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Microsoft Office 2013 is the recently launched successor to the multi-functional Office 2010 suite. Office is one of the most popular productivity applications on the global market; its longevity is a testament to its user-friendly interface, power and reliability. Therefore, any changes to this much-loved format may not have been welcomed by users. However, in general, Microsoft has tinkered very little with the basics, allowing regular users of Office 2010 to progress on to the 2013 version relatively smoothly. As well as giving the suite more utility for use with touch screens and Cloud storage, the software performance has been enhanced, although this extra speed will only be truly appreciated by those who regularly work on large and complex databases.
In total, three traditional Microsoft Office 2013 suites are available; each is intended for use on just one personal computer. These are; Home and Student, Home and Business, and Professional. To cater for the volume licensing market there are the Standard and Professional Plus editions, which are aimed at large, academic or professional institutions.
Office Home and Student 2013 retails at £109.00, at the Microsoft store. This version is specifically designed for families with one computer, but a variety of demands. It includes the latest versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.
Office Home and Business 2013 retails at £219.99, at the Microsoft Store. As well as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, it includes the latest Outlook software. This version helps maximise the users working output, whilst also meeting the various needs of their family.
Office Professional 2013 retails £389.99, at the Microsoft store. This top end version is focused on serving the retail and business market. It is a comprehensive package that includes all the features of the cheaper suites, but also Publisher and Access. The Publisher application lets users design and produce a range of literature, from pamphlets to greetings cards. The Access application allows businesses to manage large databases, simplifying complex processes and saving time on repetitive tasks.
Finally, there is an additional five ‘cloud-based' Office 2013 suites, which are known as Office 365 - these include the same applications, but are only available through an annual online subscription. Subscriptions start from £79.99 per year and allow subscribers to use the software on five different devices.
Changes to Outlook 2013.
Touch mode represents one of the most significant changes to the new office experience; it caters for the growing number of devices that support this technology. There is a Quick Access toolbar, which houses the circular Touch Mode icon, along with a series of other icon-based commands. Once activated, the screens controls grow and are stretched apart, allowing an adequate distance for effective fingertip control. However, using a touch screen for Office is still somewhat cumbersome, between the onscreen keyboard and dropdown menus, screen space can become significantly obscured. Therefore, the reassuringly familiar mouse is often a preferred method of working on more detailed areas.
The Outlook is good!
The interface in Outlook uses pastel shades that are easier on the eye. Personally, I quite like the new design, but I have spoken with many users who actually dislike the new colour scheme, especially in Outlook, where the colours make it hard to differentiate between each email.
Utility is much increased. There is a quick peep option that is revealed by placing a cursor over the tabs, and larger icons located at the bottom of the screen for more straightforward navigation. However, using Touch Mode in Outlook can be challenging to say the least, and this is an area Microsoft may have to devote time to rectifying in future updates.
The Word is out.
Word is the default word processor for most users and Microsoft have added many features to this new version. Word benefits from more practical features that make using graphics a faster and less technical process. The Insert Pictures option, along with its Video counterpart, lets you place a selected file directly into the text and then adjust it in situ with a few clicks. The other big change in Word comes in its PDF formatting, these files can now be edited and saved in the same way as any other document, from within the Word suite.
Excel has a massive amount of features that are often simply overlooked by users, with the 2013 version Microsoft have sought to put an end to this. Excel will now offer intelligent options from a dropdown menu, based on the likelihood of their usefulness. You can then select from the list presented, rather than hunting around in the huge array of sections and subsections for a relevant tool. An example is PivotTables, an option that refines large amounts of diverse data into relevant chunks. Try using it with the Slicer tool to filter the information further, across any number of columns.
PowerPoint is enhanced with small but significant changes that save time when making professional looking presentations. There is now an option for an online image and video search, plus a thumbnail addition, which offers a far less fiddly approach to choosing a frame and layout for your work. In keeping with presentations made in dimly lit rooms, the theme is more muted, avoiding the bright whiteness of its predecessor. Touch capability increases the utility of PowerPoint for many users, including the conventional pinch and swipe options.
