Software Resources & News

  • What's the Difference Between Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro?

    Microsoft Windows 10 Comparison

    windows 10 pro vs home

    Windows 10 has been available from Microsoft now for almost 3 years. When this latest version of Windows was introduced in July 2015, Microsoft also revealed their Universal Application Platform from which the Windows App Store delivers a multitude of applications to users. This innovation by Microsoft is built on the Universal Windows Platform (UWP), which allows for the Windows App Store to be highly beneficial for users. Additionally, with Windows 10, Microsoft released more than just access to a wide range of applications. The coding behind Windows 10 also makes the operating system available to many different classes of computers including tablets, laptops, desktop PCs, and even two-in-one devices.

    Many home users were offered the option to upgrade to this new operating system as early adopters so many people upgraded for free when they had the opportunity. But many Windows users also chose to stay on the older versions such as Windows 7 and Windows 8. Also, many business-class customers chose to wait to upgrade their operating systems with their hardware. There are still substantial numbers of Microsoft customers who have not upgraded to Windows 10. Upcoming changes in other Microsoft Products will soon guide more users into an upgrade. Here are the differences between the two main versions of Windows 10, Home and Pro, which should help anyone planning an upgrade to make an informed choice.

    Windows 10 Home

    When deciding between different versions of Windows 10, it is important to know that Microsoft reduced the number of different versions available while offering quite a lot of features for even the Home version. Much of the rationale behind this was UWP and the Windows App Store. Likewise, Office 365 subscriptions were easier to offer on the Windows 10 platform. With Windows 10 Home, users now take advantage of a wide range of features:

    • Gaming is included in these features for Home users. XBox gaming thoroughly integrates Microsoft's game platform. Included in the gaming integrations are the Xbox app, game DVR, game streaming and XBox controller support among many.
    • Microsoft included in this computer operating system a basic version of Office 365, though this is a trial version.
    • Cortana, which originated in Microsoft's mobile operating system, integrates voice commands into the operating system like never before. Additional features include touchscreen capabilities, pen sketches, and Hello login.
    • Other feature which is included in Windows 10 Home is a basic encryption of data. However, this lightweight encryption package should not be confused with that which is offered with a regular subscription of Office 365.
    • Home version users also benefit from OneDrive so that cloud storage is available. The account is free, so the storage space is limited to 5 GB. However, an Office 365 subscription will add additional storage space.
    • One important feature available in the Home version is Mobile Device Management. This innovation for Windows 10 allows users to connect phones and manage apps and security for them from their computer.

    Windows 10 Pro

    The Windows 10 Pro edition is intended for use in business and education, commonly where secure networking is in use. As such, this version of Windows 10 offers several additional features to that of the Home version, though all of the Home version features are available in the Professional version. Here is a limited list of these additional functions:

    • Encryption in Pro is added security through BitLocker and Windows Information Protection which both provide access controls. These additional security functions are important for IT management in a networked environment.
    • Microsoft offers a wide range of customizable features for larger organizations such as schools and businesses.
    • Other important business additions provided through Windows 10 Pro are the business version of the Windows App Store, an enterprise browser version, Windows Business Update and more enterprise applications or options.
    • Since businesses and schools most commonly use networked editions, additional software features which are highly useful in such organizations are present in the Pro version. These features include virtualization, compatibility for Remote Desktop, Client Hyper-V, and numerous other customization options.
    • Windows services are also being repackaged through Windows 10 Pro as Windows 365, which is a combination of Office 365 and Windows 10 business enterprise options.

    Other Versions in the Business Class

    There are other versions of Windows 10 that are available, including Windows 10 S. Businesses and schools can take advantage of a lightweight version of the operating system to gain all the advantages of Windows 10 without the high cost from hardware and licensing. This means that Windows 10 S is designed to run on less expensive PCs which is aimed at specific organizational needs where limited budgets are the main driver when fulfilling IT necessities. For businesses which have large sets of employees with very standard functions, Windows 10 S meets those needs. Likewise, schools can also take advantage of Windows 10 S for its economic cost both in hardware and the OS version.

    However, Windows 10 S comes with limited functionality. For instance, while Windows 10 Home and Pro allow different browsers to be used, Windows 10 S limits the browser to Microsoft Edge. Likewise, only apps from the Windows App Store are generally allowed to be installed, the intention being to curtail malware which raises the cost of support for organizations on tighter budgets.

    All such limitations for Windows 10 S may seem like a drawback, but such feature limitations create a cost savings for budget challenge organizations. On the other hand, all files are stored to OneDrive and other basic features such as facial recognition and Cortana are still available.

    Comparison of Features Between Home and Pro Versions

    windows 10 home vs pro feature comparison chart

    Note: there are several other features and options not listed here due to the need for brevity. For any questions about these additional functions, please contact one of our experts.

    To learn more about Windows 10 and its features, contact our experts at Your one stop shop for OEM, Retail & Cloud software.

  • What to Expect from Office 2019

    office 2019

    Microsoft Office 2019 is expected to be released sometime this year. Most commonly, Microsoft releases its Office products during the year previous to its version name. For instance, Office 2016 was released late and 2015. Most experts agree that Office 2019 will not be released until September. With just a few months to go before this anticipated release, it is important to understand what to expect from the latest version of Office. In recent years, Microsoft has been changing its licensing model, tending more toward a subscription package than sticking with its traditional license. For many businesses it will be important to understand how long they can continue to use their current version of Office and how it will affect their other computing needs regarding Windows. With that in mind, it's time to delve into some of the intricacies of Office licensing and compatibility so you can make the best choices for your organization.

    How Office Has Been Licensed

    For many years, Microsoft licensed its Office products as a one time purchase. This meant that customers could use the software for as long as they wanted, or until it was no longer supported. It seemed like the older versions of Office remained in use for a very long time. Office 2003 was very popular and use in many organizations because it was an industry standard, remaining compatible on several Windows OS versions.

    Typically, most organizations have retained current versions of Microsoft Office for as long as it was compatible with the OS in use. Once an organization chose to upgrade their standard operating systems, the latest version of Office was included in the desktop image. For many years, businesses rotated out old equipment on a regular basis, only using something of a standard image based on the different models of computers. Increasingly over the years operating systems have required more computing power and older application versions were increasingly less compatible. This incompatibility has usually been driven by changes in the operating systems and the code platforms. As such, older coded applications are often not compatible with newer versions.

    Microsoft typically relied on its operating system and Office products being sold hand in hand with newer hardware. The company knew that most business organizations would eventually phase out it's oldest software in favor of newer hardware and software together. But, all along Microsoft had expected end-of-life expectations for when it intended to stop supporting versions of the software, including Office. Such is the case even now, as current versions of Office are expected to no longer be supported after a specific length of time. For the most recent version, Office 2016, that length of time is 10 years.

