2013 is Microsoft’s big year of change for their products being used by businesses across the world.  These changes mean that you need to be on the ball when it comes to planning your IT strategy this year and next.

We are no strangers to updates on apps, new versions of software and the ever-expanding range of technology available, but there are those changes that can have a massive impact on older systems – equipment that may well make up your entire office systems and keep your business running.

At the start of the year Microsoft released their 2013 edition of Office, the productivity suite that contains Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook et al. The previous 2010 version was withdrawn from sale pretty much straight away and is now only available via volume licenses.

New features, but also new issues

Upgrades are great with their new features and old bugs removed but they do bring along other issues.

Outlook 2013 does not work with Exchange Server 2003, so if you have an Exchange server or Small Business Server that was installed prior to the summer of 2008 you will have compatibility problems unless you can, and choose to, run an old version of Outlook.

Towards the end of 2013 Microsoft will withdraw their Small Business Server 2011 Standard product from sale, offering only their Small Business Server 2011 Essentials product instead.

office-365Doesn’t sound much but the Standard edition of this software includes Microsoft’s email and collaboration platform Exchange Server. Instead Microsoft expects you to look at their Internet/Cloud version of Exchange which is called Office 365.

On Microsoft’s part this does mean moving your business to the Cloud is mandatory rather than optional if you’re a small business wishing to continue using their products.

This is perhaps not so good if your business is not connected to the Internet with decent broadband access, a challenge we frequently find ourselves up against in rural Shropshire.

If your business is running Microsoft Exchange using a server that is older than three years and your connection to the Internet is not the speediest, it might be a good time to consider your options.

Finally in the first quarter of 2014 technical support from Microsoft will finish for their Windows XP operating system. No more patches or updates, no more support from Microsoft.

Again it may not seem much but Windows XP has actually been running on our computer systems for more than a decade (autumn 2001!) and still has an amazing 38% market share on desktop and laptop computers being used today.

That Microsoft is saying goodbye to Windows XP is a potential security risk to your business if you still have computers running this product. No more updates will make your computer a target for computer hackers and the like. It’s time to upgrade.

Be Prepared

These changes will this year affect thousands of businesses but the real problem comes if these businesses are not aware the changes are coming and will be hit with them unprepared.

If your business is affected by Microsoft’s big year of change and you would like some advice, or you don’t know whether you are affected and want to find out – get in touch with us on 0845 004 3025 or email sales@bespokecomputing.com.