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Adobe have just announced that CS6 perpetual software will no longer be available via volume licensing to educational users from the 28th of February on. This isn’t surprising, given that CS6 hasn’t been available to purchase in the commercial & government sphere for quite some time. However this will have an impact on institutes still relying on CS6.

So what options are available from March on?

The only purchase offer available under volume licensing will be Creative Cloud for Teams subscription – so this means a 12-month access to the latest version of Adobe’s Creative products, CC 2014. Not ready to switch to CC 2014? Well – good news – the Creative Cloud subscription also offers access to CS6; so you can install CS6 instead, or even install both CS6 & CC 2014, and run them side by side. So CS6 isn’t going away, and will still be readily available, but only via an annual subscription. CS6 itself is now over two years old, so the switch to CC 2014 is recommended, to avail of the latest Creative toolsets from Adobe.

In the meantime, CS6 perpetual licenses will still be available to purchase until the 28th of February, so you have over a month to consider your options and requirements.

Finally, we are expecting some attractive promotions from Adobe to ease the transition from perpetual to subscription – more to follow.

Regards,

Fionán Ó Cinnéide

Microsoft has announced that Windows Server 2003 support is ending July 14 2015. Common questions we have seen customers ask are, ‘What will this mean for my organization?’ ‘What happens after July 14?’ and ‘What can I do now?’

Windows Server 2003 will continue to operate after July 14 2015, but importantly it will operate unsupported by Microsoft. This means no security fixes will be released for Server 2003 and support (free or paid) will be non-existent. The lack of updated security fixes is a major issue, exposing your environment to possible malware attacks. Plus newly released applications will unlikely be supported on Windows Server 2003.

So what should I do? The simplest way to deal with potential issues is to get current and upgrade to windows Server 2012R2.
For more information on bringing your Server up to date please contact info@micromail.ie or 021 4515590.

Regards,

Hugh O’Donoghue

Like many other major software vendors, such as Microsoft & Adobe, Autodesk are moving down the road towards a subscription service for their customers. It’s a great fit for Autodesk products, which are already updated annually, are often project orientated and require flexible access to software, and already have an extremely high take up of maintenance subscription (new version cover & support).

However, the move towards subscription has resulted in some significant licensing changes, which are important to understand for users with legacy Autodesk products in place, or new users.

Upgrade Policy Change

As of February 1st 2015, you will no longer be able to upgrade any older version of your Autodesk products. At the moment, it’s still possible to upgrade from 6 versions back (and Autodesk have a great legacy upgrade promo this month as well) allowing customers to skip releases; but this will no longer be an option as of February next. Let’s have a look at how this could affect an AutoCAD LT transactional purchase customer, who likes to skip versions, and purchase sporadically.

A new LT licence is approx. €1200 ex. Vat. Previously, this could be upgraded in future for approx. €840 ex. Vat; however from Feb 2015 on, an upgrade to any new version will cost the full price- €1200 ex. Vat.

This does not affect customers who already have an active maintenance subscription in place, as new version cover is included in this option.

So how best to react to this significant change?

Desktop Subscription (Rental)

This is an ideal solution to the removal of upgrades. Some of the great benefits:

Highly recommended for users seeking project & budget flexibility, plus all the great features of Autodesk products & support services.

Upgrade before February 2015 – and include Maintenance Subscription

For users with Autodesk legacy products, it is strongly recommended to upgrade to the latest version of the product today – and include maintenance subscription. This allows perpetual licence purchasers access to new version releases, support, cloud services, and flexible use rights.

Autodesk are currently running several promotional offers to upgrade with maintenance subscription – so anyone with legacy Autodesk products should seriously consider upgrading today, before their assets are reduced in value.

Regards,

Fionán Ó Cinnéide

Adobe announce a new version release – Join Micromail & Adobe to see it in action.

Adobe today announced the launch of the latest release of their Creative tools- Creative Cloud 2014. This new version release offers new products, and a host of great new updates to your favourite applications.

Come and join Micromail & Adobe in Dublin on the 15th of July, as Adobe product specialists demonstrate the latest exciting features of the new release – Register Now.

