Microsoft Moves to Get a Piece of the Technology as a Service Market Share

Microsoft has been looking to cover more ground in the business environment by offering a new Technology as a Service (TaaS) offering, which will allow small businesses to purchase Surface products, accessories, and support for their devices, all with a monthly payment plan. Also, when it comes time to upgrade, customers can easily make the switch, as per their lease agreement.

Microsoft’s TaaS agreement allows businesses to pay for their devices over 12, 24, or 36 months. As expected, prices will vary depending on the length of the payment plan, and the devices purchased. One of the most affordable offerings is a basic-model Surface 3 paid for over 30 months, while a more expensive payment plan would be for a Surface Book over 18 months.

A membership in this program has several perks, including support when you need it, either by phone or in-store, one-on-one personal training, and in-store discounts on hardware and software solutions.

Of course, with all great things, there’s always a catch. First off, this is a business-exclusive offering. In the General Terms section of the TaaS Program Benefits Summary, it’s stated that the service is for “Business Customers Only; No purchase for resale.” In other words, this service is for end-users only, and that it has the right to cancel orders if it suspects resale activity. It also must be mentioned that this service is limited to official Microsoft products only.

While this service might seem tempting, we want to remind you that you don’t necessarily have to turn to Microsoft, or other hardware or software giants, for this type of service. Amaxx wants to help your business find the right devices for your specific needs. We want your business to have the technology it deserves, without the headaches and frustrations of lease terms, purchase options, and cancellation fees.

Working with Amaxx provides a fruitful relationship with a local business, rather than leasing your equipment through a third-party juggernaut like Microsoft - the software company is using LiftForward, a marketplace loan platform, to finance its Surface Membership service. We’ll handle all of the details for you, so that you can stay focused on what matters most - running your business.

Ultimately, Amaxx can offer your business both the latest and greatest in computing solutions, and a professional relationship that allows your business to get the most out of its technology. To learn more about what we can offer your business, reach out to us at 614-923-6700.

Improving Data Protection in Windows 10

One of the biggest features talked about around Windows 10 is the increased security posture the operating system provides users. Recently, the Redmond company discussed their efforts to improve data integrity with a newly re-branded feature called Windows Information Protection.

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Tip of the Week: How to Easily Add a Second Phone Number to Your Mobile Device

As the smartphone takes over many of our daily tasks, it can be annoying if we have to use a separate device to accomplish what we need to, like making calls on a different phone. Did you know that it’s easy to add a second phone number to your smartphone?

There are plenty of reasons why you would want to do this. Maybe you would like a second phone number that you can use to sign up for promotions so that your primary number doesn’t end up on a telemarketing list. Or, perhaps you want to take calls for your business on your personal smartphone. Whatever your reason, the technology that allows you to do this is very accessible.

Call Transfer
A solution that has been around for quite some time (even before smartphones) and comes with most phone plans is Call Transfer. If your current phone system supports it, you can forward calls from it to your personal cell phone, allowing you to take business calls while on the go.

Using Call Transfer is an easy way to receive calls on your smartphone from another line, but this feature traditionally doesn’t allow you to make calls from your second device using the transferred phone number. Although, there are phone solutions specifically designed for business, like Voice over Internet Protocol, that will give you the option to both make and receive calls using the transferred phone number with minimal hoops to jump through.

Second Phone Number Apps
If your goal is to get a second phone number for your smartphone that operates entirely as a fully functioning phone line, then there are several apps that allow you to do this. Here are a few of the most popular options.

Google Voice/Hangouts
Using your Google account, you can sign up for a second Google Voice phone number and then use Google Hangouts on your smartphone to both make and receive phone calls. This is a convenient option for those already getting a lot of use out of their Google account, and the best part is that it’s free.

Sideline provides your phone with a second phone number, although it just provides the basics. With Sideline, you have the ability to make and receive calls and have voicemail with your second phone number, but that’s about it. At $3 per month, Sideline is an inexpensive option, but you’ll have to suffer through advertisements while using it.

Line 2
Line 2 has more features than the previous examples, making it a better option if you want to use your second phone number for business purposes. These features are reflected in Line 2’s two plans; $10 per month for a personal number and $15 per month for a business line. For many smartphone users, the mobile app and the online dashboard may make Line 2 a desirable product.

Skype Number
Skype makes getting a second phone number relatively easy, and if you’re already using Skype as your go-to video chat solution, then getting a second phone number through Skype will make a lot of sense. A Skype Number offers users a fairly robust package of features, and at $6 per month, it’s an affordable option.