    How Microsoft is Moving Toward a Different Licensing Model

    With the newest Office application versions, Microsoft has shifted to a different licensing model, one which favors subscriptions. Many organizations have shifted to Office 365 in order to keep current more easily. However, many organizations have purchased various business level versions of Office in recent years with the expectation of using these applications and the compatible operating systems for the length of time specified or until hardware is no longer usable. So businesses still expect to use their Office applications under the "one-time purchase" license for up to ten years of support (the license doesn't expire but the "mainstream" support life is five years with an extended support life of five additional years for a total of ten years).

    In the case of Office 2016, this version of the software will run on Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10. But, Microsoft has indicated that Office 2019 will only be supported for the regular five "mainstream" years with a two year extension, meaning that it's end-of-life will be the same year as that of Office 2016. This change in support life leaves many industry experts to infer that after that time Microsoft will use only the subscription model for licensing its Office products. As a result of a short total support life for Office 2019, organizations must plan differently when considering upgrades to Office 2019. In many cases where new hardware will be used for close to that length of time the concern is not as great. However, the latest version of Office 2019 indicates an important change upcoming for Microsoft.

    When & What to Expect From Office 2019

    Office 2019 will almost certainly be released this year. Some companies will be in position to.use this newest version, since they already operate on the Windows 10 platform. The specific time of release has not been revealed by Microsoft, but many insiders believe it will be during the last quarter of the year. Office 365 subscribers may find that the latest version is available to them sooner as part of their subscription package.

    When considering the newest version of Office, most people discuss what features will be included that add to the functionality of the applications. There are some indications that the upcoming Office version will include some important improvements. Among the anticipated changes with Office 2019 are:

    • Improvements in functionality with Cortana
    • New charts and graphs for XL that improve data analysis
    • New and improved graphic effects which present more inking features
    • Many insiders believe that Morph and Zoom will be added to PowerPoint for more eye-catching presentations

    These features are very important additions to Office as will be others that have not been revealed by Microsoft. However, it is important to remember one specific caveat with Office 2019: this version will only be compatible with Windows 10. Organizations intending to retain their current versions of Windows 7 or Windows 8 while only upgrading to Office 2019 will find that the latest features will not be available unless upgrades to Windows 10 are made. This may be important, at least to some parts of an organization, while not as much to others. However, when receiving files from outside business which are using newer versions of Office, it will become increasingly more difficult to function with the older version of Office as well as that of Windows. So an upgrade to operating systems may be the first consideration before Office 2019 can be used.

    What Will Happen With Your Current Version

    Current Office versions still in use will still be licensed. But over the next several years these versions may become increasingly out of date. In the near-term, upgrading to Office 2019 will not be immediately necessary, but in the long-term, these upgrades will be an important factor for planning, especially where budgets are concerned.

    Updates for security will continue to be rolled out for previous versions as indicated by Microsoft in their licensing agreements. As mentioned earlier, the support will continue for the length specified, usually 10 years. But, improvements to these versions are not expected to be provided past the "mainstream" support life as has been the case in the past.

    What Will Happen With Office 365

    In the case of the Office 365, not much will change. Since Office 365 is a subscription, the newest version of Office will be automatically offered. Subscribers should have access to Office 2019 immediately as long as they are using Windows 10.

    Likewise, when renewing a subscription or shifting to Office 365 subscriptions, users will find that the newest version is available though still dependent upon the version of Windows. Since Microsoft intends only to support Office 2019 for a maximum of seven years, the software company clearly expects many of its customers to shift toward Office 365 over time. With upcoming versions of Office, a subscription license will become increasingly important for upgrades.

    Office 2019 and the Future Affects

    With the news that Office 2019 will only be compatible with Windows 10 businesses and other organizations which use the applications must begin planning accordingly. Immediate upgrades of Windows and Office may not be necessary, but they will be within just a few years, even months. When planning ahead it is also important to keep in mind that the license term for the length of support with Office 2019 is intended to be shorter and will coincide with the in of life support for Office 2016. Upgrades of Office should be considered carefully based on this information as subscription-based licensing through Office 365 will likely become the standard.

    To learn more aboutOffice 2019, its benefits and licensing options, contact our experts at Your online source for cheap OEM, Retail & Cloud products.

  • Session Based Desktop Deployment Vs Virtual Machine Based

    remote desktop deployment

    There is little doubt that in today's demanding computing environments, where budgets are tighter and expectations for technological returns of investment high, organizations can meet their needs in a variety of hosted solutions. When it comes to desktop computing business users, hardware and necessary support can be some of the main drivers behind costs. But with the expectations to achieve more with applications, there are solid alternatives to desktop computers.

    Virtualized computing offers quite a lot of useful solutions for business class customers. Options such as VMs and Remote Desktop Session Host offer varying degrees of organizational efficiency with OS flexibility, scalability, savings, overhead reduction, and consistent security.

    These two options for business users provide many of the same features but have their own advantages and drawbacks versus each other. With either, expectations can be met while achieving cost reduction.

    Virtual Machine Based Deployment: The Custom Experience

    Since VMs arrived on the computing scene, they quickly challenged the Remote Desktop Session Host solutions such as Citrix (one of the longest used options for shared desktop solutions) and that offered by Windows (originally known as Terminal Services). Virtual machines, as the name implies, work the same as an actual physical desktop computer. These virtual machines are files which are created on storage appliances and servers which users can log onto from a terminal. VM users are presented with a one to one (VM to user) computing solution.

    Virtual machines also come with virtual devices and drivers which allow them to run off of resources provided through storage. The experience for users is much the same and allows for the use of a wide range of applications. Resources for the virtual machines do not change since these are already defined just like a physical desktop computer would have specifically installed storage, memory and CPU. Users can easily access and work on virtual machines just as if there were a physical computer on the desk. It is a custom experience that meets specific needs.

    Remote Desktop Session Based Deployment: The Standard Environment

    Remote Desktop Session Host (also known as session-based virtualization) has been around quite a bit longer than virtual desktops with varying platforms from Citrix to the Windows Remote Desktop. RDSH is different from virtual machines in that they are not presented to the user in the same way as a virtual machine would run. A virtual machine is essentially a PC hosted on remote storage. However, a remote desktop is a standard, shared user experience which does not vary and runs only those applications which are presented to the user through a limited desktop interface, usually through policy. This is a one-to-many solution where one standard desktop is presented to many users.

    While a physical terminal is used in both instances, a remote desktop does not use any virtual devices such as memory, storage and CPU. The user experience is very much standard and has much of the same feel as working on a virtual machine or personal computer. The difference is that remote desktops are only active when a user logs in to their desktop via a server running the shared desktop environment such as Citrix or RDSH.

    While both types of hosted computing allow for users to save files and share data, the cost and overhead can be quite different. This is because the differences between the two solutions are fundamentally different at their base in that virtual machines are much more of a customized experience versus RDSH commonly being a highly standardized experience.

    Advantages of VMs

    Virtual machines have their own set of advantages versus remote desktop sessions. Since a virtual machine has a defined amount of memory, storage and CPU, there is no chance that a user process will disrupt other users since the experience is not one shared at the machine level. Resources for virtual machines are made available via storage and software management.

