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Microsoft Asks 400 Million People To Buy A New PC…And Other Small Business Tech News

Computer Stores Prepare For Release Of Microsoft Windows 7

Here are five things in technology that happened this past week and how they affect your business. Did you miss them?

1 — Microsoft is recommending that 400 million users buy new PCs by next month.

After recently announcing that they will be ending support for the Windows 7 Operating System, Microsoft released a statement this week suggesting that its nearly 400 million users still on Windows 7 switch entirely to Surface rather than upgrade their devices. The company detailed that—for most users who are using Windows 7—navigating over to a brand new PC that has Windows 10 Pro will be the most efficient move since—according to Microsoft—those devices are more secure, powerful, lightweight, and operate faster than the previous models. (Source: MS Power User)

Why this is important for your business:

OK, no one’s saying that you HAVE to buy a Surface. There are plenty of other great devices you can get for your business that also run Windows 10. But please…if your company still has computers running Windows 7 you have to do something. Upgrade. Switch to new devices. Turn them off. Computers running older operating systems like Windows 7 are very vulnerable to malware attacks which means that the cost of not upgrading could very well exceed the cost of replacing those older computers.

2 — Google is planning to kill support for third-party cookies that track you all over the internet. 

Google announced this past week that—within the next two years—it is planning to cease support for third-party cookies in its Chrome browser. Ad networks and advertisers are typically the ones who add third-party cookies in an effort to track users through various sites in order to help target advertisements and monitor performance. Before Google begins to dial back support for third-party cookies within Chrome, they first plan to navigate meeting the needs of advertisers, publishers, and users who will be impacted by the change. (Source: CNBC)

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Why this is important for your business:

This is a potentially big deal. Cookies from third parties are at the core of many brands’ efforts to track visitors and drive ads to their attention. If your business does online ad campaigns or use re-targeting services to drive traffic to your website, then Google’s potential change could impact your marketing plans. Stay tuned.

3 — Apple’s new privacy features have further rattled the location based ad market. 

The deliberate steps that Apple took this past September to help users stay more informed regarding their data and what they share seems to be working. With their new privacy protection approach, background location data that was available for advertisers to target in the past, is now data that those advertisers need to do without. With the new privacy feature, users are able to decide whether or not they want the apps they are using to share their data with companies who—in the past—would have had access to it. Currently, typically less than 50% of users opt-in to allow their data to be shared with apps when they are not being used. (Source: DigiDay)

Why this is important for your business:

Man, between Apple and Google this is a bad week for advertisers. Does your business use location based advertising to attract customers? If so, then Apple’s new privacy features may have an impact on your marketing spend. The best thing to do is to play close attention to what apps are generating business and make sure that these trends continue over the upcoming months. If you see a drop off, it could be because of Apple’s new privacy protections and may make you change some of your marketing investments.

4 — After years of decline, the PC market saw rare growth in 2019.

Research released this past week indicated that the PC market had seen growth for the first time in 8 years. According to Gartner and IDC—the firms conducting the research—annual PC shipments over the last year went up. Although the numbers released by both firms differed—with IDC estimating the increase at 2.7% year over year and Gartner finding the figure to be only 0.6%— any growth is a move in the right direction for the industry, with smartphones having taken precedence over desktop and laptop purchases. (Source: PCMag)

Why this is important for your business:

Maybe this is understated. If Microsoft had their way, the company (per above) would say another 400 million PCs to buyers too! Two thoughts on this: because PC sales have dropped so dramatically over the past decade, growth was inevitable because things can only drop so far. Secondly, it’s good news. As things have shaken out in the hardware market, it’s clear from what I see at most clients that businesses do need PCs and laptops and that tablets and phones can’t do it all. So go ahead: get that new PC.

5— TurboTax, H&R block, TaxSlayer, and more were described as the best tax software for 2020. 

