3 Things to Know about Windows 10

Windows 10 is coming and is shaping up to be one of Microsoft’s best operating systems in a while. Here are three things to know if your business is considering Windows 10:

You may be eligible for a free upgrade

As discussed in this PC World article, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 users will be eligible to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. Microsoft hasn’t confirmed whether this version of Windows will require a subscription or not, but your first year will be free at the very least. 


After the Windows 8 debacle, Microsoft is looking to make its user-experience better than ever. Cortana, Microsoft’s “Siri” or “Google Now,” will play an important role in this experience.  

According to a recent Tech Times article, Windows 10 will include voice controls:

“Cortana will be placed on the desktop next to the Star button and can be summoned by saying: “Hey Cortana.” Moreover, users will have the option to edit stuff that the assistant knows about a user so that it can improve the service.”


And the last major thing to know is that Windows is scrapping its old browser, Internet Explorer. It’s replacing it with Spartan, which will challenge Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. 

An interesting feature of Spartan is that users will be able to draw and comment on web pages as they like. Here’s how The Next Web describes the feature: 

“Spartan is based on Microsoft’s Trident rendering engine, which is also found in Internet Explorer. The browser allows you to collaborate with others by marking up with drawing on the page directly. You’ll also be able to click anywhere on the page and comment.”

So now the big question is if your business should upgrade to Windows 10. If you’re still unsure, then you can always reach out to us and we’ll give you more information about Microsoft’s new operating system. 

To talk more about Windows 10, or anything else, please contact us. Thanks. 

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Executives are Increasingly Looking to Cloud Computing for More Company Efficiency

Cloud computing has been around close to a decade now, yet it’s surprising so many companies have yet to use this tech solution. The reason they haven’t is still due to media misinformation (related to security), in addition to lack of knowledge about how the cloud has evolved. Fortunately, things are changing with executives now considering the cloud more than ever.

ZDnet recently reported that executives are finally considering the cloud because the economy is improving along with awareness of what the cloud offers. Information like our own blogs consistently try to impart this knowledge while reminding how the cloud is really the best data storage solution available.

But what are executives really looking for in the cloud according to the above report?

Productivity and Employee Satisfaction

The main goal of every executive is to create more productivity in the office, and the cloud provides it in spades. That’s because everything that makes your business run is capable of being in the cloud to save buying expensive hardware or keeping up with regular updates. Plus, the cloud is an outstanding method of disaster recovery during a natural or man-made event. Because all your data gets stored in the cloud server, it’s easily accessible wherever you have an Internet connection.

However, executives are also looking at the cloud as a method toward employee satisfaction. Having software and other applications accessible through the cloud puts less pressure on your staff to update or maintain everything. Plus, the cloud allows for mobility thanks to accessing of data (and phone services) anywhere Internet is available.

It’s no wonder executives have finally gone for the cloud this year, with growth expected in the months and years to come.

We provide an excellent cloud solution here at Hawk IT Services that’s guaranteed to bring the highest level of productivity and employee satisfaction to your company this year.

Contact us and we’ll tell you more about our cloud services, plus our comprehensive IT management services to keep things running efficiently at all times.

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Two Office 365 Programs That Improve Collaboration and Business Productivity

Office 365 revealed the direction Microsoft is headed in. It wasn’t a simple update that just changed the layouts in Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel; it introduced new programs that businesses can take advantage of. 

There’s a lot to talk about concerning Office 365, but for now we’d just like to focus on two essential programs:

Sharepoint Online

Sharepoint Online is Microsoft’s attempt at making the cloud a user-friendly experience. And we have to admit that the program is not just functional, but extremely effective.

Sharepoint Online redefines the term collaboration. By using the program, employees will be able to work together on projects even when they’re in different cities or states.  

A recent CMS Wire article demonstrates how Office 365 can even improve your project management:

“We’ve all worked on projects where we’ve wanted to add or share ancillary files, videos, images, with the team but didn’t because it wasn’t a “must do,” it took time or whatever. Boards take that hassle away. You simply share the URL of a board with your team, or send link directly from the board, which remains fresh as your team works on and updates documents over time.”

Microsoft Lync

But Sharepoint Online wasn’t the only new program that improved collaboration. Microsoft Lync is a new program that businesses can use and integrate with their VoIP phones. As a result, employees will find it easier than ever to switch to the new phone system. 

You can use Microsoft Lync for both internal and external communication. A recent Tech Target article explains how businesses can do the latter:

“There are various ways to configure Microsoft Lync Server, now Skype for Business, to allow internal Lync users to communicate with someone outside of the company.  In the Lync Server architecture, it is the Edge Server role that enables all remote connectivity scenarios.”

In terms of business productivity and collaboration, Office 365 was a grand slam. Any company can use it to improve their communication and business operations. 

To talk more about Office 365, or anything else, please contact us. Thanks. 

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Restaurant Point Of Sale Systems

Restaurant point of sale systems were always right on the front burner of business system development, even from the beginning of the personal computer age. The hospitality and restaurant industries really needed automated systems that

  • minimized the demands on wait staff
  • while accurately passing orders to cooks,
  • enabling customers to conveniently and quietly pay their checks and add their tips,
  • use their credit cards,
  • while, behind the scenes, handling all the data base business functions like inventory control and accounting,
  • made sure everyone got appropriately paid,
  • and integrated everything with the front office so senior management always knew what’s going on. 

If these things could be done at table, so much the better.

Early electronic cash registers were pre-windows PC computers disguised to look like regular cash registers, because operating staff were not used to using computers.

