After using my Microsoft Surface RT tablet for a week, I think I am ready to do a brief review!

The biggest concern I have heard around the web is the lack of apps available.

Honestly, this complaint seems to show just how little some reviewers understand this tablet. I am never loading Angry Birds on this tablet, nor any of the thousands of other fun apps. I have an iPad which is great for those apps. Nor am I going to read books on it or watch movies. I have a Kindle Fire for that, and it does a great job!

The Microsoft Surface is not about apps… it is about THE KILLER applications – Microsoft Office. This is THE tablet I can create and edit spreadsheets using Excel (which I use all day every day). Yes, my iPad and my Droid tablets have apps to do this… sort of. Formatting is lost, graphs don’t show, and it is almost impossible to really build a spreadsheet. But on the Surface it is just like working on my work PC, especially with the addition of the Surface Touch Keyboard. When you add in the other built in applications (IE 10, email, calendar, maps, contacts) you have a monstrous productivity tool!

When you combine the access to Microsoft Office and a keyboard to the integrated use of SkyDrive, things really get going. SkyDrive is Microsoft’s cloud storage solution that  enables you to very simply share files across multiple PC’s or devices. I work on a spreadsheet in my office, hit save (to the SkyDrive) and then continue later on my Surface tablet. Save it again and pick up where I left off the next morning at work on my PC again. Wherever I am, my docs are. Cool!

This is not the ‘do everything’ tablet. Yes, it has games, yes you can consume media… but those are things other tablets do better. Frankly, that is just fine with me. I don’t want the kids on this one. It is my tablet – a real ADULT TABLET. It serves as a bridge between work and home for me, in a way that simply exceeds the capabilities of any other device. Yes, I could use a laptop, but that is not as efficient for me. I do a lot of hauling kids around, a lot of on and off, and frankly that is not optimal for a laptop. Instant on, do something, and then off again – that is what tablets do so well.

I think Microsoft is on spot here, and believe that they got ahead of the market. This device represents bringing hardware, software, and cloud computing together in a way that is compelling and simple. It works, and it makes me more productive. Comparing this device to iPads and Kindles is pointless – sort of like comparing TV’s to Computers. Each has a different fundamental purpose, though there is overlap in functionality in many ways. You need to determine what you are trying to do, and buy the tablet that fits the core best.

For me, the Microsoft Surface is going to bring about a lot of Happy Computing!
Richard Brunke

So, Windows 8 is out, and Microsoft is making their big push to make us all aware of it and hoping we all love it. I've been using it a bit, and certainly reading all of the various reviews, and I have to both agree, and disagree with what I am reading.

First of all, one has only to do a little web searching to see that every release of a new version of Windows is followed at first by derision and moans of 'this is the worst ever, and the current is the best ever' which slowly change to 'this is the best ever… so much better than the last one'. I suppose its about change… and in general, we don't like change. Nonetheless, this particular change is for the better in my opinion. I found Windows 8 very intuitive, actually, and did not go through any 'steep learning curve' (which many reviewers seem to allude to). It took me about 10 minutes to figure out where everything was, and I was good to go.

I love the live tiles, they make so much better use of my home screen than the current Windows setup. They help me feel up to date and make it easy to keep relevant live content in front of me.

I think Microsoft nailed it. Windows 8 definitely shines in a touch screen environment, but even in a typical desktop environment, it brings plenty of goodness to the table. I still think that waiting a bit to upgrade (for businesses) may be sensible – perhaps awaiting a service pack release, but I have to admit I am eager to have it installed on my work PC, and may not wait.

Call me 'pleasantly surprised'!

Keep on practicing Happy Computing!

Richard Brunke

This is the final year that Microsoft will be selling its SBS server, a product tailor made to the needs of the 36 million or so small businesses (up to 25 users and 50 devices) which needed a cost effective method for deploying a Microsoft computing environment including Exchange for email as well as all the basic management tools needed for a computer network. It took a lot of functionality and packed it into a server package at a price that made sense for small business. And yes, Microsoft will be ceasing sales soon.

Moving forward, Microsoft will be adopting a blended method of supporting small business, using their cloud based offerings combined with their new Windows Server 2012 Essentials. This product will offer the server operating system, data protection, remote access capabilities, health monitoring, workload flexibility (the ability to chose which apps you will run on premise vs the cloud), and extensibility (allowing other vendors to build add on capabilities through Web Services API's).

