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Microsoft Surface









WHAT’S THE BEST?

BEST 2-IN-1: SURFACE PRO 6

The Surface Pro has seniority in Microsoft’s hardware lineup, having been first introduced in 2013 as a follow-up to the poorly received original Surface. The latest and greatest iteration is the Surface Pro 6, recently announced, that updated to 8th-generation Intel Core processors and thus offers quad-core computing in one of the thinnest Windows 10 tablets available.
We already loved the Surface Pro’s design, and the latest version does nothing to diminish it. It’s made of magnesium and enjoys the kind of fit and finish that comes with years of refinement. Microsoft didn’t change the aesthetics or the build this time around, and that’s for a good reason — it’s already just about perfect, with great balance and the best fold-down kickstand in the business.
Specs:
Core i5
8GB of RAM
128GB SSD
this does not include the Signature Pen

Who it’s good for?
 Anyone who wants a 2-in-1 device, either for tablet use, or as a laptop replacement.
What’s an alternative? Nothing.

BEST FOR ARTISTS: SURFACE STUDIO 2

surface studio 2 vs imac 01
At the very top of Microsoft’s Surface line is its innovative all-in-one (AIO) desktop, the Surface Studio 2. With its seemingly magical “Zero Gravity” hinge that allows the display to adjust from upright to the perfect drawing angle with just a touch, the Surface Studio 2 is a standout among modern AIO PCs.
As the name implies, the Surface Studio 2 is in its second generation, which built on the original Surface Studio design with improved performance thanks to a 7th-generation Intel Core i7-7820HQ CPU that’s a real step up from the previous version. Graphics performance was also significantly improved, with a choice between Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 and 1070 GPUs that promise to drive its gorgeous display at a much faster clip.
Specs:
Core i7-7820HQ
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 and 1070 GPUs
16GB of RAM
1TB SSD
this does not include the Signature Pen or the Puck Dial
Who it’s good for?
 Artists with big budgets who want a reasonably fast, hugely innovative, and expansive digital drawing platform

We at SyncMyOffice own a few of these devices at our premises and its been a pleasure working with the latest and greatest innovations including the HoloLens.

Credit to: DigitalTrends for their review

The Top 10 Azure Tools That Can Help Optimize Your Business













The Microsoft Azure Portal is the primary interface for managing apps, services and solutions commissioned on the Azure platform. This feature-rich web application allows you to interact with Azure services through a rich web-based interface, building, managing, and monitoring everything from simple web apps to complex cloud applications in a single, unified console.
  
You can also manage Azure through two built-in command line tools. Azure PowerShell which runs on a Windows platform providing a set of cmdlets for managing Azure resources, and the Azure CLI, a cross-platform tool providing the same functionality.
These three primary tools give you the power to manage everything on Azure. However, there may be times when the functionality is either limited or using the tool requires a level of skill you do not possess or have the time to master, say, in PowerShell command syntax. In these instances, there are many third-party tools developed by Microsoft and other vendors. These applications and services were created to help you achieve what you need to accomplish in Azure in the shortest possible time, or in the simplest possible way. Here are our top 10 tools which can assist you with everything from managing your Azure costs to DevOps automation.

#1. Azure Pricing Calculator

The Azure Pricing Calculator is a free web-based tool which helps you price and configure Microsoft Azure features for different solutions. By giving you the ability to set and estimate the costs for Azure products, this tool can help you produce indicative pricing and clear up the uncertainty of how much an Azure solution will cost you.

#2. Azure Storage Explorer

Azure Storage Explorer is an application running on Windows, macOS, and Linux. It helps you simply and efficiently manage the contents of your storage account with an easy-to-use graphical user interface. This tool lets you create, delete, view, and edit your storage resources ranging from blobs and queues to Cosmos DB and Data Lake. With Azure Storage Explorer you can also easily manage your virtual machine disks as well as manage and configure cross-origin resource sharing (CORS) rules.

#3. AzCopy

Copying data to and from Azure can be cumbersome using the Azure Portal. AzCopy is a light-weight command line utility that allows you to move data into and out of your Azure storage account and works with blobs, files, and tables. It works on both Windows and Linux, providing the optimal performance you need to move large amounts of Azure data rapidly and efficiently.

