrade. After the upgrade, we can push the software and updates your employees need directly to their workstations. The same goes for line-of-business applications. Your business won’t be interrupted for software updates. When you partner with us, we completely handle your technology, including your upgrades and rollouts. If you’d like to learn more about simplifying your IT, contact us here or call us at 719-476-0444.

We don’t often think of it this way, but our technology providers are rather intimate with our businesses. Indeed, technology touches almost every area of our businesses – from allowing us to check our work email from our phones to securing our most confidential information. Our IT, and, thus, our IT providers, have access to the most important areas of our businesses. That means you need to be able to trust your IT provider and depend on them to be there for you when you need them most. It’s not altogether different from getting married.

However, like most relationships, it can take a while to find the right one before settling down for a future together.

6 Signs Your IT Provider May Be Wrong for You

Your IT provider will send signals about the value and future they place in your business relationship. Some will be subtle and some not so subtle:

  1. Recurrent downtime
  2. Never seeming to be able to solve the root cause of issues
  3. Leaving you on hold for support
  4. Nickel-and-diming you for every service
  5. Not helping you align your IT with your business goals
  6. Never calling to check on your IT and your needs

Don’t let your feelings get hurt. They probably treat all their clients the same way. It’s not you; it’s them.

At the same time, you don’t want to become complacent. If you’re not getting the service and proactive IT planning that your business needs to grow, it’s time to move on.

Finding the Right IT Provider for Your Business

The first thing to realize when searching for a new IT provider is that you get what you pay for. If you aren’t willing to invest in your technology, you’ll keep falling for poorly performing IT providers. Remember: the time you spend struggling with inadequate IT is time you could be spending improving your business and readying it for growth.

Once you’ve committed to investing in your technology to help your business grow, don’t fall for the first managed service provider (MSP) you meet. Do your due diligence first. Here are a few key things to consider as you search for a long-term IT partnership:

  • Talk to your peers about their experiences with IT providers. Industry peers are often great resources for insight into how an MSP performs on a daily basis. They can also help you identify MSPs you might want to begin talking to. Don’t take their word for it, though. Trust, but verify.
  • Identify your business’ needs and goals. The only way to effectively align your technology with your business plan is to review and plan ahead for the technology you’ll need. For instance, if you’re planning to hire new employees, you’ll need to also plan for more laptops, more storage, more licensesand other technical considerations.
  • Communicate your needs to prospective IT providers. Does the provider clearly understand your business goals and explain how their technology solutions will help you achieve them?
  • Look for industry-experienced MSPs. IT providers with experience in your industry, especially if you’re in a regulated industry, gives you a leg-up as they already know the requirements you must meet to comply with laws and regulations.
  • Can the provider secure your network and most confidential data? Whether it’s intellectual property or personally identifiable information, hackers are interested in the data that companies store. Your potential IT provider should be able to clearly explain how their solutions protect your business from cyberattacks.
  • Reliable, tested disaster response and backups. Any MSP you seriously consider should have experience developing disaster response plans and ensuring your backups are tested on a regular basis and working. Your backups are your last resort in the event of a disaster or cyberattack.
  • Experienced and expert staff. Does the IT provider have a strong, talented technical team with industry experience, certifications and quality toolsets for managing, tweaking, adjusting and proactively monitoring your IT environment? It should.
  • Verify. As we noted above, you should verify the information you gather by contacting the provider’s other clients and references to get a better picture of how they work.
  • Reporting and metrics. Make sure the IT provider can provide you with regular reports on their metrics for success in serving your business. An honest self-appraisal indicates an honest provider.

Comparing IT Providers – It’s Not Always Apples to Apples.

By starting your IT provider search with the questions above, the answers will help you narrow the field to those providers that better match your business. At Simpleworks, we’ve simplified managed IT from start to finish.

Our new Simple Technology Solution takes the mystery out of IT contracts:

– No hidden fees.

– What you see is what you get.

– Your IT investment is predictable.

– Our program automatically scales with your business’ needs.

Ready for a Simple Technology Solution?

When you partner with us, we completely handle the transition and employee training. We also coordinate with your former or current IT provider, so you don’t have to do anything.

If you’d like to learn more about simplifying your IT, contact us here or call us at 719-476-0444.