    Additionally, virtual machines offer organizations the ability to use a wider range of applications. Also, applications do not have to be installed on every virtual machine. Since some classes of users may require applications which use more resources, virtual machines can be customized to fit the demands of applications, especially those that use high-end graphic design and modeling.

    Virtual machines specifically offer the same experience as that of a PC without the overhead of hardware maintenance. This kind of hosted computing provides all the power necessary at a lower cost, allowing for highly customizable VM's which are presented to users.

    Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH) Advantages

    RDSH solutions easily mimic those of virtual machines but with a key difference; while virtual machines can be customized based on need, remote desktops are often standardized so that users have a limited number of applications which they can use. While the standardization creates limits, it is also less expensive than VMs. Common computing needs are easily delivered to a larger number of users through a terminal experience which is easily scaled at lower cost.

    The Drawbacks of Each Solution

    There are clear advantages with each of these remote computing solutions. However, VM's and Remote Desktop's each have their drawbacks. VM's require a higher budget due to licensing for operating systems, something which is far cheaper with RDSH because the operating system is shared to many users. VMs also put a higher demand on storage systems for customized solutions. Remote desktops do not have the same demands for resources since these are shared. With remote desktops, only those resources required by logged-on users are active.

    However, Remote Desktop's can create bottlenecks from processes which take up too many resources. Likewise, nonstandard applications may not easily be presented to Remote Desktop sessions. Additionally, other application maintenance and installation may be more difficult with RDSH while applications with higher demand for resources can make hosting these applications challenging.

    Since Windows server 2016 is the main hosting platform for remote desktop, much of the current advantages from Windows 10 are not available, the latter offering the Universal Windows Platform (UWP). UWP is the basis for the Windows Store in Windows 10 and any applications which are developed for this platform will not function, or may not have the same functionality, via RDSH on Windows server 2016. Whereas Windows 10 VMs will be able to use any UWP-based applications.

    Choosing Between the Two

    Both of these models for remote computing are highly desirable and useful, but for different reasons. They each offer their own advantages and flexibility. The server based Remote Desktop is far more scalable since not all resources for each user are required all of the time because not all users may be logged on at the same time and can be presented by policy.

    Meanwhile, virtual machines offer a highly customizable environment for demanding user needs. Memory storage and amount of CPU can be customized to fit applications. VMs offer a wider range of applications versus the more standardized offerings for RDSH. There is also less application maintenance required for virtual machines.

    The determining factors when choosing between RDSH and VM's are dependent on cost and need. A large organization may only need to offer remote desktop to a high number of employees with standard computing requirements, so this solution can be very cost-effective. Meanwhile, a smaller organization may need virtual machines for a larger percentage of high-end users because of more specialized applications and their requirements. Often times, organizations may find that they need a mixture, or hybrid solution, between these two types of remote computing.

    Neither solution is specifically better than the other, it is more of a degree of fit for needs and budget. Each solution provides very consistent security. It is the variations between licensing, application compatibility, and other factors which will determine the decision between these two options or using them together.

    Consider these details when choosing remote computing solutions:

    remote desktop vs virtual machine comparison graph

    To learn more about Virtual Machines, RDSH or other Azure cloud services, contact our experts at Your online source for cheap OEM, Retail & Cloud products.

  • What You Need to Know About Azure Site Recovery

    One of the best things about using the cloud for data storage is that if things were to go wrong, you have a possibility of finding recourse. Microsoft Azure’s innovative site recovery system can help you build websites and store data with a greater sense of insurance and security.

    Azure is a cloud computing service that was designed by Microsoft to serve a wide variety of different functions. The service is particularly useful for building, testing, and properly managing various applications. It is compatible with several different programming languages and is also made to be compatible with outside software providers.

    The Azure Site Recovery service empowers its users to back up their data in a way that is both safe and easy. Even in the event of severe outages or other types of IT interruptions, the progress you have made with your development efforts will remain preserved through the use of virtual machines (VMs).

    Microsoft’s unique recovery service is fairly straightforward. However, before you commit to signing up for such a program, there are a few important things you should know.

    Azure Site Recovery is an essential piece of your BCDR strategy

    If you are involved in any industry that is highly dependent on the use of technology, one of the most worthwhile things you can do is create a strong BCDR strategy. BCDR—which stands for business continuity and disaster recovery—is your business’ specific plan for what you will do in the event of an IT disaster.

    Azure Site Recovery service enables you to keep your business apps and other workloads running even in the event of system outages. Because your applications are replicated at a second location, the system can essentially work for an unlimited amount of time. Once your initial location is able to run again, you can seamlessly switch back to the work you were doing.

    Azure Site Recovery has numerous innovative features

    In general, Microsoft’s innovative new recovery system has been well-received by critics. There are numerous features that make it particularly useful.

    • Azure VM Replication makes it easy to set up a recovery program using multiple locations
    • Workload Replication allows you to replicate your workload in several different ways including through the use of physical Windows and Linux servers
    • App Consistency makes it possible to easily replicate recovery points including transactions that are already in progress
    • Easy Testing enables you to run recovery tests without interrupting your current work
    • Customizable Options allow you to build a specific plan that can addresses your organization’s unique set of needs

    When compared to other systems, Azure Site Recovery is generally considered to be among the most adaptable, reliable, and useful of its kind. The system can be easily integrating into complex networks and is also able to effectively function on the multi-tier level. 

    Azure Site Recovery is easy to set up and easy to manage

    Microsoft wanted to make a recovery system that would be easy to set up and easy to manage. The set up process involves three basic steps.

    Managing Azure Site Recovery is simple because, as time goes on and new features are released, the system will update automatically. Additionally, the system manager will have numerous opportunities to adapt the sequence and other features to meet their needs. Having the power to run tests without an issue, utilize multiple virtual machines (VMs), and maintain on-premise applications in the event of an outage are all very important.

    Azure Site Recovery can be used with multiple different systems

    Another reason why Azure Site Recovery has been so widely praised is the fact that—even when compared to other Microsoft SaaS products—Azure Site Recovery is incredibly flexible.

    The most noticeable evidence of Azure Site Recovery’s flexibility is the fact that works with almost every major coding language. This can be particularly useful for development teams that are multi-lingual. In addition to working on Windows systems, Azure Site Recovery is also compatible with Linux, VMWare, Hyper-V virtual machines, and several others. Again, this degree of adaptability enables IT teams to access more possibilities.

    Azure Site Recovery can help your business save on infrastructure costs

    If you want your business to be technologically secure, then you will need to find some way to develop an effective BCDR strategy. The best BCDR strategies are those that are simultaneously able to keep your organization secure while also minimizing total costs.

    If you choose not to use Azure Site Recovery, then you will likely need to set up an in-house recovery system of your own. Though some people may prefer this option because they believe it leaves them in control, in reality, it would require you to build redundant infrastructure and end up paying more for less.

    Azure Site Recovery can help your business minimize downtime

    The reason why Azure Site Recovery is such a widely used system is because it is backed up by an SLA of over 99.9%. Additionally, as is the case with most major Microsoft systems, you will also gain access to an equipped and knowledgeable help team that is available 24 hours a day.