#4. Microsoft Certification Test Tool for Azure Certified Virtual Machines

Microsoft Azure is not only a cloud platform to provision services and create solutions. It is also an active ecosystem where you can upload a pre-configured application to the Azure Marketplace and grow your cloud business. The Microsoft Certification Test Tool for Azure Certified Virtual Machines is a Microsoft application which tests your virtual machine to ensure it is capable of running efficiently on Azure. It is designed to provide an assessment of compliance to technical requirements as part of the Azure Certified program and includes a wizard-style interface, with an automation and questionnaire section, which assesses the characteristics of a virtual machine image. Once you have successfully run the tool and passed all necessary tests, you just submit the results and your image to Microsoft who will classify your solution as Azure Certified.

#5. Azure App Service Migration Assistant

The Azure App Service Migration Assistant lets you migrate your on-premise IIS web application to the cloud. Created by Microsoft, this tool analyzes an IIS installation and identifies which sites hosted on the instance can migrate to Azure. It also identifies any web elements which cannot be migrated or are not supported on the Azure platform. When the analysis completes, it automatically creates the web apps and databases or, if your sites are incompatible, the readiness assessment indicates what additional configuration or design changes are needed.

#6. Jenkins

Building apps and rapidly updating them is a key competitive advantage for organizations operating in today’s digital age. To keep up with the pace demanded by users and business, software developers often deploy continuous integration. This practice of merging multiple independent pieces of development code into a shared repository helps ensure the sanctity of development best practices and creates better solutions through operations such as revision control and automated testing. Jenkins is an open-source automation server which helps development teams build, automate, and deploy their projects. Azure provides full Jenkins support and integration letting you deploy a Jenkins server on Azure and using it to automate your development processes and builds with continuous integration.

#7. Chef

One of the primary benefits organizations gain by moving to the cloud is the ability to scale. However, scaling infrastructure can be complex, especially if the configuration is different for various parts of the solution. Chef is an open-source configuration management tool which lets you automate IT infrastructure. Using ‘recipes,’ the chef user can apply configuration settings via a script which deploys to all the relevant components of a solution. This ensures standardization across all parts of a solution which not only provides a stable configuration context for scalability but also enhances the simplicity and efficiency of an IT environment. Chef on Azure allows you to standardize and automate the deployment of Azure virtual machines and is part of the Azure VM creation process as an optional extension.

#8. Puppet

Puppet is similar to Chef in that it too is an open-source software configuration management tool. Where Chef uses ‘recipes,’ Puppet uses ‘manifests’ to achieve automation standardization across an infrastructure configuration solution. The other difference between the two solutions is that a Chef user needs to write their ‘recipes’ using a pure-Ruby domain-specific language (DSL) whereas Puppet ‘manifests’ can be created using its own declarative language. Chef and Puppet essentially provide the same features, and like Chef, Puppet on Azure delivers the DevOps capability you need to manage your Azure configuration effectively.

#9. Ansible

Ansible, like Chef and Puppet, is another open-source DevOps tool which automates software provisioning, configuration management, and application deployment. However, as Ansible is a newer solution, it does not have the maturity or support community the other two configuration automation tools enjoy. It does have a few unique features. It uses an agentless architecture, which makes, it a real contender in the DevOps tool space. Using Ansible ‘playbooks’ on Azure, which are similar to Chef ‘recipes’ and Puppet ‘manifests’ you can automate your Azure environment managing items such as virtual machines, containers, and networks.

#10. Terraform

Like Chef, Puppet, and Ansible, Terraform is another DevOps tool which automates configuration management of IT environments. However, instead of using ‘recipes,’ ‘manifests’ or ‘playbooks,’ you write, plan, and create infrastructure in code. Also, where Chef, Puppet, and Ansible are configuration tools, Terraform adds the additional feature of orchestration. This functionality gives you the ability to provision servers automatically whereas the other tools only allow you to set and standardize configuration. By writing Terraform code on Azure, you can reliably standardize, configure, automate, and maintain entire Azure environments in code.

PRODUCTIVITY Evernote vs. OneNote: Which is best for your business?



