Say Goodbye To Owning Microsoft Office

Jason Cooley is Support Services Manager for Tech Experts.

In the workplace, some would say there is nothing as important as ensuring your productivity. Working with computers is likely a part of your job to some degree. If you are working in an office setting, you likely spend a large amount of time on computers.

There is no doubt a difference in daily tasks between different fields, but there are also many similarities. No matter your industry, you are likely familiar with Microsoft Office programs. Excel, Word, and Outlook are the most commonly used software from the Microsoft Office suite.

Microsoft Office is not cheap. Many businesses will use their current version until it is no longer supported. If 30 users need a new version of Office or a subscription, it has been more cost effective in the past to purchase a copy of the program to use for years until the software becomes unsupported.

This is all going to change. Recently, Microsoft made the announcement regarding the newest version of Exchange Server, their mail server platform.

“This is going to be a version of Exchange that will only be available with the purchase of a subscription,” said Greg Taylor, director of product marketing for Exchange.

This applies to Exchange server, but also applies to Office as they try to move to a month-to-month, pay-as-you-go service. Email hosting and all of your apps are now something you can’t own.

This can result in one of two things, depending on your business. It could be the perfect time to start moving your employees over to the month-to-month model if they aren’t already subscribed.

Alternatively, it can be a burden on someone who will need to switch many users to the pay-by-month model. Microsoft wants the recurring revenue generated in a subscription service, and they don’t mind forcing you into it.

While the announcement came originally involving Exchange server, the end result is the same: Microsoft will make you switch, and it won’t be a choice anymore. For Exchange, 2019 Exchange server will be the last in the line that you can purchase and own.

Once that is out of the support window, you would need to move your licensing to the new subscription model.

As this applies to Office as well, many people may worry about when the changes will need to occur. The changes will not need to be made any time soon if you just purchased, say, Office 2019. You will have a few more years (likely three to four, based on past end of support dates) before you have to pull the trigger.

However, users holding out with Office 2013 will have to make a decision a lot sooner as the security updates end.

The switch to a subscription model is for Microsoft’s benefit. Assuming you used your Office software for five years, you will end up paying more for the new subscription service over those five years.

On the other side of things, you will always have the newest version of Office available to you as every major update and every new version is included.

While it is not an immediate concern, you should start to consider what your Office needs are as time moves forward. Like the rest of the world, Microsoft is always changing.

What Are The Advantages Of Office 2019?

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

As an IT service company, we get asked this question almost every day. Now that it’s available, everyone wants to know what Office 2019 is all about. Office 2019 provides a subset of features that Microsoft has been adding to Office 365 over the past three years.

Office 2019 is a local version of Office software, rather than cloud-based. It’s a perpetual release, meaning that you purchase the product once and own it forever instead of paying for a subscription or subscriptions to use it.

Who Will Benefit From Using Office 2019?

Although anyone can purchase Office 2019, this version has been designed for business users. It comes with volume licensing and is best for companies that don’t want to use the cloud-based version of Office. You can also install the Office 2019 app on all your mobile devices, where you’ll have access to its basic features. [Read more…]

Attackers Embed Malware In Microsoft Office Documents To Bypass Browser Security

Chris Myers is a field service technician for Tech Experts.

Cyber attacks continue to increase at a rapid rate. In 2016, there were 6,447 software security vulnerabilities found or reported to authorities. In 2017, that number rose to 14,714, more than double the previous year. Halfway through 2018, we are at 8,177 with no signs of slowing.

One of the biggest avenues of attacks is Adobe Flash Player, which has been a leading source of vulnerabilities for over 20 years.

Modern browsers have been phasing out Adobe Flash over the past 5 years. In December 2016, Google Chrome completely disabled Flash Player by default.

Mozilla Firefox started to block the most vulnerable parts of Flash Player by default in 2016 and 2017.

