Category Archives: Microsoft

Are En Pointe and Consistent Computer Bargains Inc. shilling reviews on Microsoft’s Website?

I’ve been checking out Office 365 as I mentioned in this post.  Part of that is finding the right Microsoft Partner to help me out.  When I click on “Top Cloud Partners” I get a list of MS partners.  In that list it tells you how many reviews they have and the star rating.  En Pointe has 207 reviewsCCB has 153.  If you look that’s far more than anyone except two other companies which also have suspect reviews.

What do En Pointe and CCB have in common and why do I think someone is shilling?  They have lots of reviews in the last couple months.  They have multiple reviews every few days.  The reviews are completely positive with nothing negative to say.  They are almost all 5 stars.  And in En Pointe’s case, the usernames mostly follow the same pattern of names and numbers (name1234).

I’m not saying they are shilling, but shilling is a common game on the internet.  En pointe’s reviews sure do quack like a duck and walk like a duck.

Microsoft should pay attention to their review system to make sure that companies aren’t fraudulently boosting themselves.

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Office 365: First Impressions

I’ve been hearing about Office 365, so I signed up and am giving it a whirl.  There’s much to talk about, but here’s some notable first impressions:

  • BES is not supported.  I don’t know if there’s a way to integrate BES servers into your environment, but MS doesn’t support BES.  You can connect a Blackberry using IMAP.  If you do that, you have to sync contacts and calendars manually.  ActiveSync is fully supported.
  • If you have Office 2010 Professional Plus installed and integrated with Office 365, you cannot use web apps.  You have to use the installed apps and then save into Sharepoint.
  • Office Web Apps are significantly stripped down versions of the Office Apps.  They will probably be fine for most Office users, but this should be understood before making choices.
  • Office Web Apps can be used in IE, Firefox,  and Safari.  I haven’t tested Chrome, but I’m sure that works too.
  • It appears that Live Meeting has been rolled into Lync.  That’s great!
  • Lync can be accessed using OWA, but it’s a stripped down version.
  • Sharepoint Workspace is probably the best way to connect into Sharepoint file stores, but it is possible to map drives into the file stores.  I doubt this is advisable.
  • It’s possible to pick individual Office 365 services instead of the designated “plans.”  This ala carte ordering system allows you to spend as little as $2 a month for Lync only or as much as you’d like.  The nice thing about this is that if you are already licensed for Office 2010 Professional Plus, you can pick plan E2 and add-on services thus saving $12 per user per month (for Office).
  • Exchange Online Archiving is $4 per user per month.  I think that’s a good price.
  • Office 365 is a very powerful service.  It enables organizations to quickly put up Exchange and Sharepoint environments in very little time.  Office 365 can be about as simple or as complex as the user needs.

That’s pretty much it for now off the top of my head.  I recommend organizations of all sizes become knowledgable in the capabilities of Office 365.  It gives companies the ability to replace significant amounts of infrastructure with a very capable service.  And for small companies it puts them on a level playing field with the big boys.  I hate to say it, but once it’s rolled out, it requires very little back-end IT attention.

www.office365.com

Office 365 Buyers Guide (in .xps format for some bizarre reason)

I’m pretty sure IE9 sucks

I have been a loyal IE user since Windows 95.  I even had IE installed on my iMac back in the 90’s.  I’ve stuck with IE on Windows 7 even though I have Firefox and Chrome installed.  IE just doesn’t work in every situation.  For some reason I can’t edit forms properly on some sites.  I’ve noticed this on Invision Power Board based sites.  There are other sites where the menus won’t load right or the ads are in the wrong spots.  It’s very annoying.  I try the same site on Chrome and magically it works!

One of the most peculiar IE9 issues I run into is with ConstantContact.com.  Constant Contact tells me that I’m using IE7!  WTF?  I know this is ConstantContacts fault, but that’s pretty messed up.

Microsoft likes to compare their browser to Chrome and Firefox.  They claim they have more features.  Good for them, but the basic features DON’T WORK!

I think I need to change browsers.

Gray “X’s” when navigating network shares

I had a user getting grey X’s when accessing a network share.  I tried some of the standard fixes including trying to get to other mapped drives, the internet, logoff-logon.  Nothing worked.  I started searching and found this post from SevenForums.  I tried it and it worked…

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Windows 7 Imaging Product Key Error Message

I am using Microsofts imaging (Imagex.exe) tools to set up Windows 7 Machines.  I have switched between Enterprise and Professional versions of Windows 7.  It turns out the imaging tools don’t like that.

If you get error “the product key entered does not match any of the Windows images available for installation” Go to the ei.cfg file in installation files and change the version from Enterprise to Professional or other way around.

Update the BIOS before installing Windows 7 on a Dell Optiplex 760

I tried installing Windows 7 Enterprise x64 on a Dell Optiplex 760.  I used the Windows Media.  The installation was so slow that I didn’t let it complete.  I tried a 32bit version and there was no difference.  I did some searching online and found a comment on Microsoft’s site that updating the BIOS should work.

I was using BIOS version A02.  Updating to the latest version (A08) worked.

I then had a problem where the Windows 7 installer couldn’t see the physical hard drives.  I went into the BIOS and changed the SATA mode from its default setting to something which I don’t currently remember and it worked.  Windows detected the disk drives.

I’ve seen talk about installing the drivers and the problem goes away, but that’s not practical in manual pre-installation.

Another day, another problem with a third party free application (iTunes)

I feel like I’m spending too much time tending to the Flash player, iTunes, and AIM’s of the world.  My company allows some of this stuff because there’s a legitimate business need.  Managing these apps have become an unnecessary time drain.

Flash player stops working on its own.  AIM threatened users with loss of service for weeks unless they upgrade.  Apple has done both of those in the past with iTunes.  Now they seem to be going for a more passive aggressive route.  They throw up an error when users try to access the iTunes store that has nothing to do with the store and with upgrading.  The only (easy and obvious) way to access the store is upgrading to the latest version.

Your request cannot be completed. The item you've requested is not currently available in the US store.

The error is “Your request cannot be completed.  The item you’ve requested is not currently available in the US store.”  This line of BS translates to “Upgrade or Else.”  So if you find this post after hours of trying to figure out why you can’t access the iTunes store, the answer is that you must upgrade iTunes.