Editors at CNET—a tech news website—revealed their picks this past week for the best tax software companies for 2020. TurboTax was highlighted as being the best tax software for live personal support, offering several options regardless of how complicated one’s tax scenario is. (Source: CNET)

Why this is important for your business:

Looking for tax software? CNET’s piece above is a great resource for you. According to the editors there, for the best multiplatform option, H&R Block was highlighted for their features helping with taxes such as unlimited technical support, as well as chat and phone support for customers who are on a higher tier. TaxSlayer was deemed as having the best overall pricing for the services it provides, while Credit Karma Tax, Tax Act, and FreeTax USA were also highlighted for their features and offerings.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I was a former senior manager at KPMG and since 1994 the owner of the Marks Group PC, a 10-person customer relationship management consulting firm based outside Philadelphia. I’ve written six small-business management books, most recently “The Manufacturer’s Book of Lists” and “In God We Trust, Everyone Else Pays Cash: Simple Lessons From Smart Business People.” Besides Forbes, I formerly wrote for The Washington Post and the New York Times and now write regularly for The Guardian, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Inc., Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine and Fox Business. I make no compensation from the number of people who read what I write.

Source: Microsoft Asks 400 Million People To Buy A New PC…And Other Small Business Tech News

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Amazon Alexa application is authoritatively accessible in the Windows 10 Store. Amazon Alexa can enable you to complete numerous things on Windows 10 with s

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Microsoft Faces Immense Pressure After CES Success

Microsoft Event

With this year’s CES now at an end, we have a good idea where manufacturers and designers see the future. Success will be found in all things that fold. All across the Las Vegas Convention Center were the concept laptops which flexed and folded like Optimus Prime in Transformers.

Which puts a huge amount of pressure on Microsoft. It needs to deliver a version of Windows that will allow the hardware to live up to all the gambles made in Vegas by the end of 2020.

Let’s take a look at the CES successes powered by Microsoft’s Windows 10.

Intel produced a concept device, obviously to show what its chips can do with new laptop forms, but the fact that it was showing off the new form as a foldable laptop with a single screen taking up the screen, bending round the inside hinge, and then down over the space normally associated with the keyboard is a clear indication that this is a route it is comfortable with.

How about two of Dell’s examples; the ‘Concept Duet’ which shows a twin screen no physical keyboard design, and the ‘Concept Ori’ which is closer to a tablet design that can hinge upwards into a laptop style angle.

While Asus didn’t go for a flexing screen, the Asus ZenBook Duo also works on two screens, although here the second screen shares the bottom half of the laptop design with a physical keyboard.

The there’s Lenovo’s Thinkpad X1 Fold, which does go with the full screen that curves into thing when closed just as a normal laptop.

But there’s a literal twist to all of these innovative laptops. At CES they were all running Windows 10 Pro, a workmanlike solution at this early stage but not refined to make a seamless foldable or dual screen device feel like magic.

Luckily Microsoft has an answer in Windows 10X.

Windows 10X was announced in October 2019 alongside the dual screened Surface Neo as the operating system that would power this device – and it would allow for an ecosystem of devices from Microsoft’s partners. I suspect this is one of the key reasons that the announcement of Windows 10X happened in Q4 2019… it placed Microsoft publicly in the driving seat of foldable laptops it used the Surface brand to continue pushing innovative form factors and software, and its announcement created a tacit agreement to its partners that it would be ready by the end of 2020,.

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All this amounts to pressure. The early announcement of Windows 10X, coupled with the Surface Neo release window of Q4 2020 has created a hard deadline for the OS team to deliver not just to the Surface team at the Redmond Campus, but to Microsoft’s key hardware partners who have shown their hand at CES.

Microsoft has always looked forwards into the future but it usually remains behind closed doors until everything is cooked. With multi- and folding-screen technology, it has decided to share that future vision today. Let’s hope that Microsoft has thought carefully about delivering to that timetable.

Now read how the Surface team have beaten Apple’s iPad team in one key area…

Check out my website.