The latest Flash Player vulnerability, designated CVE-2018-5002 by Adobe, aims to circumvent those browser changes by hiding the attack in a Microsoft Excel file, which is then distributed by targeted emails disguised as legitimate bulletins from hiring websites.

To hide this from anti-virus software, the hackers went another step further by not including the malicious code directly in the Excel file. Instead, they just embed a small snippet that tells the file to load a Flash module from somewhere else on the Internet. Due to this, the file appears to be a normal Excel document with Flash controls to anti-virus applications.

CVE-2018-5002 is what’s known as a Zero Day vulnerability, which means it was used by attackers before it was discovered and patched.

This particular vulnerability appears to have been used in the Middle East already.

In one instance, businesses in Qatar received an email that mimicked “,” a Middle Eastern job search website. The attackers sent the email from “”

With Doha being the capitol of Qatar, it was easy to assume that dohabayt was simply an extension of the main website.

However, a true branch of, known as a subdomain, would be separated by a period like so: Once the target was tricked into opening the email, they were directed to download and open the attached Microsoft Excel file named “Salaries.”

This was a normal-looking table of average Middle Eastern job salaries, but in the background, the attack was already going to work.

How To Avoid Being Infected
The fake email scenario described above is known as phishing. Phishing is the attempt to disguise something as legitimate to gain sensitive information or compromise their computer.

The word phishing is a homophone of fishing, coined for the similarity of using bait in an attempt to catch a victim.

The attack described above was a type of phishing known as spear phishing, where the attacker tailored their methods specifically to the intended victim.

They disguised the email as a local site used for job or employee hiring, and the file as a desirable database of salary information.

Phishing emails are most easily identified by checking the sender’s email address. Look at the unbroken text just before the “.com”.

If this is not a website known to you or if it contains gibberish such as a random string of numbers and letters, then the email is almost always fake.

While the attack above was sophisticated, most phishing emails simply try to trick the user by saying things like “Your emails have been blocked, click here to unblock them” or “Click here to view your recent order” when you did not actually order anything.

Always be vigilant. When in doubt, forward the email to your IT department or provider for them to check the email for viruses or other threats.

The Reality Of Microsoft EOL Software

Scott Blake is a Senior Network Engineer with Tech Experts.

As in life, all good things come to an end. This fact is also true in the software world. When a software company decides to move on from outdated versions of its software they schedule an EOL or End of Life date.

This is set to allow businesses and home users time to plan and ready themselves to upgrade to the most recent versions.

With 90% of the world’s computers running some form of Microsoft software, no other company in the world has more of an impact when setting EOL dates than Microsoft.

From Office software suites to operating systems for desktops and servers (and even cross platforms such as Office for Apple-based computers), Microsoft software is everywhere.

This alone is the number one reason for preparing and upgrading before an EOL date is upon you. There is no greater example of this as when the EOL date for Windows XP arrived.

Companies that made the migration to Windows 7 well in advance were able to test their company software and hardware, as well as communicate with their vendors to secure working upgrades to both. Those that didn’t suffered productivity and business loss due to unneeded and unplanned downtime to make the necessary upgrades and changes.

But for the basic home user, this was a time of doubt. Many users didn’t want to (or have the means to) replace all of the outdated hardware or software.

Spending several hundred dollars on new software and hardware just to be able to receive security updates and patches seemed a little excessive to most home users.

However, keeping security and your data safe is another reason to make sure you make migration plans.

In most cases when an EOL date has come and gone, so has any and all support for your software and hardware. Other software and hardware vendors will soon follow suit and discontinue support for their products that are installed on systems running non-supported software, including operating systems.

Anti-virus software companies are usually the first to discontinue their support. After all, if the operating system is no longer receiving updated security patches, it becomes difficult to continue to support their software.

Computer systems running EOL software will become major targets for hackers and malicious malware. Your personal data will be at risk.

The truth is it’s not the intent of companies like Microsoft to be malicious when ending support for their products.

No matter how popular they may be throughout the world, it’s a business decision. For any company to grow, they must keep developing and growing their products.