Here’s a brief highlights list of the new features:

  • Photoshop CC- blur gallery motion effects, focus mask, advanced content aware facilities & perspective warp.
  • Illustrator CC- live shapes.
  • InDesign CC- EPUB fixed layout and added editing features.
  • Muse CC- now a native 64bit application.
  • Premiere Pro & After Effects- Live Text Templates, Masking and Tracking
  • Dreamweaver CC- Element Quick View

And the exciting new products:

  • Adobe Sketch- free form sketching for the iPad
  • Adobe Line- precision drawing & drafting for the iPad
  • Adobe Photoshop Mix- basic Photoshop features for the iPad
  • Lightroom mobile for iPhone

The best way to see all these new features in action is to join Micromail & Adobe in Dublin on the 18th of July; two Adobe product specialists will be providing a detailed overview, and showing off the latest application updates.

Register Now.

Hope to see you there, Fionán

Effective June 1st, CS6 will no longer be available under TLP & CLP Licensing programs.

Why are Adobe taking this action?

CS6 is over 24 months old, and hasn’t been updated since its release. In the meantime, the new CC release has seen over 500 new feature improvements & additions since its release last May.

Adobe will only develop future new releases for subscription customers – so now is a good time to consider transitioning to Creative Cloud for teams.

Firstly, there is the chance to avail of Adobe’s 40% year one discount offer, valid until the end of May; once that is combined with Adobe’s other promo – the year 2 price lock, it’s a saving of 40% over two years. An attractive offer, considering the full product set and host of new features.

So what exactly is included in the Cloud offering?

For starters, to see what’s new in Creative Cloud for teams, click here.

Then, of course, there are the products: Creative Cloud for teams includes Adobe Master Collection Suite, plus Adobe Muse, Edge, Lightroom 4 & Acrobat XI.

A similar range to CS6, but with many new updates, and some exciting, innovative new applications like Adobe Edge & Muse.

But it’s in services & support that the real value of the Cloud kicks in:

Services:

  • 100 GB of cloud-based storage per user with complete plan
  • Online services for file sharing, collaboration, and publishing apps and websites
  • Showcase and discover creative work with Behance
  • Access to over a thousand font families —– all organized, searchable, and easy to add to your projects
  • Digital Publishing Suite Single Edition gives users the ability to produce interactive documents through the App Store

Support:

  • Free getting started support
  • One-on-one ‘‘how to’’ support sessions with Adobe product experts twice annually with the purchase of complete plan
  • Access to an ever-growing library of training videos and easy to use learning content

And of course, further advantages include the annualised payment offers predicable budgeting options, and the admin portal, allowing for easy licence deployment & management.

Contact Micromail today to get started.

Adobe Education

Adobe Educational customers will continue to be able to access CS6 under CLP programs. However, the same applies – CS6 won’t be updated in future, so a move to CC subscription is advisable.

The good news is that from May on, the CC release will be available on a per device basis- so educational labs can now access the CC release and the individual applications.

Any customers, with an Adobe agreement in place, can avail of the top level of discount (tier 4).

Creative Cloud vs Creative Cloud for teams.

For businesses, Government Departments, charities, and educational institutes Creative Cloud for teams is the only option:

The individual offering is licensed to the individual only- so can’t be transferred to anyone else; therefore it’s wholly unsuitable to a business or educational environment.

Adobe Creative Cloud for teams vs individuals

Adobe Creative Cloud for teams vs individuals

 

Regards, Fionán.

CESI 2014 Conference took place in Galway on the 28th Feb/1st March. Founded in 1973, CESI or Computers in Education Society of Ireland, has strived to deliver information and understanding to teachers on how best to use technology in the classroom. It has been a forum ‘organised by practitioners for practitioners…’, hosted on their busy website, as well as the usual social media and of course the annual conference. The conference offers a chance to meet those people you have spoken with throughout the year, as well as a chance to meet vendors and see what’s new on the market.

On the road to TeachMeet

Having been offered the chance to present on the Saturday, I drove up Friday afternoon in order to attend the TeachMeet event that evening. TeachMeet is a more informal event where presenters are given 2, 5 or 7 minutes to present something they believe would be of interest to the (largely primary/secondary school teacher) audience. They were encouraged to do so without PowerPoint, a big departure for those familiar with such events!