    In the past, outages and IT interruptions would be absolutely devastating for most firms. There was a point in time where total recoveries would require millions of dollars and several months of work. Now, data can be recovered instantly and your organization can be saved.

    Companies that are involved in the information technology sector are always looking for ways to gain a competitive advantage. Additionally, they are always looking for ways to protect themselves against the unexpected. Microsoft’s Azure Site Recovery system is an innovative way you can affordably acquire the infrastructure help you need. The system has a remarkably high recovery point objective (RPO) and is only getting better as time goes on.

  • Azure VMs: 7 Reasons to Switch to Azure Virtual Machines

    Azure VMs: Pricing, Licensing & Features

    Azure storage and VM volumes provide the incredibly useful platform many businesses choose today for cloud solutions. Highly available, well-maintained and adaptable - all with cost in mind, Azure makes VM infrastructures easier than ever to improve business profitability with lower overhead. Azure VM servers can be brought online in minutes and configured for maximum business growth. Here's why businesses look to Azure's platform for VM infrastructure:

    1. OS Flexibility

    Operating systems are chosen with business need in mind. No longer do many businesses operate a single operating system on their servers. With VM servers now a staple of IT environments, Azure's flexible OS offerings make implementation of variable VM infrastructures easier than ever to accomplish. Azure VMs now support more than Windows Server, including Linux, IBM, Oracle, SQL Server, and SAP. Extending data center effectiveness is a breeze with all the choices available from Azure VMs making virtualization an unequaled IT investment for many business organizations.

    azure vm computer

    2. Resource Scalability

    All businesses are concerned with the cost of IT hardware. Scaling hardware can be difficult with budget constraints, especially with costly servers. Starting new projects and implementations can be challenging due to high costs. Arrival of high-end equipment can delay IT progress even further, let alone damaged shipments

    With Azure VMs, scalability creates a nimbler business model. Servers can be put into production in minutes rather than weeks, so development teams can complete requirements of testing and staging of new applications without delays from hardware.

    With a few developed image templates, even large projects can be underway in far less time than it takes to order, deliver and rack servers Scaling is fast and efficient while adhering to organizational goals and policies.

    3. Flexible VM Pricing

    Azure pricing is based on subscriptions which can be adjusted at need. No longer do companies need to waste time counting total cost with licenses or specialized equipment. Azure VMs are cost-efficient and easily maintained, reducing cost of ownership far below that of physical servers.

    Based on subscription need, the number of Azure VMs can easily be increased or decreased. A temporary need for additional VMs no longer requires years of financial commitment due to asset life-cycle. A temporary VM can be created and removed without the long-term consequences that physical servers require, especially when considering the cost of support. This reality is especially important when special application requirements call for faster, more powerful computing resources. The cost of the server is no longer spread out over five years but, instead, costs only for what the business needs for a specific time, meaning a drastic savings for companies and their IT commitments.

    Using Reserved Instances for VM in Azure can also reduce cost further. While these reserved instances require some commitment, they can be canceled or shifted as needed, unlike physical servers which are assets that stay on financial books for years and can only be disposed of at a loss. Reserved instances create virtual assets that can be shifted and changed as needed at costs that are even lower than pay-as-you-go plans. Combined with scalability and operating system flexibility, Azure VMs completely change the foundation of a company's IT resources.

    4. Reduction in Overhead & Costs

    IT organizations no longer need a commitment to larger employee support staffing. Budgets are reduced and more stable, creating higher profitability. Streamlined IT staffing no longer burdens the company, allowing for improved support margins and higher productivity. VMs ease the effects of such financial bottlenecks and Azure provides all the benefits of this relief with far fewer headaches for corporate management.

    5. Increased Security

    Azure puts a premium on security at all levels and VMs are no different. Azure Resource Manager ensures companies control access to VMs. Meanwhile, backup or failover goals are easily achieved with Azure Backup or Azure Site Recovery. Safe, well-maintained datacenters with encrypted connections ensure far better up-time and recovery in the event of site outages.

    azure virtual machine secured

    7. Ease of Use

    With templates, Azure VMs can be put into production far faster than with conventional servers. Customers can create their own templates and maintain them or make use of standard ones on Azure Resource Manager. New VMs can be available in minutes rather than weeks creating a nimble IT business model all businesses can enjoy. Development plans are much simpler, especially with migration and planning tools available in Azure Resource Manager making implementation far faster than ever so companies can relieve all internal bottlenecks whether they be support or budgetary in nature.

    7. The Benefits of Azure

    Microsoft's cloud platform has grown and widened in usefulness in recent years, rivaling or surpassing that of competitors. Azure provides a solid VM platform with a wide range of server offerings to satisfy all levels of need. Redundancy and business consistency make VM infrastructure even more effective than ever. Data centers with a wide-range of products complete with high-availability and many related offerings present even the largest of customers with the necessary options for VM infrastructure whether companies need general-use computing, memory optimized VMs, as well as burstable and compute optimized VMs.

    Add SQL instances with the latest features as well as backup and recovery options created for any business class in mind and Azure VMs become a prized asset in an era of increased competition. The latest of the Azure cloud is maintained, patched and secured, leaving management assured of business consistency.

    VMs are now the foundation of cost-efficient IT business models. Microsoft Azure VM instances are a widely used, effective cloud-based model every business can use to achieve lower costs, higher profits, better security, and business consistency while creating a nimble business environment. Find the right VMs for any budget and needs to begin creating a more robust IT infrastructure with Azure and its wide range of VMs.

    To learn more about Azure VMs, contact our experts at - your online source for cheap OEM, Retail & Cloud products.

  • The Definitive Guide To Microsoft Azure

    microsoft azure transferring files

    What was once called Windows Azure is now known as Microsoft Azure and if you like to keep up-to-date with current tech-related news, you have probably heard the name a lot. Perhaps though, you have heard about it but have no idea what it actually is. In this post, our definitive guide to Microsoft Azure, we will outline the basics and some important specifics about Microsoft Azure, lifting the lid on what it is used for and why it is important.

    What Then Is Microsoft Azure?

    Microsoft Azure is the computing giant's cloud computing service which in a very similar way to both Google's Cloud Platform and Amazon Web Services, otherwise known as AWS.

    Now before you think you know what we mean when we say Cloud Computing, it's worth pointing out we don't mean that very open-to-interpretation term that is tagged on to every and any consumer service that stores your data and personal data on a remote server somewhere in America.

    Microsoft Azure is actually cloud computing in the form of a service designed for anyone from big organisations and companies to individual users who want to benefit from it.

    In the past, it was normal for organizations and companies to handle the hosting of their own infrastructure. So a company would have its own hardware that handled its own server, be it a web or email server. If it required more power, the company would need to purchase more hardware. The company would also need to pay for a solid internet connection for its customers to use and an individual to take care of hardware administration. As an alternative, many web hosting companies offer hosting for business services using their server hardware inside their own data centres, at cost.