If you’re someone who likes to jot down notes to keep their thoughts organized or whose line of work requires taking notes regularly, you’ve likely come across two of the most popular note-taking apps available today: OneNote and Evernote. Both of these apps have free versions and come with some very useful features, but each has pros and cons that set it apart from the other. While some users swear by OneNote, others prefer Evernote. Let’s discuss the features of both apps to help you decide which one is better for your business.

Taking notes

OneNote

Microsoft OneNote features the traditional Microsoft Office Ribbon that provides you with many features to create, edit, view, and organize notes. While creating notes, you can add text, images, tables, videos, audio files, spreadsheets, links, and more to your notes. This helps you create content-rich notes and keep all media associated with them in one place.
You can take freehand notes and draw freehand images using a touch-enabled device or a Microsoft Surface device. The usual Microsoft Office formatting and reviewing options help you create more appealing and accurate notes.
Evernote vs OneNote Which is best for your business 1

Evernote

Evernote includes most of the same note-creation features, like drawing and editing tools, but doesn’t provide some OneNote features like reviewing other users’ edits. Also, unless you tag your notes, they will keep piling up in an unorganized manner, and it will be difficult to search for them later.
Evernote vs OneNote Which is best for your business 3

Organizing your notes

OneNote

OneNote helps you organize content just like you would in a physical notebook—in the hierarchy of notebooks, section groups, sections, and pages. This provides you with simple and broad cabinets to save your notes in. Pages in a section are displayed in a list on the right-side panel, which helps you keep track of topics that you’ve created. OneNote also helps you organize content within your page by creating sub-paragraphs. You can create multiple paragraphs under the main one and collapse/display them as needed.
Evernote vs OneNote Which is best for your business 2

Evernote

Evernote organizes notes in a linear fashion, displaying all the existing notebooks on the far-left side of the screen. While scrolling through these notebooks, you can see the list of notes in each and image clippings from those notes. As the name suggests, the “All notes” section displays the entire collection of notes taken up to this point, irrespective of the notebooks they are in. Evernote provides a Tags options under the listed notebooks where you can search for notes according to their tags.
Evernote vs OneNote Which is best for your business 4

Clipping content from the web

OneNote

OneNote has a clipper add-in that has very basic functionality and can only be used from a Microsoft account. Using this clipper, you can grab a screenshot of a webpage or other content. For example, you can choose to capture an article from a webpage, excluding the advertisements, as well as its bookmark.
The clipping gets embedded as an image. OneNote allows you to include this clipping only inside an existing notebook. If there are any multimedia components or links on the clipping, you will not be able to interact with them. OneNote also doesn’t allow you to copy a saved clipping to other applications, such as Microsoft Word.

Evernote

With Evernote, you can do all this but also choose to exclude the original format of the article and copy just the text and images from it. You can create a new notebook to add this clipped information and use Evernote’s mark-up tools to include comments or questions. You can also play around with the content from the clipped page by editing or changing its appearance, such as adding text to it, highlighting it, and even drawing directly on it. Unlike OneNote, Evernote lets you click the links of the clipped page. You can also view videos embedded in clipped content by clicking them and visiting the original webpage from where the content was clipped.

Device support

Both OneNote and Evernote can be used across devices, but the overall look and feel may vary from one device to another.

OneNote

As part of the Microsoft Office suite, OneNote works best on Windows, where you get to enjoy its entire range of note-creation and formatting options. You may find a few of these features missing in the web, iPad, and Mac versions of OneNote. Though the Mac version of OneNote has all the formatting features just like Windows, it doesn’t provide you with as many Insert features. The iPad version also has its limitations, though it provides the extra functionality of taking a picture with your device’s camera and inserting it into your notes. The iPhone and Android versions are also simplified and omit some features. However, they allow you to scroll through notes easily and take quick notes on the go.

Evernote

Out of all the different devices, Evernote also seems to look and work the best on Windows. It’s easier to organize your notes on Windows, as existing notebooks are displayed vertically. This task becomes a little tricky while using an iPad or Mac. If you use the Android or iPhone version, Evernote displays notes in rectangular boxes with the note title and image displayed on it. While using the web version, you need to click the Notebook icon to see the list of existing notebooks. You can then click on a notebook to see the notes in it.

Using third-party apps

When it comes to using third party apps to import content, both OneNote and Evernote work well.