OneNote maybe the least tweaked of the major five applications. It comes complete with all the previous features, but aside from an image makeover, it's a pretty understated re-launch. You can still take notes with a stylus pen and have the device convert your notes into typed text, but the addition of SkyDrive allows this work to be accessed over all of your devices. In addition, you can now open an Excel spreadsheet in OneNote; it can then be edited and positioned with ease.
Save to the cloud with Sky Drive.
SkyDrive is a free and supplementary service, available online to any Microsoft account holder, Office 2013 provides a far greater integration that its past versions. Previously known as Windows Live SkyDrive, it has now been rebranded with a shorter and snappier title. It is a web based system of sharing, storing and synchronising files. The data can then be accessed through Microsoft Office, as well as Windows phones and other applications.
Users are offered a relatively generous 7GB of virtual space, known as Cloud storage and extra space can be bought if it is needed. The SkyDrive system completely supports and integrates with Microsoft Office and Outlook Express, meaning documents can be created and edited from within a web browser. Files are no longer anchored to a personal computer, tablet or phone. Instead they can in effect travel wherever they are needed; even personalised settings can be carried over for Windows 8 users.
Taking the plunge and switching to Microsoft Office 2013 from 2010 can offer real benefits. The five big applications, Word, Excel, Outlook, OneNote and PowerPoint have each been updated, but remain familiar enough for users with previous Office experience. The suite has also had a design makeover and the performance of the software has been considerably increased. However, if these improvements will be worth the extra finance, is a decision for each individual customer. You'll need to consider your current usage patterns and projected future needs, as well as whether you have the time and inclination to engage with the suites new characteristics.
+ Clean Intuitive interface
+ Touch screen compatibility
+ Great range of templates across all applications
+ Some great new features
+ Incompatible with Windows XP (you will need either Windows 7 or Windows 8)
+ Touch mode can be a bit temperamental
+ New design is not everyone's cup of tea. Try before you buy!
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Cake image is property of Our IT Department Ltd. No cake was consumed during the making of this blog entry!
Back in 2010, Apple waged war against bad quality phone displays by introducing the revolutionary ‘retina display', which was housed in its new mind-child, the Apple iPhone 4. Until then,screen resolutions on mobile phones were simply considered as boring numerical figures on the spec sheet, dictated mainly by the screen size. Apple multiplied the standard pixel count, taking it from 480 x 320 to over 960 x 640 pixels.
The idea behind the birth of retina display was to make it impossible for the human eyes to discern pixels from a regular viewing distance. Soon, this technology was naturally applied to other Apple hardware platforms, including the third-generation iPad and the MacBook Pro.
On June 1st 2012, Apple continued its hardware evolution by launching the all-new 15-inch MacBook Pro with retina display. Ever since the launch of the 15-inch stable mate last summer, there have been rumors all over about the launch of the 13-inch variant that seemed to be an obvious move. Breaking the silence, Apple unveiled the 13-inch MacBook Pro with a retina display during the Apple Keynote held in October last year. MacBook MD212B/A is the latest smaller variant of the 15-inch model, with all the specs and features packed in a slim blade-like chassis. This is exactly what every MacBook seeker was looking forward to.
Is a retina display the way forward?
Once a person gets used to the avant-garde retina display, there is no going back to the older screens. After using this notebook, everything else ranks second on the best list, except its 15-inch elder brother. With a much affordable price tag, the users are perhaps eyeing just the dazzling 2560 x 1600 display. Now that things are being unwrapped, does it live up to the expectations? Read on further to know the secrets.
Hardware and Design
Starting with the size and weight, the 13-inch MacBook Pro with retina display lies between the slender MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro that comes with a non-retina display. The groundbreaking device weighs 3.57 lbs. and is just 0.75 inches thick. It is about 20 % thinner and a pound lighter than the non-retina display member of the family.