The key missing element is Exchange (and SharePoint to a lesser degree).

You can either add exchange server separately, or (and this is where most companies will go) use Hosted Exchange and 'go to the cloud'. Microsoft is betting heavily on the fact that the flexibility of their cloud offerings will drive heavy adoption. From an Exchange and SharePoint standpoint, they are likely right. It makes a ton of sense for a small growing business to pay for what it uses only, and be able to add or remove users in real time. It reduces up front costs and reduces ongoing IT costs.

In this area, the cloud has arrived, and is ready for business.

But, not everyone will be able to go in this direction, at least not fully. It is possible to go 100% to the cloud, but regulatory requirements, line of business applications, or integration issues may make this impossible. Blended environments, such as the onsite essentials server with cloud based offerings for email and possibly even other applications (ERP, CRM, etc) may be a more likely path into the cloud.

The fact of the matter is, despite all of the hype and marketing, cloud computing is here and here to stay, and moves like this by Microsoft are actually pretty forward thinking and will drive further cloud adoption. There is no question that for many small businesses, moving to the cloud for email and collaboration is a very sensible move. There is nothing mystical about the cloud. We have all been using it for years (Hotmail or Gmail anyone?) These types of changes, along with Windows 8, which makes some aspects of cloud computing more natural and efficient, will continue to drive forward cloud initiatives.

But don't panic, life after the cloud looks a lot like life before the cloud. Just more efficient in some ways, more cost effective for some businesses. Onsite servers are not going away in most cases, but they may in some! It is all about knowing what questions to ask. That is where a credible IT consultant comes in (shameless pitch, but hey, its my blog).

So, Windows SBS is going away – its time is done. But the functionality it embodied is here to stay with the new offerings, which may better serve small business. Take note, Windows Home Server is going away also (for the same reasons, and replaced by the same products as SBS).

I've been impressed by Microsoft and their approach to cloud this year. Less hype, more function. More integration. More manageable IT costs and environments. Believe it or not, I am a big fan of that. IT is not going away, but its role has always been to support business in achieving its goals, including profits, and in many cases, this will help us help our customers with that. We'll still be here, and our customers will still need us, but the focus will shift and efficiencies will be gained.

It is all designed to bring about more happy computing!
Richard Brunke

Pre-orders have begun for the Microsoft Windows RT tablet. However, the Windows 8 tablets are not yet available. But wait… isn't Windows RT windows 8? Well, yes, sort of.

You see, Windows RT is a version of Windows 8 created to run on ARM devices, such as tablets and phones. These are low power consuming chips created specifically to be optimized for these devices. These are the same chips used for the plethora of Android tablets out there. Now, that being said, it is indeed Windows 8 and will be exceptionally similar for most users, but there are some key features that you should be aware will only be in the full Windows 8, which will come out on the Intel based tablets due out soon. The missing features are:

1. Windows Media Player will not be present in RT
2. Windows Media Center will not be present in RT
3. HomeGroup creation is not possible in RT
4. Domain join is not possible in RT

To go up a level, it is critical to understand that the RT version is not compatible with prior versions of Windows, and the only apps you can run on it are those that come with it, and those you purchase through the Windows App Store. Much like an Android or iPad (which each require you to purchase apps through an app store). If you want to run specific applications you have purchased for existing Windows PC's or laptops, you will need a full Windows 8 device, not the RT.

But, what makes this a compelling device to me are two simple things:
1. The keyboard cover. Sure, you can type on the screen, but if you are doing anything that requires quick and frequent changes from letters to numbers, or simply a lot of text, a keyboard can be a life saver. And one that acts as a cover and folds out of the way when you don't need it is a fantastic idea.
2. The inclusion of the Home and Student version of Office 2013.

For me, item #2 is what turns this into a personal productivity power house instead of just a media consumption too. I have a Kindle Fire. I have an iPad. They do some things well, and I use them both. However, when I need to work on a document, or edit a spreadsheet, it is Microsoft Word and Excel I want. Period. And this device is the ONLY one that brings that.

They had me at 'Office 2013'.