OneNote

Applications such as OnetasticGenius ScanIFTTT, and Zapier help you to easily bring information to OneNote, where you can edit and organize it according to your needs. In case you want to export your notes to other apps, OneNote allows you to do so easily with Microsoft Office products, especially Word. You can also export your notes to a spreadsheet or PDF documents.

Evernote

Evernote is very versatile in this regard, as it supports many apps across different platforms and devices. For example, if you need to convert recorded audio notes to text on Evernote, you can use the Dragon Anywhere app. Evernote also supports other useful apps like TaskClone and Cloudmagic. But if you export your notes to other apps, Evernote doesn’t provide you with as many options as OneNote does.

Multi-Factor Authentication: Better Protect Your Office 365 Data


Nowadays, nearly every modern organization is moving their business to the cloud. Protecting your organization’s users and their accounts from being compromised is easy when you have an on-premises setup like Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory. But what if you’re using Office 365? Well, you’re still in luck. In this article, we’ll take a comprehensive look at how Office 365 multi-factor authentication helps protect your data.

What is multi-factor authentication?

Multi-factor authentication is a simple way of protecting user profiles by requiring users to provide more than just their username and password when attempting to log in.
In Office 365, multi-factor authentication adds a second layer of protection that requires users to provide proof of their identity before they are granted access to a profile.
For example, if someone managed to crack or steal your password but doesn’t have the device you associated with your profile, they won’t be allowed to log in. So that second factor—the mobile or office phone—will protect your account from unauthorized logins.

Licensing

The best part is that multi-factor authentication is free with an Office 365 subscription. Though Office 365 multi-factor authentication is part of Azure, you don’t need any additional license to use it for your Office 365 tenant. You only need an Azure AD Premium license in case you want to use advanced features of Azure multi-factor authentication.

How multi-factor authentication works in Office 365

Microsoft offers three different ways you can use multi-factor authentication to prove your identity from your phone:
  1. Use the Microsoft Authenticator app. This app provides you with a one-time password (OTP) or a push notification. You can either use that device as a software token that provides OTP or you can use it as a push notification hub that will get notifications from the central multi-factor authentication service.
  2. Receive a phone call on your registered number. If you select this option, you’ll receive a call on either your mobile or landline phone and will be asked to press the pound sign (#) to confirm your identity.
  3. Receive a text message at your registered number. You’ll receive an OTP through a text message sent to your mobile. You then simply enter the OTP on the screen where you’re trying to log in.
You can either use one of these options or configure multiple options for multi-factor authentication.
Below are the options that an Office 365 global admin sees when enabling multi-factor authentication for Office 365 users in their organization:
How multi-factor authentication works in Office 365 1
When users complete their multi-factor authentication registration, they can also choose default and secondary options from the ones enabled by their global admin. Users will see the following screen:
How multi-factor authentication works in Office 365 2

How to set up multi-factor authentication in Office 365

It’s important to note that you need to be a global administrator to enable multi-factor authentication in Office 365. Once you’re signed in, simply follow these steps:
  1. Go to https://portal.office.com and visit the Admin Center (https://portal.office.com/adminportal/home)
  2. On the left navigation pane, expand Users and click Active Users.
  3. In the Active Users window, click the dropdown arrow next to More and select Setup Azure multi-factor auth.
  4. Select the user account(s) on which you want to enable multi-factor authentication. You can select all users by clicking on the checkbox next to Display Name at the top of the page.
    How to set up multi-factor authentication in Office 365 1
  5. You should be able to see the multi-factor authentication status for a user in the column titled Multi-Factor Auth Status.
  6. After selecting the required users, click on Enable.
    How to set up multi-factor authentication in Office 365 2
  7. You can also enforce multi-factor authentication on a user account in Office 365 even if they have not completed registration or chosen their second verification method
    How to set up multi-factor authentication in Office 365 3
  8. There are three different states of multi-factor authentication that can be applied to user accounts:
         a. Disabled
This is the default state for a new user who has not been activated for multi-factor authentication by an Office 365 administrator.
         b. Enabled
The user has been enabled for multi-factor authentication by the administrator but has not completed the registration process. They will be prompted to complete the process the next time               they sign in.
         c. Enforced
The users have completed registration and are using multi-factor authentication.