Interesting enough, Apple's new mind-child is only half a pound heavier and 0.07-inch thicker than the 13-inch MacBook Air. These specs make it feel amazing in the hands and utterly comfortable on the lap. Similar to MacBook Air, the retina display variant replaces the obsolete optical drive with an all-new speed SSD (solid-state drive). One would, however, need to invest in an external DVD drive, as this one does not have one onboard.
The design of the Retina Pro model will be very familiar to a hard-core Apple user. It is a lot thinner than the non-retina version and possesses the same responsive backlit keyboard backlit, multi-touch track-pad and a startling aluminum build. Apple has peeled off the excess millimeters from around the screen, keyboard and the trackpad area, thereby giving more focus on the cutting-edge design and the less space occupancy in the backpack. On both the sides, the Retina Pro possess 2 USB 3.0 ports, 2 Thunderbolt ports, 1 HDMI port, 1 SDXC memory card slot, MagSafe 2 port for new T -shape charger, and a stereo-supporting headphone jack.
The retina display alone is capable of enticing the laptop users to invest in the new 13-inch MacBook Pro. All the 4096000 pixels contribute to make the Retina Pro one of Apple's best products to date. Though the display gets a somewhat less number of pixels per inch in comparison to the third- and fourth-generation Apple iPads, it is not really visible to the casual eyes. In reality, it appears much sharper than the iPad retina displays. This is probably because of the fact that the laptop screen sits 8-10 inches away from the human eye, which is not usually the case with tablets.
Users can clearly differentiate between the experience of viewing pictures in the 8-million pixel retina display and a standard display. The retina display gives a new definition to image sharpness, and watching videos and text from all probable viewing angles. Since the retina display is still a pretty new entrant in the market, various third-party applications like Office, Evernote and Chrome have been boosted to support the high resolution display. There are still a good number of non-retina applications that appear horrible and out of place on the new display, however, you will gladly put up with the odd glitch app, just to experience what is the future of monitor technology.
With the Retina MacBook Pro comes an inbuilt 720p Face time camera for making high-definition video calls. In a well-lit room, it works amazingly well. However, the image gets noisy if one is completely relying on sunlight or a cloudy day light.
In terms of performance, the Retina Display MacBook pro is quite similar to the non-retina variant, with the only exception of the zippy Solid-state drive.
Technically speaking, the 2.5 GHz Core i5 processor backed by 8GB 1600MHz DDR3 Ram, 128 GB flash storage and Intel HD4000 GPU, is capable of rocking the grounds of other high-end contenders available in the market. With all the essential day-to-day applications running in the background, the notebook computer performs exceptionally well. The quick boot and sleep wake-up, along with the instant application loading make it a top choice for everyday use.
According to Apple estimates, the Retina MacBook Pro is capable of lasting up to 7 hours, which is definitely not too far from real-life results. The daily routine work of reading, writing, editing and browsing, with a brightness level between 50-70 %, can be carried on for over six and a half hours on the laptop before the battery becomes weak.
There are many accessories available to complement the MacBook, the Apple Store is a fantastic resource for laptop bags, sleeves protective shells and additional peripherals, many creative minds are behind some of the most stylish Mac accessories on the market.
If you are looking for a high quality laptop bag then look no further than Crumpler. They supply a wide range of bags that are suitable for the 13" Retina MacBook, including the lightweight ‘Private Surprise Sling' and the sensible ‘Slip' screen protector. Their product range features some of the most attractive laptop bag designs I have ever seen. The full range can be found on their official website - http://www.crumpler.eu/
The Final Verdict.
The 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro has not quite reached the pockets of daily laptop users. In the price territory, Apple MacBook Air still has held its flag firm and high. It is not as powerful as the new retina family member and does not boast a high-end display. However, it is still slimmer and lighter than the new variant and also offers a better battery life. However, this surely isn't a reason to avoid investing in the 13-inch MacBook Pro with a retina display.
The new member of the MacBook family is simply a beautiful and amazingly-designed small, portable device. The quality of images on a high-definition display and the high-end daily performance graph make it a perfect player for the long run.