This development and growth is expensive and requires a large percentage of their resources. Continuing to support outdated software and hardware would limit these resources.

This would cause development overhead to rise and, in turn, make that $39 inkjet printer cost $89 or raise the price of that $119 operating system to $199.

By ending support and moving forward, companies such as Microsoft are able to develop new and exciting hardware and software for both the largest of companies and the smallest home user while keeping prices affordable to all.

Some important future EOL dates to keep in mind:

July 15, 2015
The end for support for Microsoft Server 2003 and 2003 R2

April 10, 2017
The end of support for Windows Vista (all versions)

October 10, 2017
The end of support for Microsoft Office 2007 (all versions)

January 14, 2020
The end of support for Server 2008

October 13, 2020
The end of support for Microsoft Office 2010 (all versions)

Office 365 Or Office 2013: Which Is Right For You?

by Jeremy Miller, Technician
You’ve probably heard a lot of things in the news about Microsoft’s Office 365.

Let’s explain the difference between Office 365, and the traditional version of Microsoft Office you’re used to using on your computer.

Standard versions of Office 2013 are licensed or boxed product. You can purchase a license to this product from any local or online retailer.

Office 365 is a subscription based product. You purchase this license either monthly or annually. You can also use this product on more than one computer and it is transferrable to other computers. This license is not transferrable to another user.

You should know right away both versions of Office will not run on any Windows Operating system prior to Windows 7.

The Office 2013 license is very straight forward: You simply install Office like you always have. However, unlike previous Office versions, you cannot remove it and install it on another computer.

The Office 365 license is much more malleable, and is licensed and sold by version. Office 365 comes in four versions: Home Premium, Small Business, Midsize Business, and Enterprise. Office 365 is licensed per user.

Office 365 Home Premium comes with Word, Excel, Power Point, One Note, Outlook, Publisher, Access, 20 GB of Skydrive cloud storage, and 60 minutes of calling if you have a Skype account. This version is not available to businesses.

Office 365 Small Business includes everything Home Premium has plus Microsoft Lync and business email which will offer 25 GB per month, and many other features.

Office 365 Midsize Business requires an annual commitment. This version will allow you to have up to 300 users. This has everything Small Business has plus Microsoft InfoPath.

Office 365 Enterprise also requires an annual commitment, but there are no limits as to the number of users you can have.

This version has everything that Midsize Business has plus Unified Discovery, Data Loss Prevention, and Role-based access.

Unified Discovery will allow you to search across Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync.

With Role-Based access you can control access and assign it to different groups.

You can create data loss prevention polices and templates for protecting sensitive information. These features will aid in keeping your business compliant with various regulatory requirements.

Choosing your version of Office is pretty straightforward. If you’re a light Office user, or only use a few features of Office then Office 2013 is best for you. You can choose which version you need based on the Office tools that you use.

If your company uses many features of Office, and you want to avoid large upfront software costs, then Office 365 is your best bet.

You will still be able to use Office 365 with no Internet connection. It does require an Internet connection to install and sync, however, and of course for email access.

You can access Office from anywhere using Office on Demand, which is not full-featured, but will allow you to read and edit documents.

Office 365 is the best bet for small and growing companies. You can add and remove new users and computers.

When you upgrade computers you will be able to remove Office from the old computer to install on a new computer.

You will also get more features like business email and calendars, a public website, team sites, web conferencing, and instant messaging.

If your company needs any help making a decision about which version of Office would best suit you, or if you would like help installing and configuring Office, please give us a call. We’d be happy to help.

What To Expect As Office 2013 Releases To The Public

by Jeremy Miller, Technician
The arrival of the new Office Suite is upon us. There are myriad of new features and experiences in Office 2013.

A new Office suite means there are upgrades, new features and tools to learn the locations of. Thankfully Microsoft has done their homework before putting out this Edition of Office.

Microsoft Office will be released later this month. Microsoft has paid attention to what customers want while developing this suite without sacrificing what they need.