For putting a second phone number on your smartphone, you’ve got plenty of options. However, to implement a unified, Internet-based phone solution across your entire organization, you’ll want to go with something more heavy duty like VoIP. For help with VoIP or any other of your communications technology needs, call us today at 614-923-6700.

3 Talk-to-Text Apps that Get the Job Done

Mobile platforms have given way to entirely new ways to develop and make use of apps. More business professionals than ever before are relying on their smartphones to get work done while out of the office, but the functionality of the on-screen keyboard interface has some of them stumped on how to stay productive. It’s for this reason that developers have created applications designed to listen to users’ voices, and record them in text format.

Here are three of the most reliable options we know of that can turn your voice into text.

Evernote has been a major note-taking application for the Android and iOS mobile platforms, as it helps users keep track of their ideas and manage their content. It’s designed to capture and store sound bytes, which can then be converted into text format. You can keep both audio and the transcribed text file together and easily accessible. This useful option gives users an outlet to cross-check between the two to make sure that everything has been translated properly.

Other than capturing audio to text, Evernote also allows you to collect information and catalog it in a way which allows for easy searching. This gives you near-instantaneous access to your data. You can chat with collaborators using a real-time, built-in chat system, as well as share files. This provides the seamless cooperation tools that the business world needs to succeed.

Dragon Dictation
Another way to take advantage of voice-to-text integration is the #1 audio dictation software, Dragon. The app itself is quite simple; it has one button that’s used to stop and record audio. Once you’ve finished reciting what you’d like to record, the text will show up. It might be a little difficult at first, but it doesn’t take too long to accomplish. The Dragon software behind the app is renowned for having great accuracy, which will allow you to produce lengthy emails, notes, status updates, and more. You can easily copy the text and save it for later, too.

Voice Assistant
Voice Assistant is an app that has been redesigned for iOS and is now easier to use than ever before. All you need to do is switch to your preferred option, and you can convert your audio files to text with ease. Once the text file is available, you can then use the auto-copy feature to send your transcripts to apps that you use the most. This makes Voice Assistant a convenient medium that can work across platforms. It’s a great alternative to built-in voice assistants like Siri. Voice Assistant supports over 22 different languages and can integrate with many of today’s most popular apps. It can be purchased for only $0.99.

If you’re hoping to make voice-to-text dictation easier, all you need to do is consider these three options. Do you find this feature useful? If so, how do you go about turning audio files to text? Let us know in the comments.

Every Business Owner Must Understand These 4 Fundamentals of IT

It makes no difference how your business’s administrative chain of command is set up. Everyone should have a basic understanding of how your IT works, as well as its related responsibilities and functions. Here are four easy ways that you can educate yourself (and your staff) on how your IT department works, be it internal or outsourced.

Know Who to Contact for Support
You should be aware of who your point of contact is for your IT department. If you don’t, your employees probably don’t, either. Therefore, you need to lead by example and share this information with them in the event of technical difficulties. Doing so allows your team to cooperate with IT and improve operations, so that minor technology issues don’t evolve into major problems that could have a drastic effect on your working operations.

Working with Vendors
Businesses often have several vendors for each of their various hardware and software solutions, which can make dealing with them unnecessarily complicated and frustrating. You should have an understanding of who to contact within these vendors if you’re experiencing an issue with their products. Basically, by being aware of information pertaining to your organization’s relationship with its vendors, you can’t go wrong.

Basic Security Best Practices
Every single one of your employees should understand how to keep your organization’s infrastructure secure. There’s no getting around the importance of data security. Your information is sacred, to the point where your organization can hardly function without the data you collect on a daily basis. Here are three best practices that should be followed to a T:

  • Employees should use long, complex passwords.
  • Employees should use two-factor authentication.
  • Employees should be able to identify potential online scams.

Managing Laptops and Mobile Devices
If you have employees who bring their own devices to the workplace, a trend known as BYOD, then you should be taking responsibility to manage these devices. Mobile devices that haven’t been equipped with a mobile device management solution in accordance with your BYOD policy, could potentially become a liability. There needs to be oversight into how mobile devices access and use your corporate data, and to restrict the flow of data for security reasons.

This may seem like quite a lot to remember, but don’t worry; Amaxx has your back. Most of the above problems can be solved simply by having an IT technician whom you can rely on. We provide outsourced IT services, including consultation, vendor management, and mobile device management policies, all so your business can function properly without a hitch. For more information, give us a call at 614-923-6700.