With high-end technology backing it, it is a nice investment for several Apple enthusiasts who eagerly wait with bated breath for the company's next product. Apart from the winning formula of those 409,6000 pixels, the device is utterly slim, light and faster, especially when compared to its counterparts.
Though the display is not much bigger, it is surely a better leap as against the basic MacBook Pro cousins and the other ultra-portable notebooks available in the market. With a slightly higher investment, this device is a sure shot success and a highly recommended device.
+ You will not find a better quality display on any other laptop
+ Fantastic build quality
+ Excellent overall performance
+ Good battery life
- Cost. When compared to other high specification 13" laptops on the market, the MacBook Pro is an expensive investment.
About Our IT Department.
Our IT Department is a Professional IT Suppport company based in the heart of London. We provide Business IT Servies to both Windows and Apple Mac users. Find out more about our Apple Mac Support serviecs
Microsoft has announced that the RT verison of Microsoft Surface will be made available to an additional four countries by the end of May/early June. The four lucky countries are Malaysia (launching on April 25th) Mexico (end of May) and Korea and Thailand (June).
The expansion of sales will see Microsoft Surface readily available in 29 countries worldwide. In addition to the above, the Pro version of Microsoft surface will be made available to the following 19 countries by the end of June:
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, HongKong, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Holland, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and last but not least, the UK!
128 GB Surface availability.
There has been much frustration across the pond surrounding the availability of the 128Gb version of Surface Pro. Microsoft has stated that it is working hard to increase availability and most retailers across America & Canada should now have sufficient stock. Let's hope that the same problem doesn't ‘surface' over here in the UK (sorry, couldnt resist)
On the subject of Microsoft in the UK, when is the corporation going to launch a retail store in London? A dedicated retail outlet in the capital is well overdue and it would be great to visit a dedicated store that has every Microsoft product under one roof.
Visit the official blog to find out more about the Microsoft Surface Pro - http://blog.surface.com/
Our IT Department supply, deploy and maintain Microsoft Surface tablet devices and other Windows 8 devices for business use. Contact us if you would like to find out more about using Microsoft Surface in the workplace.
Microsoft has been hard at work preparing for a 'Microsoft account upgrade' that is due to be rolled out over the next couple of days. The upgrade will include a new a new ‘two-step' verification solution that adds an additional layer of security for over 700 million users that access various MS resources via their Microsoft account worldwide.
What is two-step verification?
Two-step verification is not new. Microsoft implemented the service last year for selected activities that were considered to be more sensitive (like changing credit card information for example), but the latest security update will allow you to setup an additional layer of security for your entire Microsoft account.
How does it work?
When logging into your Microsoft account, you will be asked for two pieces of security information. For example, his information could be your password, plus a code that is sent to your mobile phone via Microsoft's new authentication app, or a code that is emailed to the secondary email address on your account. If you decide to setup two-step verification then you need to ensure that you have at least two pieces of security information on file.
Do I really want to do this everytime I sign into my computer?
Granted, two-step could get annoying if you had to use it on a device that you access regularly, such as a work Pc for example. Microsoft has accounted for this and has made it possible for you to setup ‘favorite devices', giving you the option to not ask for security codes. All you need to do is use a one-time code that is sent to your phone/email from the selected device or browser; once the code is used then this device will be remembered as a trusted device.
You can remove trusted devices from your Microsoft Account security settings.
How to setup two-step verification.
At some point in the next couple of days you will be able to setup two-step verification by visiting the following URL - https://account.live.com/proofs/Manage
The service is optional, but If you use your Microsoft account for accessing data from multiple platforms (Windows PC, phone Xbox etc) then it would be wise to add an additional level of security.
More information about the next security update can be found on the official Microsoft Blog - http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_blog/archive/2013/04/17/microsoft-account-gets-more-secure.aspx
Article by Our IT Department, a Professional IT Support Organisation in London.