    Cloud computing however, works in something of a different way though. Instead of running your own hardware or paying to use hardware in another company's data centre, you essentially pay to access a directory of resources provided by Google, Amazon, or in this case, Microsoft.

    This gives you the option to host whatever you want, whether it is user directories, virtual machines, servers for storing files, databases, email servers or web servers.

    If you need further computing resources, there is no need to buy new hardware, because as and when you need it, the 'cloud' can share with you the hardware and assigning the work automatically. You only pay for the amount of resources you require and not a set amount of hardware servers, stored away somewhere.


    How You Can Use Microsoft And Why You Might Want To

    When you use cloud computing via Microsoft Azure, it costs less upfront. There is no need to spend a lot of money, for instance, on setting up your own data centre, filling it with the necessary hardware and then hiring a workforce to run it. There is also never a risk of paying too much for more hardware than you require and likewise, there is no risk on buying not enough or not having the resources you require.

    Rather you just host the resources you require in the cloud through Microsoft Azure. You pay for what you use, when you use them. When you require more, it can be set up to automatically expand to take on the greater demand. Whereas, if you do not need quite as much, you won't be paying for resources you aren't using.

    This is why everything from an organisation or business's public access websites to their mobile app services to their company email server are being held via cloud computing.


    azure cloud hosting


    What Can You Do With Microsoft Azure?

    On its website, there is a full directory consisting of numerous services available for you to use, including backups, file storage, databases, full virtual machines and web and mobile app services.

    The reason its name was changed from Windows Azure to Microsoft Azure when it was developed and expanded to handle more than Windows. In fact, you are able to run both Linux and Windows virtual machines with Azure, as you require.

    When you start to browse through the directory of services, you will be see you can use Azure to do just about anything. Anything you need to do that Azure can't do directly, you can create a Linux or Windows virtual machine to host and use whatever software you need. If you wanted or needed to, you could host a Linux or Windows desktop in the cloud using a virtual machine and set up a remote connection to it. This is just another example of how you can use cloud computing resources.

    In the next part of our post we will now take a look at some more of the specifics of Azure and how it can be used. We will cover:

    • Azure Backup
    • Azure VM
    • Azure Active Directory
    • SQL In Azure
    • Major Benefits Microsoft Azure Brings To Businesses

    Azure Backup

    As the name suggests, Azure Backup is a service that enables you to protect or backup data into Microsoft's cloud. This service can be used therefore to replace any existing off-site or on-site backup facilities you may already have with a solution based in the cloud that is not only affordable, but secure and reliable.

    This service offers various components that you can download and use either in the cloud or on an appropriate server or computer. The particular agent or component you use will depend on the what you need to backup or protect. All of the available components of Azure Backup can be used for backing up data into a vault for Recovery Services within Azure.

    Why Would You Backup With Azure?

    Normal solutions for backup have developed to use the cloud merely as a static storage location in in a similar way to tapes and disks or an endpoint. Although this is a simplistic approach it is also restrictive and therefore translates to an inefficient and rather expensive backup solution because it doesn't make use of any underlying cloud platform.

    Further to this, other backup solutions are expensive as you end up paying a lot for storage that is not useful for you or storage that is the wrong kind. Also, they are inefficient as they do not provide you with the amount or kind of storage you require or administrative tasks involved with running them take up too much time.

    Azure Backup, on the other hand, delivers key benefits such as:

    • Auto Storage Management
    • Unlimited Scaling
    • Multiple Storage Options
    • Unlimited Data Transfer
    • Data Encryption
    • Application-Consistent Backup
    • Long-Term Retention


    azure portal


    Azure Active Directory

    Azure AD or Azure Active Directory is cloud-based identity and directory management service. It is a combination of application access management, advanced identity governance and core directory services. Azure Active Directory also provides a comprehensive and platform based on standards that allows developers to offer access control for applications based on central rules and policy.

    Azure AD for IT administrators provides an easy and cost-effective solution for business partners and employees to access numerous SaaS applications in the cloud via an SSO or single-sign on. Applications such as Concur, DropBox, and Office365.

    Azure AD for developers of applications, enables you to focus your attention on building your applications by making it simpler and quicker to create integrations world-class identity management solutions utilized by literally millions of individuals and organizations throughout the world.

    With Azure Active Directory, there is also a whole identity management capability suite that includes:

    • Security monitoring and alerting
    • Rich auditing
    • Application usage monitoring
    • Role-based access control
    • Privileged account management
    • Self-service group management
    • Self-service password management
    • Device registration
    • Multi-factor authentication

    What Are Azure Virtual Machines?

    Azure Virtual Machines or Azure VM gives you the versatility to virtualise a wide array of computing solutions, such as data centre extensions, application running, development and testing. It gives the freedom of open source software that has the configuration you require. Consider this like another rack in your data centre, that gives you the ability to deploy a specific application not in the weeks it took in the past, but in mere seconds.

    You Get More Choice

    When it comes to Azure VM it's all about the range of choice you have. You can choose either Windows or Linux and then can choose whether you want it to be in the cloud on the premises or both.

    Scaled To What You Require

    A Combination of supercomputer performance with the cloud's scalability. Scale it from either one virtual machine to thousands. You can easily scale worldwide, to be closer to your customers, thanks to the increase in regional Azure data centres.

    SQL Azure

    You may have heard of SQL Azure - it is an important part of Windows Azure and is a services suite that provides data services web services infrastructure and hosted computing. This component of Azure, combines cloud computing service functionality with an SQL Server's complete relational database functionality. This is service is hosted from Microsoft data centres across the world.

    This is normally a good option when you require the services of a database. However, there are few aspects of business that SQL Azure would be particularly useful for:

    Collaborating - SQL Azure can be used to help establish a hub for collaboration, by storing your data in the cloud. In order to share information access across various boundaries within organisations, from one branch office to another etc. When you make use of hosted services, you can keep your data safe and secure, while eliminating roadblocks on the network.

    Scale - One of the biggest advantages of cloud computing is being able to add infrastructures when required. This makes it easier for you to scale up and expand or scale down the capacity of an application as and when it is necessary. Which is especially useful when there are dramatic changes to hosted application peak usage.

    Consolidation - As the relational database functionality need increases and starts to trickle down to specific work groups and departments, it can be a challenge to database sprawl internal management. With SQL Azure you can consolidate simplified management, turn-key provisioning with work group and departmental databases, to enable administrators can meet the needs of departments much easier.

    Hosted Applications - If you have already started using Windows Azure to host various workloads, it will be easy to integrate workloads of hosted relational databases. It can also assist in maximizing performance of applications by decreasing the volume of traffic on the network.

    Cost-Effective - It depends on the workloads you want to install, but cloud computing offers a PAYG model that may be the most effective approach in terms of expense.

    Major Benefits Microsoft Azure Brings To Businesses

    Now that we have discussed a little more about Microsoft Azure, it is worth understanding the actual benefits it can give businesses.