Highlights included Mary Linehan’s (@linehanbm) presentation on using MineCraft in the history classroom. She demonstrated how the development of your character in MineCraft closely resembles the development of society through the ages, from agrarian societies through the iron-age and into the industrial revolution. A really interesting presentation, and no PowerPoint!

Another standout presentation saw Bianca Ní Ghrógáin (@groganbee) demonstrate how she turned her pupils into piano keys. How? Well, by electrocuting them by the look of it!! All questions to @groganbee on the actual methods involved. This demonstration saw @groganbee trending higher for a time than the Eurovision qualifiers. The interest in the presentations saw the running times extend slightly. No one was in a rush to finish up and the TeachMeet ran into the early hours. Of course I retired at a reasonable hour, in order to be prepared for my own presentation the next morning!

Onward to GMIT for CESI proper

The next morning saw the venue move from the Clayton Hotel to the main GMIT campus and after a welcome address and keynotes, the breakout sessions began. Tom Lonergan, National Co-ordinator of the Professional Development Service for Teachers (Formerly NCTE) gave an impassioned speech about the use of wireless networks in schools, as well as touching on the BYOD phenomenon. Tom was anxious to warn schools to shop around when contracting for a wireless infrastructure contractor, as well as stressing the need for a substantial support contract.

Other memorable breakouts were ‘An Introduction to the Raspberry Pi’ by Jake Byrne, ‘Open Education Resources, Portals and Communities, Supporting Innovation in Education’ by Neil O’Sullivan and a number based on the options around bringing CoderDojo into your classroom.

Microsoft Licensing In Education

I took the stage shortly after 12:30 to run through my presentation on licensing software in schools, with a specific look at the Microsoft and Adobe options. After running over the basics of software licensing, I discussed the potential benefits of certain agreement types over others. I also touched on the new Student Advantage benefit for schools with an annualised agreement which includes Microsoft Office. This benefit offers the school’s students the opportunity to deploy Office 365 Pro Plus on up to 5 of their personal devices.

Microsoft  O365 Student Advantage

Adobe for Schools

I also ran through the basics of Adobe licensing for schools, as well as highlighting such free resources as the Adobe Apps for Education and Adobe for Academics. Both of these resources offer training tools and forums for educators.

Adobe Apps for Education

The presentation was well received (I hope!), with a number of follow up questions from teachers about their specific site requirements. If you would like to discuss the topics covered, or indeed run through the presentation itself, feel free to drop me a line directly at sean@micromail.ie. Looking forward to CESI 2015 already!

Regards, Seán

Microsoft has plans to shut down the Forefront Online Protection for Exchange (FOPE) service and migrate its existing customers to Exchange Online Protection (EOP).

What is Exchange Online Protection (EOP)?

Exchange Online Protection (EOP) is a new and more advanced cloud-based email filtering service that replaces FOPE. Like FOPE, it helps protect your organisation against spam and malware, and includes features to safeguard your organization from messaging-policy violations. EOP includes several new features that were not available in FOPE, including a new administration center, the ability to use Exchange transport rules to enforce email policies, and enhanced handling of bulk email messages. EOP is currently available in three different subscription plans:

  • EOP standalone: Where EOP protects your on-premises mailboxes.
  • EOP features in Exchange Online: Where EOP protects your Exchange Online cloud-hosted mailboxes.
  • Exchange Enterprise CAL with Services: Where EOP protects your on-premises mailboxes, like EOP standalone, and includes data loss prevention (DLP), remote Windows PowerShell administration capabilities, and reporting using web services.

Action Required for FOPE Customers

No changes are needed to the customers’ existing enrolment. Customers will be sent an email from Microsoft which gives them step-by-step instructions on how to convert their existing FOPE subscription to the EOP service. Customers will be notified of their individual transition date via email 30 days prior to transition. After transition the volume license agreement will continue to reflect FOPE until its expiration date. FOPE will eventually be replaced by EOP when you sign your next 3 years agreement with Microsoft. Additionally new customers can sign up for an EOP trial or purchase EOP via the web at the Exchange Online protection home page.