Microsoft has mildly changed the user interface to a “Windows 8 Style theme with the option to make slight customizations to make your Office experience more personal.

Office will be available in either a local installation or through Microsoft’s Office 365 service for a monthly fee.

Microsoft has integrated the ability to sign in directly to Office using your Microsoft Account credentials.

This is one of the ways that Microsoft has integrated Office with the cloud. Logging into Office allows you to save any file from Office directly to your Microsoft SkyDrive with the cloud-storage included with all Microsoft Accounts.

You can also add additional locations for online storage or share your documents directly to social sites like: Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

Another new aspect of Office is the ability to integrate apps into all products in the Office suite.

You may have been familiar with this feature if you have used Outlook 2010. You may now add apps to one of the programs in the Office 2013 suites.

Also when you launch any one of the programs in the Office suite you will now open a landing page that will ask you what type of document that you wish to create from a blank document to anyone of the many templates included.

Microsoft has released the Application Programming Interface (API) for Office 2013, this will allow software developers to write applications that will integrate directly into Office.

This will give you the ability to customize Office to any company’s specific needs. The developer then has the ability to publish and sell their apps on the Office and SharePoint store.

This gives Office 2013 a flexible lifecycle since the software will be constantly growing and integrating new useful features.

In Office 2013 there is a tool available to measure your usage across the entire Office suite. This will be useful if you need to identify the most used solution or to create macros to increase the workflow that a user can handle.

One of the largest improvements in Office is within Word. Microsoft has finally included in its own software the ability to read, modify and create Protected Document Files (PDF). Until now you were required to download a PDF reader such as Adobe Reader to view PDF files.

Office has been modified to create a more stable user experience. Since you now sign into Office it will remember your preferences, settings, and files.

This will make your Office experience similar on every computer or device that you use. As long as you have saved your documents to the cloud you will be able to access them from any computer with an Internet connection.

If you are interested in upgrading to Office 2013 then please contact us. We can give you a better idea if upgrading is the best option for you or your organization. We can also help you plan and implement the migration if you choose to upgrade to Microsoft Office 2013.

Five Microsoft Office Add-ins Help Improve Productivity

If your company does any type of word processing, data spreadsheets, or even use email then you probably know the benefits of having Microsoft Office.

Did you know that you can enhance your experience by using third party add-ins? An add-in is a mini program which runs in conjunction with a web browser or other application that enhances the functionality of that program.

Here is a list of add-ins for the Microsoft Office Suite. Keep reading to learn about some of the add-ins available to make your everyday tasks easier!

Duplicates Remover for Microsoft Outlook
Duplicates Remover is a powerful and flexible plug-in for Microsoft Outlook intended for the search and deletion of duplicated items in Microsoft Outlook folders.

Duplicates Remover can search in single folders as well as different folders for any duplicates. Duplicated items can then be set to automatically be copied or moved to another folder of your choice, marked with a flag letting you know that item already exists somewhere in another folder, or simply deleted.

Microsoft Mathematics Add-In for Word and OneNote
Microsoft Mathematics Add-in for Word and OneNote makes it easy to plot graphs in 2D and 3D, calculate numerical results, solve equations or inequalities, and simplify algebraic expressions in your Word documents and OneNote notebooks.

Microsoft Mathematics Add-in can add a little extra help when planning your budget for next year, or simply create great visuals using its graphing feature.

SendLater for Microsoft Outlook
SendLater is an easy-to-use and convenient email scheduler with a recurring email option. It allows you to schedule automatic email, follow up and handle your email correspondence in a timely manner even if you are away from your computer.

It also allows you to send a delayed group message as a single email to all recipients or use the “Send personally” feature to conceal any information about other recipients of the same group message.

In this case the recipient will only see his/her name and address in the To, CC or BCC fields, as if the message has been sent to the recipient personally.