    Microsoft Azure Is Very Fast In All The Important And Best Ways

    In any business, speed is crucial and is generally seen as a advantage over competition. Azure benefits businesses in speed in three specific ways -

    • Deployment Speed
    • Operation Speed
    • Scalability Speed

    Even the most experienced and successful cloud providers would find it virtually impossible to compete against a business with all three functions firmly in place.

    Microsoft Azure Helps Increase Business Agility

    Businesses that make use of Azure have faster cycles for deployment than those using solutions on-premises. This enables them to become more iterative and benefit from greater amounts of responsive feedback while they develop applications.

    This then provides them with the opportunity to explore technology outcomes in a way that will suit the objectives of their business.

    In terms of finances – these cycles enable a measure of suitability without a complex infrastructure set up or outlay that costs too much.

    Business agility, we are sure you can see, is about failing faster, but growing quicker, rather than only maintaining standards.


    azure hosting security


    Your Global Reach Can Be Matched By Azure

    If your clients need data capabilities built for a worldwide scale, it can be hard if you are just relying on traditional data centres. In this regard Azure offers a huge advantage in that it can adapt to coincide with the utilisation and performance requirements of your business. This then reduces the necessity for a team to monitor behaviours and rather, focus on your business objectives.

    From the point of view of users, their experience will always be great and how great it is will not be determined by their location.

    While there is an argument that smaller organisations are the only kinds of businesses that can exploit this scale. This is not strictly true. BP, for example, only recently utilised this functionality of Azure as a migration driver.

    The Integration Development Environment

    Along with what we have already stated Azure benefits from Visual Studio – the leading development environment in the world. Which really is a game-changer. This means the dramatic reduction in the learning curb that comes with using a new platform. This is great in two important ways:

    It helps you to avoid a skill mismatch

    Enables teams to be deployed quickly and to learn while they work on a project or task.

    As part of this integration, Azure shows the willingness of it to adapt to what developers need. From a day to day perspective, developers are who benefit the most from Azure.

    The Full Integration Delivery Pipeline Provided By Azure

    When trying to show the true benefits of using Azure that Google and AWS don't provide,, it is more about the whole package rather than just the storage.

    So when you look at Azure from the perspective of architecture, you need a unified delivery pipeline. When it comes to Azure, this is:

    • Source control
    • Unit testing
    • Integration testing
    • Delivery
    • Go live tools

    Along with this, many could argue that it would benefit businesses to make use of specific tools from a variety of different providers. Ensuring greater ease of use for the majority of providers through APIs etc. Although, when it comes to fears regarding issues of integration and improved continuity, you are in a better position when all the tools you are using are all in the same place.

    When it comes to future updates though, Azure does this in a way that is still of benefit to others in their pipeline. This ensures that there is going to be long-term success.

    Azure Solves The Problem of Recovery Disasters

    If you have a business that has a worldwide footprint, you may need a solution that coincides with your need to transfer data on a global scale. Along with this, the CSOs have a stronghold to maintain so that disaster recovery capabilities are considered, including objectives for recovery points and locations for fail-overs. Azure has this covered.

    They do this by having:

    • Fail-over options on a global and regional level
    • Standby models both cold and hot
    • Capabilities for rolling reboots

    All of these can be worked with straight from the box. Which puts them far ahead of the standard options available from on-premises platforms.

    Although the topic of data recovery may not always be considered the most important business decision, a company could face disastrous legal implications if they are separated from their data at all for even just a day.

    Flexible Expenditure

    Although it is perceived to be cheaper than using private cloud computing, Azure isn't really. This is not a problem, though. One particular advantage of computing in the cloud with Azure is you're able to test band new solutions and how they impact, in a cost-effective way. Once you have finished this, you are then able to scale the areas that give the best outcomes for your business in a very tactful way.

    Increase Your SQL Databases' Return On Investment - While your costs may increase, your ROI is likely to improve, while decreasing the amount you pay for resources that are inefficient. When you choose to make changes to revenue models or experience differences from season to season, you only need to adapt things in your Azure Portal. Your CFO will see this as a success in the long-term.



    Using Azure To Become Securer

    One of the most important and impactful parts of Azure's security is the facility for seamless and secure logging on and off for users. Whether that is with regards to business to consumer or business to business.

    Users have easy access to all relevant platforms without having to remember complicated passwords, using Azure SSO. By doing this, you are able to decrease the chance for hackers to access important accounts, while enabling controls that are device and location specific.

    Azure Can Help You Meet Compliance Regulations

    Taking the bigger picture into consideration, organizations do not want to consider that solutions they choose or their data is meeting policies based on locations or meeting industry standards.

    It is likely that you would rather focus in on the outcomes of business.

    The heritage of Microsoft enables them to provide platforms suiting this requirement constantly, and have taken on all the heavy lifting. Particularly within sectors such as finance, which with data policies and GDPR, they have been able to establish solutions that give great scope with maintaining the sovereignty

    You Can Deploy Azure Absolutely Anywhere

    Unlike other cloud providers, such as Amazon Web Services for instance, that try to push of a future where cloud-first is a way of life in business, others consider it to be more appropriate to adopt a more hybrid model.

    Microsoft built the Azure Stack offering, with the above in mind, as a way to ensure their customers and clients benefit from all of the different benefits we have mentioned above and Additionally to practices and patterns. This is done while making use of wide array of providers of proven hardware for all their requirements on-premises.

    Moving forward, as a business you can select exactly where you want your data to reside. The change can actually be a lot easier than you suggest when choosing to press on with Azure.

    For more information on Microsoft Products or Services, contact our team at Royal Discount. Your source for Microsoft software and licensing. Reach our azure licensing desk directly at 1-877-292-7712.

  • Top 5 SQL in Azure Database Features

    sql in azure database
    SQL in Azure excels with the presentation of Microsoft's industry-leading database product. New features from the latest versions of SQL Database Server are also implemented in the Azure product with even greater results than single-server implementations - with all the advantages Azure offers. Here are five reasons SQL in Azure can improve business databases in an environment where online availability of database-driven products can make all the difference when compared to competitors.

    1. Scalability and Resource Management with Elastic Pools

    Scalability monitors alert you to the need of growth or retraction with ease all with cost in mind. Performance drives rising or shrinking needs and, thus, cost. Single databases can move into higher service levels without waiting or downtime. Larger databases can be moved into pools for best performance. Elastic performance pools allow for rising and falling demand based on the business-intelligent heuristics. Databases managed in an elastic pool can be set to minimum and maximum performance counters that ensure no single instance hogs resources, ensuring that all databases are able to perform. Elastic pools automatically adjust to expected changes in workloads based on the intelligent optimization from performance tuning. The pool performs in balance around the learned cycles of fluctuation for best operation combined with cost efficiency.

    Four workloads available in Azure SQL databases allow for creation of a robust, yet flexible application environment.  Basic, Standard, Premium and Premium RS each allows for growth of databases without downtime as your database needs increase or decrease. If resource needs change rapidly, database resources adjust to meet these changes which allows Azure customers to pay only for what is needed.