I am known for my strong views on mobile technology, online media, and the effect this has on the public conscious and existing businesses. I’ve been following this space for over ten years, working with a number of publishers, publications and media companies, some for long periods of time, others for commissions, one-off pieces or a series of articles or shows. As Scotland’s first podcaster, I continue to be a prominent voice in the rise of podcasting and new media online, and picked up a British Academy (BAFTA) nomination for my annual coverage of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, alongside contributions to Radio 5 Live, the BBC World Service, presenting Edinburgh local radio’s coverage of the General Election. You’ll find me on Twitter (@Ewan), Facebook, and Google Plus.

Source: Microsoft Faces Immense Pressure After CES Success

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If You Want to Grow Like Google, Make These Important Culture Moves at Your Office

Google might be a successful behemoth now, but at one time, it was a startup going through some serious growing pains. At one point in its aggressive development, co-founder Larry Page reportedly scrapped the company’s burgeoning middle management level. He quickly discovered that, despite his preferences, an additional supervisory layer was necessary to successfully scale operations without major hiccups.

Therein lies a major problem with scaling: It doesn’t just involve getting progressively bigger, like a blown-up balloon. Instead, its shape morphs as new needs arise, such as heightened employee responsibilities and changing customer expectations. And plenty of smart leaders ignore these red flags when they’re growing at breakneck speed.

What are some of those indicators of runaway growth? Team burnout might as well be a neon sign. Another problem is dwindling capital with no real profit sources in sight. Of course, unhappy customers are a sure side effect of unhinged expansion.

If you’re increasing revenue, you may be tempted to keep your foot on the pedal instead of tapping the brakes. Don’t halt your forward momentum, but remain open to addressing a few issues that will make scaling less challenging — and more rewarding — for all stakeholders.

Here are three ways you can help your office’s culture grow with the pace of your fast growing company:

1. Define and direct your team’s new cultural journey.

When you’re a 10-person shop, your culture may look and function like a big family. When you hit the 50- or 100-employee mark, complete with remote workers, you can’t sustain the same kind of atmosphere. That’s OK, but it means you need to rethink your team’s collective identity.

If you haven’t established your corporate purpose or vision, now’s the time. Choose a few main value points, and create robust statements around them. After you’ve run your ideas by trusted colleagues and tweaked them as necessary, release your vision so everyone’s on the same page.

Certainly, your culture will evolve as you get bigger. Google didn’t stay static; neither should your company. Nevertheless, establishing your corporate DNA before you get exceptionally large will help everyone remain true to your vision, even as changes naturally occur.

One of the biggest impacts I’ve seen on culture is to align everyone around shared values. The process of discussing the behaviors exhibiting each value has helped many of my clients create teams that work together toward a common goal.

2. Keep your head in the present moment.

Although you’ll need to project into the future, you can’t lose sight of your current growth stage. As a leader, your job is to be both a pragmatist and a visionary. Even as your world swirls with opportunities, you owe it to your workers to take the team’s capacity into account and establish a healthy baseline.

Are your people up to the challenges you’re about to face? Do they have the training and capabilities to handle emerging roles? Never make assumptions — they’ll always backfire. As you prepare for the next adventure, be open to upskilling staff and perhaps even shifting employees into different roles.

Experiment with new org charts, seeing which ones fit current and anticipated needs. Google’s Page quickly walked back his experiment in eliminating middle management, yet focusing on getting the right people in the right roles was crucial to Google’s success at that stage. Through trial and error, you can determine which employee, organization, revenue and profit restructures make the most sense to propel your business forward.

3. Discover and address operational bottlenecks.

When Page eliminated mid-level managers, he quickly realized that having one executive with 100 engineers reporting to him wouldn’t turn out well. Situations like that are bound to result in bottlenecks. Every fast-growing business experiences bottlenecks in areas like hiring, customer service and operations.

Some bottlenecks are relatively obvious, making them easier to fix. If an employee has so much paperwork to deal with that he’s become a living traffic jam, you need to streamline your processes — the problem is apparent, and you can intervene immediately.