Signing in with multi-factor authentication

  1. Users will go to their Office 365 portal (https://portal.office.com) and enter their username, then click Next.Signing in with multi-factor authentication 1
  2. The user will enter their password and click Sign in.Signing in with multi-factor authentication 2
  3. On this page, the user will be prompted to register for multi-factor authentication and set up two-factor or additional verification in Office 365.Signing in with multi-factor authentication 3
  4. The user will be taken to the Additional security verification page, where they’ll choose their preferred contact method.Signing in with multi-factor authentication 4Signing in with multi-factor authentication 5
  5. After completing registration, the user will be taken to the app password section of the Additional security verificationpage. From here, they can copy the app password that would be required to sign in to non-browser-based apps (rich clients) like Skype for Business. (This page will appear only if an administrator has enabled the creation of app passwords.)
    Signing in with multi-factor authentication 6
  6. After clicking Done, the user will be successfully signed in to their Office 365 portal.

App passwords

App passwords are used by older client applications, specifically rich client applications, that don’t rely on browsers and thus cannot redirect you when performing multi-factor authentication. In those cases, users create an app password from their Office 365 portal and use that to sign in to those applications.
The app password is a 16-character password that is randomly generated by Office 365. You can view this password only once—when you initially create it.

Manually creating an app password from the Office 365 portal

  1. Sign in to your Office 365 portal. In the top right, click on the Settings icon and select Office 365 under Your app settings.Multi-factor authentication Manually creating an app password from the Office 365 portal 1
  2. On the Settings page, select Security & privacy.Multi-factor authentication Manually creating an app password from the Office 365 portal 2
  3. Under the Additional security verification option, click on Add or change your security verification settings.Multi-factor authentication Manually creating an app password from the Office 365 portal 3
  4. On the Security & privacy page, select Create and manage app passwords.Multi-factor authentication manually creating an app password from the Office 365 portal 4
  5. On the next window, select App Passwords. You can either create a new app password or delete an existing app password on this page. However, you can neither change an existing app password nor view the password once it has been created. You can only view the app password once, at the time of creating it.Multi-factor authentcation Manually creating an app password from the Office 365 portal 5

Changing your preferred device or multi-factor authentication option

Steps 1–4 will be the same as above. Your next steps will be as follows:
  1. Select the Update your phone numbers used for account security option.
    Changing your preferred device or multi-factor authentication option 1
  2. On the Additional security verification page, you can change your phone number as well as the default method of authentication. You can also configure the Authenticator app from this      window.Changing your preferred device or multi-factor authentication option 2
Here’s the list of available options to choose from:
Changing your preferred device or multi-factor authentication option 3

Configuring the Authenticator app

  1. On the Additional security verification page, check the box for Authenticator app and click Configure.
    Multi-factor authentication Configuring the Authenticator app 1
  2. Download the Microsoft Authenticator app on your smart phone. In the app, choose Add an account and select Work or School account. Then, scan the image provided on the current window (see below) with your smart phone. When you’re finished, click Next.
    Multi-factor authentication Configuring the Authenticator app 2
    Multi-factor authentication Configuring the Authenticator app 3
  3. Once the app is configured, click Save. That’s it! You’re all set to use the Authenticator app for push notifications or OTP.
    Multi-factor authentication Configuring the Authenticator app 4
    Multi-factor authentication Configuring the Authenticator app 5

Logging in with multi-factor authentication enabled

  1. The user will visit the Office 365 portal (https://portal.office.com), enter their email, and click Next.
    Logging in with multi-factor authentication enabled 1
  2. The user will enter their password and click Sign in.
    Logging in with multi-factor authentication enabled 2
  3. The user will be prompted to complete the second factor for authentication.
    Logging in with multi-factor authentication enabled 3Logging in with multi-factor authentication enabled 4Logging in with multi-factor authentication enabled 5Logging in with multi-factor authentication enabled 6
  4. After the user completes this step, they will be allowed to sign in to Office 365 or any of its services.
    Logging in with multi-factor authentication enabled 7
As you can see, multi-factor authentication is a simple but powerful way of protecting your user accounts in case their credentials are stolen. And setting it up is so easy that there’s no reason not to!