    Small, single Azure SQL database instances can be blended with elastic pools to meet growing needs with cost always in mind. Databases can be mixed and matched depending on workloads, even moved into and out of elastic pools for constant cost efficiency which equals savings for businesses. Reporting from Azure and access through the Azure portal provide instant information and access for business management.

    Determination of database changes and needs are achieved with Azure SQL Database monitoring and tools. The built-in performance monitoring and alerts provide actionable information for financial decisions regarding databases both large and small. Database Transaction Units (DTU) and elastic DTU provide specific information upon which to base business decisions.

    2. Performance Tuning

    Azure SQL Database service provides a built-in intelligence which learns database patterns. Such telemetry information informs business management of adaptation options of database resources for constant performance tuning coupled with best business decisions. Azure customers always know how their databases are performing.

    Automatic performance tuning is now the new staple of database management. Tools and monitors always adjust for changes and alert owners of necessary needs points of attention. Development resources are maximized while management of SQL resources are highly automated.

    Newer batch processing features such as interleaved execution, batch mode memory grant feedback and batch mode adaptive joins further add to Azure in SQL's enhanced performance features. This new tuning enhancement employs both the learning and adaptive models for increased performance, with the interleaved execution addresses multi-statement table-valued functions.

    3. Security

    Advanced security adds additional layers of protection including audit logs, data encryption (both at rest and in motion), data-masking to non-privileged users, row-level security and compliance certification. Security also provides high levels of authentication with Active Directory integration. Keys can even be stored within Azure for ease of access.

    Adaptive threat detection is available with SQL in Azure presenting a new layer of security that identifies any harmful intrusion attempts. Suspicious activity is always marked with recommendations offered to mitigate breach attempts within the database.

    4. Business Consistency Features

    With Azure SQL Database service is ways available with its responsive SLA-based support system which keeps all resources up at all times. Available across a wide range of datacenters, the service is patched, secured and backed up. Business continuity concerns are met with a range of option including active geo-replication, and failover groups.

    Automatic backups are performed in full, differential and transaction logs while allowing for point-in-time restores over the retention of the automatic backup. High performance and load balancing are achieved with the use of failover groups which can take advantage of geo-replication among a number of Azure data centers.

    Software agents, tapes and hardware are by-passed for highly available and flexible backups including failovers for maximum availability. Companies find yet another way to reduce cost while ensuring database availability.

    5. Scalability of Azure SQL Database

    As with all products in the Azure cloud platform, cost efficiency is further enhanced with scalability. Azure customers can easily forecast, budget and adjust cost based on reporting. Databases can be adjusted as necessary with cost in mind. Increases in demand are never a hassle since databases can be assigned more resources through telemetry reports from efficient monitors - all presented in the Azure Resource Manager

    Bonus features at your fingertips:

    Azure Key Vault Integration with SQL Server IaaS VMs - encryption keys can now be stored in Azure, eliminating additional management costs and support overhead.

    V12 Portability - migration strategies are a thing of the past as SQL in Azure provides the ability to move databases across the cloud, off it or into such services as IaaS and Paas.

    Query Store - database metrics are stored in this handy location for access to performance. With the Query Store, historical data about databases can be compared for additional information necessary for management decisions.

    Polybase in the Cloud - allows for joining Azure Blob Storage to SQL Server tables for non-relational queries across cloud implementations.

    Azure SQL Database provides all the latest features of the database server engine with all the features of Azure mingled into a highly useful product for best performance, lowest cost, and flexible scalability. Comprehensive business consistency from backups and security coupled with development tools, alerts and monitors add more than worthy value. To learn more about Microsoft Azure SQL Database, contact our experts at - the Microsoft Licensing and Cloud experts. Get answers - Call today at 1-877-292-7712.

  • Azure Resource Manager Templates - Getting Started

    Getting Up and Running with Azure

    Once Azure resources are in place with an account, the tasks of establishing components begins. Microsoft included Azure Resource Manager to handle quite a few tasks including monitoring, deployment and management. The single interface allows you to manage your Azure resources together, even if they encompass multiple components across your infrastructure.

    Several components may work together within Azure which require grouping. A VM may include a storage account with virtual networking, a web app, an SQL database and other related pieces. These are not merely individual instances but related components which need to be managed as such. Azure Resource Manager (ARM) portal allows for the best management of resources in a variety of ways.

    Benefits of Azure Resource Manager

    There are a number of benefits to using the Resource Manager in Azure to better manage your virtual infrastructure, including:

    • Deploy components to your resources even within a group while managing and monitoring them from a central portal.
    • Organizational oversight of billing by viewing costs associated by group which can be sorted by custom tags.
    • Address management functions with the use of declarative templates which is probably the most powerful tool within ARM to quickly implement a variety of new virtual components along with storage containers while linking with applications including web and database applications.
    • Since Roll-Based Access Control is a native part of Resource Manager, you can apply access controls to any service by group. Security management is always available within ARM.
    • Deployment state consistency can be achieved throughout the lifecycle of a project, making the processes of development, staging and production implementation achievable in shorter work-cycles.
    • Dependencies can easily be defined so that resources are deployed in a correct order, based on the use of highly valuable templates.
    • Resources can be logically tagged, providing an organized infrastructure by which monitoring of cost, deployment and management is accomplished.

    Azure Resource Manager provides everything that a business needs to effectively manage cloud-based resources. Subscriptions to Azure can be easily managed while implementations within new and existing cloud-based infrastructures can be brought on-line with ease, security and functionality. Templates are a powerful bridge between management and implementation, even saving money due to fast implementation and business consistency management. Corporations are frequently turning to the cloud and Azure's powerful tools with Resource Manager to trust their infrastructure to a high standard of security and performance at reasonable costs.

    Get Started With Azure Resource Manager Templates

    Azure Resource Manager includes access to many templates which can be used for deploying infrastructure resources throughout your subscription in a consistent manner. Through the use of these declarative templates, new components can be created and deployed in an orderly fashion, while adhering to grouping structures you assign for consistent development of resources. Templates are a powerful way to implement an Azure infrastructure while providing cost and security management.

    Once you create a resource group and begin development of your infrastructure, each new component created also has a new template available. Re-use the new templates to create other resources to consistently deploy your latest infrastructure additions. The repetition from template deployments provides assurance of operational consistency across dependent components where templates can be linked (nested).

    Templates are saved in a JSON (Javascript Object Notation) file which will define one or several resources to be deployed to a resource group with a set of configurations which can be as simple or complex as you choose. These templates can also reach across defined types of resources to include a variety of services in the deployment, making it easy to start each resource as a readied component to put into development or production.

    There are four main scripting modes to use to create robust templates in Resource Manager:

    • Azure PowerShell - with this installed module you can create local and external templates (for example on GitHub or an Azure storage account). Templates can also be created and loaded using Cloud Shell. Deployments can even be made across resource groups and subscriptions.
    • Azure CLI - load this module in Azure for this preferred method of accessing and creating templates. As with Azure PowerShell, Azure CLI can also be used to create and load templates from both local and external files or be created in Cloud Shell. Deployments can also reach across resource groups and subscriptions.
    • Azure ARM portal - from the portal, you can use quick-start templates or even a built-in the editor to make changes to JSON files to add your custom commands and configurations. There are also standard templates available from the Marketplace for download and use.
    • Resource Manager REST API - which allows for incremental and complete mode deployments to resources groups from templates you control.