It is not a perfect device, and it is not the device Microsoft has created for seamless integration to a work environment. That will be the full Windows 8 devices. But those will be heavier, thicker, and have less battery life most likely. This is the perfect middle ground for me – a device that can do all of those nice media consumption pieces AND lets me to the real stuff I need to do in the way I want to do it when productivity time comes around. I'm not buying it for Angry Birds (though I'm sure it will be available). It is all about Office for me, combined with the new Windows 8 interface, which I believe to be optimal for mobile tablet computing. Yes, I like the live tiles.

Keep in mind, no Outlook here. It has an email client, and of course you can use Internet Explorer for the fully fleshed out Outlook Web Access experience (again, only on a Windows device can you use OWA the way it was meant to be used) but it is not going to have Outlook. Why? Because, that is a full business solution and that is NOT what Microsoft has positioned this device for. Again, that will be an application you can buy (no Office apps will be included with full Windows 8 devices) and install on the Windows 8 device.

All in all, it appears that the Windows RT device is a compromise device (in a good way). It will do a few things exceptionally well that no other device can do and do everything else just fine. It is those things (Office application use and keyboard) that make this perfect for me. It is a true personal productivity device. Full on business productivity will be full Windows 8 devices, but that is not what I am looking for. Use a laptop or a desktop for heavy computing. This is on the go, document viewing and editing goodness, as well as access to email and all the types of content you could want.

I like the RT device as a nice middle ground between what will ultimately be the Windows 8 ultra books (with detachable screen – aka tablets) and the current bevy of useful but not perfect tablets.

Learn more about the product and differences here:

Microsoft Surface Store

Buy one or don't, but always continue to practice
Happy Computing!
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New Website for ISOutsource

As our company grows and reaches new audiences, we occasionally find we have outgrown our website and feel the need to start again. In this case, it is not about brand, as our brand remains the same – we are here to ensure our customers are happy, productive and feel supported. That has been core to our business for years now and remains our brand promise, and central to how we run our business.

But the world of IT continues to grow and expand. Cloud is 'all intrusive' in the lexicon or IT and business for starters and it is critical to ensure everyone understands 'we do that'. More importantly, we wanted to make 100% clear that ISOutsource has a flexible approach to outsourcing that embraces both small business (often as a sole IT provider) all the way up to true mid size businesses with hundreds of employees who may really want to augment existing resources. We believe we are one of the few outsource providers that provides engagement methods for virtually any business that is serious about managing their technology in an intelligent and pro-active manner. Whether you have 4 employees or 400 we have offerings that will speak specifically to your needs, to your business. Flexibility is the key to our business, as is exceptional services done in a transparent way.

We earn tomorrows business from our customers through the service we provide today. That is important to us. Long term contracts have their place I suppose, but not in IT. You deserve the flexibility to work with a vendor who earns your business every day rather than once every 2 or 3 years. You deserve the opportunity to work with an IT firm that, while focused on being a provider of managed services, still understands that your investment levels in IT will ebb and flow as your business cycle changes, and you need to manage to that reality, rather than be forced to manage to the schedule of a fixed price, fixed service contract which limits your choices and ability to rapidly adjust to technology changes.

We understand budgets and work to them all the time. Time and materials is not open season on billing… if that were true we would not maintain clients very long. Time and materials is simply the most transparent model available to our customers to ensure that they have a chance to understand and validate the value of all of our actions taken on their behalf.

Anyhow, you can read through the site and see all of this, likely worded far more eloquently than I do here. The fact is, I am proud of the company that we have built with the support of our customers, and I feel like our new site helps show what that company can do and how it can help you. If you have ever wondered how an outsource provider may be able to help you, fill in a contact form and talk to us!

We look forward to adding you to our list of happy, productive and supported customers.

Because it is all about happy computing!
Richard Brunke – COO

Windows 8 Upgrades

This question comes up every time Microsoft releases a new version of Windows – Do I upgrade, or not?

It is not a simple question, and one that has real business ramifications. I'll make this one simple for most of you – if you are NOT using touch screen computers, and you are NOT interested in being on the latest and greatest thing for the sake of being on it, then NO, you don't need to jump on the bandwagon of upgrading your PC's right away. Windows 8 is a big change for the OS, and one that absolutely represents the future of computing. Trust me, you will all be using Windows 8 eventually, and will wonder how you got by without it. But perhaps not today for many of you.