To note: Existing Office 365 customers who are using online services except for Exchange online can set up their EOP service within the same account. This allows users to manage EOP alongside Office 365 services after your transition is complete.

For More Information

Contact Micromail today to setup your EOP trial or to discuss your licensing options.

Regards, David.

When Adobe announced their move to subscription licensing this time last year, one of the first questions many people asked was ‘Will I have access to new versions on release?’. And Adobe’s answer was ‘The version you have access to (CC) will always be the most recent’.

By this, Adobe were stressing the point that with the new subscription model users would be granted immediate access to updates on releases. This is a change from the previous model where updates were released in ‘batches’ as CS ‘point releases’ – so CS5.5 included updates to most of the individual applications that had been included in CS5. However CS5.5 would necessitate a new purchase, there was no free-of-charge upgrade for CS5 users. For CC subscribers the updates will simply become available as they trickle out, no waiting until all applications have been updated. This point demonstrates well the fact that while CC is the latest version, it is not ‘CS7’, because there will only ever be CC and it will always be the most recent version!

So what prompted this blog entry? Well, the fact that we have just seen the release of the slew of these updates – as per Adobe:

‘Updates are now available for Flash Pro CC, Edge Code CC, Premiere Pro CC, After Effects CC, Speedgrade CC, Adobe Media Encoder CC, and Story Plus CC. Flash Pro CC adds support for HTML Canvas enabling the direct creation of HTML5/CSS3 content within Flash Pro without the need to use the CreateJS extension. Edge Code CC adds support for live browser connections enabling instant testing and debugging of code. Premiere Pro CC, After Effects CC, Speedgrade CC, Adobe Media Encoder CC, and Story Plus CC all receive numerous performance and usability updates to enhance the overall video workflow.’

So CS4, CS5, and CS6 users if you are considering upgrading, and want to understand the options around Adobe licensing and how to have the latest version on tap, feel free to drop me a line @ sean@micromail.ie.

Regards, Seán.

Windows XP Support Ends April 2014

As you may be aware, Microsoft are planning to discontinue support for Windows XP and Office 2003 from 8th April 2014. What you mightn’t know is exactly what this means for your school. What will happen at that time and what should you do to prepare?

The first thing to note is that Windows XP and Office 2003 will continue to work beyond that date. So what’s the problem?! Well the problem is that although the software will continue to run, it will be unsupported. This means no security fixes and no paid or free support. The lack of updated security fixes is a major issue, exposing your environment to possible malware etc., coupled with the fact that solutions will no longer be aimed at the XP/Office 2003 market. Furthermore, you will find less and less software is compatible with your school machines.

So what action, if any, should be taken? The simplest way to deal with potential issues is to get current, and the easiest way to get current is to consider the OVS ES offering for schools. With this offering you pay a single annual fee, deploying your chosen software on all machines onsite. The annual fee is based on staff count rather than machine count and you can license whichever software you choose. A common choice is Office Pro Plus and Windows Upgrade, meaning you can bring all machines up to Windows 7 or 8 as you choose and deploy Office Pro Plus 2010 or 2013 as you see fit. The major benefit here is the fact that the annual cost is based on staff rather than machine count. However another benefit is that you will always have access to new versions on release – so you’re always current and always supported. To discuss this offering and the other benefits it offers please contact me at sean@micromail.ie.

Regards, Sean.

While rolling out Windows 8.1 here at Micromail, we have been testing that the various tools we use will work. One such tool is the Microsoft eAgreements software that partners must use for contract work. The good news is that it does work, however the installation is not seamless. Here’s how we did it.

Step 1: eAgreement Signup (not really part of the installation but certainly a pre-req)

After being approved, register with your Microsoft account (Windows Live ID) or Partner Domain account. Public Customer Number (PCN) and business email address required.

Step 2: Download and install SQL Server Compact 3.5

You will have to install both 32 and 64 bit if you are running a 64 bit OS.

Download SQL Server Compact

Download SQL Server Compact

Step 3: Enable .Net Framework 3.5

Enable .NET 3.5

Enable .NET 3.5

Accessed from Control Panel->Programs->Programs and Features->Turn Windows Features on or off

Step 4 : You can now install the eAgreements software

NB: You must be an administrator for all of the above.

Regards, David