Other issues may be buried deep within systems and supply chains, making them tough to pinpoint. For those situations, AI can provide critical insights. AI platforms can analyze thousands of data points at once, spotting problems that might take years to bubble to the surface.

You may or may not one day compete with the likes of Google. If you stick around, though, your organization will inevitably need to scale. The more you focus on thoughtfully navigating the experience, the better your outcome will be.

By: Gene Hammett

 

Source: If You Want to Grow Like Google, Make These Important Culture Moves at Your Office | Inc.com

@Ade Oshineye presents from the Google Developers Summit on how you as a developer can grow with Google+, namely highlighting: Reach, user acquisiton and conversion, user engagement and retention, and finally, when needed, re-engagement. #developer   #developers

Microsoft Crunched Reams of Employee Data. This Was the Ideal Number of Hours for a Leader to Work

As anyone who follows baseball or saw the 2011 film Moneyball knows, America’s favorite pastime now runs on data. Players are monitored on a minute level, generating a flood of statistics that both players and managers use to make better decisions. What would happen if we tried the same approach to leadership, Microsoft recently wondered?

What came next is the subject of a fascinating recent New York Times article by Neil Irwin, chronicling the effort of Microsoft HR manager Dawn Klinghoffer and Ryan Fuller, the founder of a data analysis startup, VoloMetrix, acquired by Microsoft, to wring insights from employees’ calendar and email metadata.

The long piece is centered on a mystery: why did people hate working at Microsoft’s hardware division so much (spoiler: the answer is mostly meeting bloat) and is a great read if you have a half hour to spare. But in the course of teasing out this answer, Irwin also reveals a few short, easy-to-digest takeaways of the project that can help anyone become a better leader.

1. Long hours are a sign of a bad leader.

Being a leader is an intense job, so we often expect that those at the top are going to need to put in intense hours. Not so, according to Microsoft’s data on managers. In fact, the analysis showed, “that people who worked extremely long work weeks were not necessarily more effective than those who put in a more normal 40 to 50 hours.”

Leaders, in particular, saw negative effects when they worked long hours. “When managers put in lots of evening and weekend hours, their employees started matching the behavior and became less engaged in their jobs, according to surveys,” notes Irwin.

Decades of research shows that while short bursts of overtime are fine, consistently clocking more than 40 hours a week leads to a marked drop off in productivity, so this shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. But with hustle porn so popular today, there are still plenty of leaders who haven’t gotten this message. Microsoft’s results should be one more nail in the coffin of the idea that routine long hours are a sign of a great leader.

2. One-on-one meetings are gold.

While the entire Microsoft project could be seen as one big indictment of bloated meetings, that doesn’t mean all get togethers are bad. In fact, the analysis suggested that one type in particular is essential if you aim to be a great leader.

“One of the strongest predictors of success for middle managers was that they held frequent one-on-one meetings with the people who reported directly to them,” writes Irwin.

3. Wide networks beat deep ones.

Everyone knows that who you know is key to business success, but exactly what sort of contacts are best? The Microsoft data provided a clear answer. When it comes to climbing the ladder, it’s not the depth of your connections that matter most, it’s the breadth.

“People who made lots of contacts across departments tended to have longer, better careers within the company. There was even an element of contagion, in that managers with broad networks passed their habits on to their employees,” Irwin reports.

Again, this jives with previous research showing that having an open network — i.e. being the type of person who connects different groups and knows people in a broad array of social and professional circles — is one of the best predictors of career success, not just for managers, but for everyone.

But just because these findings aren’t totally groundbreaking, doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable. Despite the data, a great many aspiring leaders try to grind their way to the top, neglect one-on-one relationship building, and work mostly to leverage their existing network full of people similar to them rather than trying to broader their connections.

These results out of Microsoft suggest that just by following the numbers and making a few small changes, you can give yourself a huge leg up in the race to become a successful leader.

 

Source: Microsoft Crunched Reams of Employee Data. This Was the Ideal Number of Hours for a Leader to Work | Inc.com

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