It is likely you WILL experience it in other ways, such as Windows 8 phones (I am VERY excited by the OS as it relates to smart phones) and tablet computers. Windows 8 will take the tablet experience to a new level for business users in my opinion, offering the business user a tablet with complete Microsoft Office functionality. That is HUGE for me and will be for many of you. These mobile devices will let us cut our teeth on the OS and get used to it, and as we go through our next hardware replacement cycle, many of us will start considering touchscreen enabled desktops. There is huge potential for productivity increases in these devices with the proper operating system.

So, upgrade if you like. Upgrade if you have a touch screen currently. But don't feel that you are being left behind right now if you don't. You will… soon enough. I will say, however, if you are on XP, its time to move on. Windows 7 is a powerful and stable environment and holding on to the comforts of the soon to no longer be supported XP just does not make sense… but that is another topic all together.

I'll be using a Windows 8 tablet soon. I believe it will be a critical mobile productivity tool. I look forward to talking more about it next month!
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Stay tuned… I think I'll discuss the differences between RT and Standard Windows 8 for tablets in my next blog entry!

And keep practicing Happy Computing!
Richard Brunke

Well, zombies are very popular right now, and it only was a matter of time before someone figured out how to link Zombies and IT. Well, it happened! An article entitled Zombies Are Killing Your Bottom Line actually turned out to be a relevant and interesting read and I thought I'd summarize a few key points to consider for those of you interested in protecting your bottom line (anyone???).

The key point of the article, which experience tells me is 100% correct, is that the odds are that most businesses have servers running that are not doing anything relevant, or that could be decommissioned.

All of us know that our needs change over time, as does our infrastructure. With changes in IT, sometimes no one is really clear what the server does, or thinks it can be decommissioned, but fails to do so because of fear of creating downtime, or interrupting something that may be relevant. The more servers you have, the more consolidation you've done, the more risk that this is a real issue!

Sometimes the server simply has been partially decommissioned, but left running, though it is no longer providing any relevant purpose. So, why care? Well, it is important to keep in mind that these 'zombies' cost money to run. In fact, the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative, Sept. 2011 states that the average cost to support a single mid-tier server is $2,000 per year! Wow.

Think about the efforts we go through to save a few hundred dollars here and there, and you realize that identification and eradication of zombies is important, and even in a small business could easily add up to many thousands of dollars. Especially in light of other estimates that state between 10 and 30% of most companies servers are indeed zombies! If you have 6 servers, you may be sitting on a few of these and spending $4,000 per year. Can you think of a use for that? I know I could!

The secret is documentation! If you don't have excellent documentation, then spend the time or money to get that done and figure out what zombies you may be harboring behind the closed doors of your server room. Then execute a program to fully decommission these zombies and eradicate the waste they represent. IT spend it part of business, but IT waste does not have to be, and servers should not be allowed to become expensive zombies sucking the life out of your profits! As always, Happy (and cost effective) Computing!

June 20, 2012 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                             
ISOutsource Named One of Washington's Best Workplaces by Puget Sound Business Journal
2012 Finalists to be honored and winners announced at special event on August 9  

SEATTLE, WA – June 20 – ISOutsource was named as one of the finalists for Washington's Best Workplaces by the Puget Sound Business Journal.  The program was launched in 2007 to identify and recognize best practices in the hiring and retention of great people.  This year, after an extensive and rigorous process, which included more than 300 nominees and the completion of surveys by nominee-company employees across the state, workplaces in four different categories have been identified as Washington's best, based on their various employee benefit offerings, leadership culture and work/life balance philosophies. In total, 85 companies have made the grade as finalists.  

The computer industry often ignores the people it supports and places the focus on technology.  By contrast, ISOustource has developed a culture that is customer-focused.  The company has found that the market is very responsive to this unique approach and the result has been an enviable 26% year-over-year growth.   

"At ISOutsource we find that when we provide a happy, productive and supported experience for our clients, that carries over to our employees as well." says Day Hay, owner and CEO.  "We do things differently at ISOutsource, and we know that when employees feel valued they deliver on our promise and clients will experience happy computing."  

"Work force development has never been more important – or more difficult – than it is in today's global economy," said Gordon Prouty, publisher of the Business Journal. "We believe the Business Journal has an important role to play in drawing attention to innovations and excellence in the management of our region's No. 1 resource: its people."  