Ultimate Add-in for Microsoft Excel
The ultimate Add-in for Microsoft Excel includes a general collection of over 90 different utilities and more than 30 custom written functions to help make life with Excel a little easier. Ultimate Add-in will allow you to customize the menu to bring all of the menu settings in one place to easily show/hide the items you want.

Ultimate Add-in can also optimize your workbooks, rebuilding the whole data spreadsheets and saving the components to a series of files and reloading them into a blank sheet. Serious file space can be saved by using this utility.

Attachments Forget Reminder for Microsoft Outlook
Attachments Forget Reminder is a powerful Microsoft Office Outlook Add-In. It scans each outgoing email and if it finds any of the specified key phrases (e.g., “see attachment” or “in the attached file”).

If no file is attached to the message, the program will give out a notification. It then asks you if you meant to attach a fi le before sending the email, giving you a chance to insert the attachment. The add-in works with Plain Text, RTF, or HTML based email formats.

There is many more add-ins that you can install to improve functionality within the Office suite programs, these are just some of the few I like.

Go ahead and search online for yourself and see if you can find some good add-ins that makes your job simpler!

Office 2010: Definitely Worth Upgrading Your System

Now that Office 2010 is available, companies should consider whether to invest in the latest version of the software. My answer is: It depends, with a strong leaning toward “yes!”

The “it depends” part considers the current state of your business’ hardware, what version of Office you are currently using, how your firm’s other software applications integrate with an upgrade and most importantly, your technology budget.

Office 2010: The Latest
According to Microsoft, the Office 2010 suite is designed to make work flows more efficient; to effectively use Web applications to make work available anywhere; and to make collaboration with others much easier.

When considering whether to upgrade to Office 2010, Outlook’s integration with Exchange Server 2010 may be a consideration or some firms.

Exchange Server 2010 is designed to reduce deployment costs; simplify high availability and disaster recovery, ease administration and provide greater mobility and flexible access.

Your Hardware and Operating Systems
For some, the decision about whether to upgrade to Office 2010 may depend on where your business is in its hardware life cycle. If you have older machines that might not support the increased hardware requirements of Office 2010, it is probably best to wait for the upgrade to coincide with your hardware refresh.

For businesses that still use Windows XP, upgrading to 2010 may not be an option, since the newest software program will probably not run efficiently on the older operating system.

Your Current Version of Office
Many companies are still using Office 2000 or Office 2003, so their choices may be between forging ahead with Office 2007 or jumping straight to Office 2010.

The learning curve is an issue to consider. Office 2007 and Office 2010 are strikingly different from the 2003 version, while Office 2010 has a more similar look and feel to Office 2007.

This is particularly true when it comes to the “ribbon,” the Office Fluent User Interface that replaced the traditional menu and toolbars in Office 2007.

Firms that are upgrading from Office 2007 to 2010 will have fewer training issues than those that are still using Office 2003 or Office 2000.

Integration Issues
Integration issues should always be a concern for any business considering new technologies.

Integration with your billing, document management, client relationship management, and calendaring software should all be considered. Often, third-party applications will require patches or updates in order to work seamlessly with Office 2010.

Communicate beforehand with your vendors to ensure that all applications will function without a hitch during and after the installation of Office 2010.

Proper planning is key, but so is testing. Testing should include both compatibility and usability.

The staff that will use the software should have an opportunity to examine it – they’ll be the best judge of how much additional training will be required.

Budgetary Issues
Now more than ever, small businesses need to get the biggest bang for their technology buck. It is not the time to roll out a new software program that may be buggy or have integration issues.

For firms with limited IT budgets, the more-proven Office 2007 could be the smarter choice, especially if the new version of Office is purchased with Microsoft Software Assurance, which gives you upgrade rights in the future to Office 2010.

Regardless of the decision your firm makes about upgrading to Office 2010, preparation is the key.

You’ll need to prepare your staff for any changes and plan for a reduction in productivity during the intial roll out.

Planning is extremely important, to ensure that the integration proceeds smoothly and the firm employees can reap all of the benefits they expect – and that they have paid for.