    When creating Azure resources, templates simplify the work and can be stored for organization-wide use. The Azure Resource Manager is the best way to access, create, customize and store your templates to get project deployments running as soon as possible.

    When it comes to learning and using the variety of avenues to create and use custom templates there are any number of available resources to assist in learning, creating and troubleshooting within Azure, all using the Resource Manager. To access the Resource Manager in Azure, create your new account and try out a new subscription of cloud-based resources that can benefit your organization with lower cost and higher business efficiency. To learn more about Microsoft Azure and the benefits of the Resource Manager, contact our experts at your online resource for Microsoft OEM, Retail & Cloud products.

  • How To License Visio Pro for Office 365

    Licensing Microsoft Visio Pro for Office 365:

    Microsoft Visio provides users with the ability to create beautiful, compelling flowcharts, graphs and network diagrams in one easy to use application. This powerful tool was previously only available as a retail or open license version. This year users can now price this tool at an affordable monthly rate.

    Microsoft has recently announced that the latest version, Visio 2016, will now be available through an with Office 365 Subscription - also known as Visio Pro for Office 365. This offering comes in two versions, plan 1 and plan 2.

    Plan 2 includes the desktop application version, while plan 1 is the cloud only. For all intents and purposes we will focus solely on plan 2 for the remainder of this article.

    Visio Pro for 365 has same capabilities as the retail Visio Professional 2016. It can be obtained through Office 365 through a paid subscription. This subscription is obtained for a fixed period of time (usually monthly or yearly) and requires a periodic payment.

    Pricing / Licensing for Visio 365

    Microsoft offers two Visio subscriptions to its users:

    1. Annual Subscription - $9.80 per user per month
    2. Monthly Subscription -  $11.70 per user per month

    Reasons to Opt for the Monthly Version

    By opting for the 365 version, users can benefit from several key advantages.

    1 - Visio will always be updated to the latest version (meaning if Visio 2018 comes out, or a newer release of 2016, you will always have the latest build)

    2 - Automatic Updates - Applied to the back end, these updates will include new feature releases in addition to security and performance patches for enhanced stability and protection.

    3 - Multiple Devices - Access VISIO from multiple computers and devices. Want to work from home? Don't have your laptop or work computer with you? No problem. With multiple device license support, you can do it all. Keep in mind this is PER USER - each license will need to be assigned to one user.

    Alternatively, if these features do not strike you as important, you can always opt for the retail version, and pay a one time fee.

    Ways to Buy Visio 365 or Visio Retail:

    Visio can be purchased through a Certified Microsoft Re-seller, or directly from Microsoft. Pricing and the plans vary per the table above. Visio Online / Visio Pro can be purchased by single license or in bulk. Same goes with retail. That being said, if you are looking for 5 or more licenses, you can compare quotes and save substantially by option for the retail, the volume license version. Ready to get started? Explore our online store.

    Have more questions about Visio for Office 365? We're here to help. Call our Microsoft Certified experts at 1-877-292-7712. Royal Discount is a trusted software re-seller specializing in Microsoft and Symantec licensing. Learn why we have been a trusted resource for individuals, businesses and corporations for over 15 years running.

  • Comparison Guide for Microsoft Office Versions

    Office Computer

    Microsoft created Office in a wide range of versions to fit many different needs. Each version is built to address the main needs for a user-class, whether home, business or academic. But with so many versions you may wonder which version is best for you. With that in mind, here is a guide to assist in your choice between Office versions.

    First, all versions of Microsoft Office have the staple applications, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. These applications are in wide usage in many industries with Word and Excel formatted documents some of the most the common standards. For basic versions you will have what you need to accomplish regular tasks with these basic applications. PowerPoint is a great tool for making all kinds of presentations even for students. OneNote is a handy application which can be used for a large variety of activities, even capturing recordings and video. Additionally, all Microsoft Office versions offer product support.

    All Microsoft Office 365 versions have some additional features and licensing. Regarding the latter point, Office 365 is an annual subscription regardless of whether the version is Home, Personal or University. However, these versions vary in the number of devices on which the subscription can be used. Office 365 Home can be used on up to five PCs, Macs or tablets as well as 5 phones. Office 365 Personal is less expensive but only offers use on one computer device and 1 phone. Meanwhile, Office 365 University can be licensed for two computers and 2 phones.

    In addition to being subscription-based, all Office 365 versions offer some extras that may not be available on other Office version. Office 365 includes Outlook, Publisher and Access as well as 1TB of cloud storage via OneDrive for either five users (Home version) or 1 user (Personal and University). Additionally, Office 365 subscribers have sixty free minutes of Skype per month for between five users (Home) and one user (Personal and University). Finally, Office 365 offers continually up-to-date applications, so subscribers have all the latest features at their fingertips.

    All other versions of Microsoft Office 2016 are one-time purchased licenses at varying prices depending on your need. None of these one-time purchase version offers Ccoud storage, Skype minutes or continual updates (meaning when the license is expired, or Office 2016 is no longer supported, you may not receive any new updates). Each version is licensed for one computer only.

    Office Home and Student 2016 (PC and Mac versions) offers the same staple of applications that will keep you working on any common tasks you have. As mentioned above, these applications are Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.

    Office Home and Business 2016 (PC and Mac versions) have the same licensing and four main applications but add Outlook for your email needs. Business-class users can take advantage of robust email functions in Outlook, whether organization is small or large, to track calendar events and tasks as well as use domain-branded emailing, especially when email is hosted by the company. Outlook greatly enhances the collaborative features of the other Office applications in the version bundle.

    For those users with additional needs, Office Professional 2016 offers the same applications as the Home and Business versions (without support for Mac). Additional included applications are Publisher and Access. Professional users in need of database services without server availability can make use of Access to build a business database. Meanwhile, Publisher offers users the ability to create high-quality documents of all kinds from brochures to posters and much more.

    Microsoft Office is a robust group of applications offered in a variety of packages to meet anyone's needs. Office 365 subscription packages offer suitable extras for home, school and business use. One-time licensed versions can offer all the necessary applications while adding more applications for business-class users. Regardless of the version you need, you can rest assured that Microsoft Office will meet your needs with powerful, versatile applications. Meanwhile, Access and Publisher both extend the ability of the high-end business-class users with additional resources.

    For additional clarification of the offered versions, view of the Microsoft Office comparison guide in the table below:

    office comparison chart

    Office offers just what you need so purchase only what you need. The Office version guide pictured above should clarify what you need based on cost, type of licensing and applications or extra features offered. To learn more about Microsoft Office and what applications best benefit you, contact our experts at - your online source for cheap OEM, Retail & Cloud products.