The end of Support from Microsoft for Windows 7 without a service pack is fast approaching!
As of April 9 2013, anyone using the RTM (Release to Manufacturing) version of Windows 7 without service pack 1 installed will no longer be entitled to support from Microsoft.
It is highly unlikely that anyone will be using the RTM version of the operating system, as most users have Windows 7 configured to update automatically. However it is worth remembering that support for all versions of Windows ends 24 months after the release date.
Services Pack 1 for Windows 7 was released back in February 2011; which means that we will all be entitled to free support until January 13th 2015.
There has been no official comment from Microsoft about a second service pack for Windows 7. The rumor mill suggests that Microsoft is considering doing away with Services packs and implementing a new update mode, refreshing the existing operating system instead of launching a brand new one every two to three years.
For more information, visit the Microsoft Springboard blog here.
A Blog Entry from Our IT Department a Professional IT Support Company based in London.
Our very own freshly baked branded cookies arrived in the office this morning, I thought that I would take a quick picture before they all get eaten!!!
A Blog Entry from Our IT Department a Professional IT Support Company based in London.
This year’s Briforum conference is to be held at the St Pauls’ Conference center in Aldersgate, London. The conference takes place between 16-17th May 2013.
With a key focus on VDI and consumerisation, the independent Virtualization conference is now in its eighth year. Attendees will have access to over 30 technical sessions hosted by a number of respected independent virtualization experts. Enterprise Mobility Management, the consumerisation of IT and desktop virtualization are three of the main subjects to be discussed at this year’s event
The 2013 agenda has now been announced on the official Briforum website – click here to view the full agenda.
If you have an interest in virtualization technologies then you will not want to miss this show. Attending the show isn’t cheap, with prices starting from £595 per person, but discounts are available for groups of 3 or more people.
Venue address - 200 Aldersgate Street, London EC1A 4HD
Our IT Department is a Professional IT Support Company based in London. We specialise in delivering Virtualization technologies to small businesses in and around Greater London. Contact us today to find out more.
The Princes Trust and Pop Star Will.i.am have joined forces in an effort to try and address the current lack of computing skills in the younger generation.
Although they are not the most likely of partners, it seems as though both parties share a common ground. Last year, Will.i.am, donated £500,000 to the Princes Trust; this money will be used for projects that focus on improving the STEM skills of the younger generation (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
According to recent research conducted by the Princes Trust, over one in ten young people feel that their computer skills are not good enough for the jobs they wish to apply for. This data was obtained from interviews conducted with 1378 British 15-25 year olds.
Out of the 1378 people interviewed:
The above research was released in collaboration with a new scheme that has been launched by the prince's trust. The scheme will see science Museum staff attend Princes Trust clubs that are held at various schools around the country; with an aim to introduce science and technology to students who are at risk of underachievement or exclusion from school.
For more information about the scheme, visit the princes trust website.
Article from Our IT Department Ltd. A Professional IT Support Organization based in Central London.
Our IT Department is delighted to show its continued support for Best Paws Forward 2013, a sponsored dog walk organized in aid of Cancer Research UK by the North London Fundraising Group.
Our IT Department is once again proud to be a main sponsor of this fantastic event. Last year, forty dogs and their owners raised an amazing £8000 for Cancer Research UK by taking part in the 5km dog walk. We hope that this year's event will be even more successful!
This year's walk is scheduled to take place on Sunday 9 June 2013 at 10am at Highgate Woods, Highgate, N10 3JN. Please note that the event is limited to 100 dogs. The entry fee is £8.00 and all proceeds are donated to Cancer Research UK.
We hope you can join us for a fun-filled afternoon with fantastic prizes, including a raffle prize of a pet photography session with a professional photographer, and more attractions on the day.
Visit the following page to register - http://supportus.cancerresearchuk.org/events/charity-walks/BPFHighgate2013
For more information on the event visit the official Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/BPFHighgate
Or visit the North London fundraising Group official website - http://www.cancerresearchuknorthlondonfundraisinggroup.org