The finalists will be celebrated at a one-of-a-kind awards event at Safeco Field on Aug. 9. Honorees and the public alike are invited to come cheer for the workplace accomplishments of these companies from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The celebration will include ballpark food and drink, walking the bases, speed pitching, and an awards presentation. The company with the greatest number of employees present will win a suite at a future Seattle Mariners game.  

For more information, visit:    

About ISOutsource is the largest provider of I.T. consulting services in the Pacific Northwest and is the trusted partner for over 500 companies.  With vast resources, ISOutsource provides flexible end-to-end I.T. field consulting services combined with their best-in-class local help desk ensuring a fast response time.  Founded in 1992 and headquartered in Bothell Washington, they have additional office locations in Seattle, Tacoma and Portland.  ISOutsource holds the rare distinction of being a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner.  Visit ISOutsource on the web at  

About Puget Sound Business Journal is the region's premier source of business information, serving an unparalleled audience of business and community leaders. In addition to the weekly newspaper, the Business Journal provides 24/7 business news via its web site and email alerts.  The company also plays a vital role in bringing the area's leadership community together by hosting a wide variety of events throughout the year, from the annual 100 Fastest Growing Private Companies celebration to the Women of Influence awards event. Puget Sound Business Journal is a unit of American City Business Journals, which operates 40 local business newspapers throughout the United States. Visit Puget Sound Business Journal on the web at or  

Tammey Newton, Director of Sales and Marketing
(425) 646-6004  


Well, maybe. The new iPad will cost the same as the old but will have a screen (double the old) resolution and updated technology to keep it fast. There's more, but their are also a thousand blogs to look that up on. The question I wanted to answer is 'is this a game changer for business users'. Likely no. 4g is the biggest feature change for a power business user, with hot spot capabilities. Considering how many people spend most online time in wifi mode, even that is of limited value in terms of upgrades in my opinion.

So, its cool. For personal uses like casual gaming and video, it is an amazing upgrade. For work, I'd not move my iPad 1 and 2 users over by any means.

But there was more to the press conference that really has some meaning. Apple stated that 76% of their sales were from 'post PC' products. They also stated that iPad sales in Q4 (units) were higher than the sales of the largest PC manufacturer in units for their PC's.

From an IT standpoint, that is a transformational statement. From a business standpoint, that means that these devices are proliferating at an astounding rate. People want them and are buying them, and they are integrated personal/business devices in many cases.

There is an opportunity for business to embrace this and reap the productivity rewards these devices offer. Make it known that you are tablet friendly and have IT help users configure these devices to fully enable business productivity use. Between the Apple tablets and the Amazon offering and all the 'also ran's' the odds are many of your employees are using these devices daily.

Heck, you may reap the benefits without even having the make the investment! As I've posted before, I think the investment justified. It has paid off for me and my team (we all use iPads). Tapping into these productivity resources and being ready to embrace them and integrate them into IT plans is not only smart, its necessary.

Happy post PC Computing!

-Richard Brunke

" />There are many scary things in life: taxes, death, spiders and the newest one for the list – texting while walking. The following video takes a humorous approach to this new issue.


Ok, so perhaps it is not the 8th sign of the apocalypse, but it is a legitimate concern for all of us and our employees. Keep in mind, if you expect people to be 'always on' and responding within a minute to any text or email you send, you are not really giving them much choice other than to be a texting driver, texting walker, etc.

I for one remember fondly the concept of collecting up my thoughts and concerns and delivering them via a daily phone call with my boss. A focused time of communications and priority setting. Then I spent my day achieving those goals, making decisions and doing things. Not texting or emailing about doing things, but actually doing them.

I love technology. I love the added productivity it enhances our lives with. However, I also realize that we have to be smart and manage these tools and use them intelligently, not become enslaved by them.

My simple rules for texting (or emailing) on a mobile device:

1) In the bathroom. Never. Just don't. I could explain, but I should not have
2) Driving. Never. People die that way.
3) On a date or in a social setting. Be careful. It is no different than starting up a physical conversation with another person, so be aware of who you are with.
4) Walking. Maybe not. Or at least not near traffic, water fountains, doors, or crowds. Plenty of YouTube 'fails' to see on texting and walking to prove that this now belongs on the list.

Let's just be careful out there, and practice safe AND Happy Computing.

-Richard Brunke