In 1973, IBM introduced the IBM3650 which was really a small main frame computer that would serve up to 128 point of sale registers connected to it in a local area network. The first company to use these systems was McDonald’s Restaurants. Staff used numbered menus for order-taking. The screen displayed the entire order. When the “grill” button was pressed, the order was sent for preparation and other orders could proceed. The computer totaled bills and taxes for the customer after the transaction, printed receipts and saved accounting information. The system had built-in accounting checks and duplicated data in triplicate for security. 

The development of the first digital POS systems corresponded to the introduction of the first magnetic stripe credit cards, which began appearing in the early 1970s. The union of magnetic card readers and POS computers marked the beginning of the modern era of POS systems.

The first graphical interface POS systems ran on Atari 16 bit systems in 1986 using a touch screen interface. These had some limited success, installed on several restaurants in the US and Canada. The first POS software to run on Microsoft Windows systems appeared in 1992. POS system development proceeded with the improvements in network technology and portable digital devices.

Modern cloud-based POS systems run on computers and portable devices including IOS and Android tablets and phones, which can be equipped with card reading devices for at-table POS service. These system often include back up on local servers to assure operation during periods of lost wi-fi service. The typical restaurant POS software system can create and print guest checks, distribute orders to the kitchen, accept credit card or cash payments with necessary accounting. The systems can also provide ongoing inventory and other accounting management functions.

Hawk IT Services is an IT services company in Australia with a special interest in POS systems. For more information, contact us.

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Managed IT Services Reveals Three Free Applications for the New Year

You can’t open a web page without bumping into one ad or another for software. Some of these applications contain features that you can use but not at the exorbitant costs they require. Fortunately, free software can also be helpful. Here are three that can improve your computing for the New Year.

  • Speccy reveals statistics about your machine, which you can tell you how your system is operating or which you can forward to tech support for repairs or fine tuning. The data it shows include your processor brand and model, hard drive size, memory size (RAM), operating system, storage devices, attached hardware, network connections, and operating temperatures.

  • SUPERAntiSpyware detects and removes Trojans, worms, keyloggers, spyware, and all kinds of malware that slows down your system and steals your information. It’s an excellent supplement to your virus checker and security applications because it can catch problems that they don’t. The paid version includes real-time blocking, automatic updates, and email notifications.

  • Open Office offers many of the functions in paid-for business suites, such as Microsoft Office, but it’s free and regularly updated. You receive applications for word processing, spreadsheets, drawing, databases, and presentations. Each program contains numerous options for customizing documents, interacts seamlessly with every other in the suite, and can read or save to several formats, including the Microsoft standards.

These applications come from reliable sources, so you don’t have to worry about inadvertently downloading unpleasant surprises. If you want more information about these applications, or require managed IT services, please contact us.

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Effective Conferencing with Voice Over IP

Businesses with multiple departments love to use Voice Over IP for its conferencing feature. A VoIP system allows companies to host conferences whether they’re interactive or styled like a lecture. Moreover, companies can use this feature for internal communication – holding meetings with employees – and for external communication – speaking with business partners and clients. 

What makes conferencing so special with VoIP is that it gives the master party control over the conversation. Managers can invite specific employees, mute parties, and ask for participation with the click of a button. 

A recent Tech Republic article talks about the benefits of conferencing with VoIP. The article shows how a VoIP system gives managers control over a meeting:

“Most people know about conferencing with VoIP services, but not everyone takes advantage of all the features that might come with it. Often, you can set up a conference floor monitor. This allows you to manage invitations, “hand-raises,” muting individuals, etc. Online conferences can get messy and confusing if not managed correctly, so this is a great tool to learn how to use.”

One problem with conferencing with VoIP is that people tend to act different online or on the phone from when they do in-person. For that reason, online conferences can be difficult to manage. 

A VoIP system takes care of this problem by giving managers control over their meetings. You don’t have to worry about people talking out of turn or inappropriately, since you can simply mute them whenever you’d like. 

Many businesses host conferences online and over the phone to reduce travel expenses. But if it’s just a regular phone call, then managers won’t have control over the meeting as they normally would. With the features of VoIP phones, however, managers can take control over conferences and hold efficient meetings. 

To talk more about Voice over IP, or anything else, please contact us. Thanks. 

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The Functions of Retail Point of Sale Systems

Retail Point of Sale (POS) can’t be compared with traditional cash registers. While POS systems can do everything that cash registers can, they’re also capable of more sophisticated functions. 

The reason why POS systems include more features has to do with their technology. POS systems are run off of personal computers, which can run several applications at the same time. 

A recent Tech Target article talks about the differences between POS systems and cash registers. According to the article, there have been significant advancements made in the past few years that differentiate the two systems:  

“Much more complex than the cash registers of even just a few years ago, the POS system can include the ability to record and track customer orders, process credit and debit cards, connect to other systems in a network, and manage inventory. Generally, a POS terminal has as its core a personal computer, which is provided with application-specific programs and I/O devices for the particular environment in which it will serve.”

As far as businesses go, the main benefit of POS systems is that they have a positive return on investment. When businesses invest in POS, they receive many benefits in proportion to the price they pay. 

This is particularly true in retail. An important function of retail POS is that it keeps track of inventory. When customers are coming in and out throughout the day and there are hundreds of orders being made, this feature becomes invaluable. 

POS has become a staple of many retail businesses’ strategies. It has a high ROI which encourages companies to invest in a system sooner rather than later. With a POS system, businesses don’t have to worry about managing inventory, processing credit cards, or tracking orders.

To talk more about Point of Sale systems, or anything else, please contact us. Thanks. 

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Voice Over IP and QoS

Voice Over IP is the perfect cost-effective alternative to landline phones, provided that a few conditions exist. These conditions largely depend on the VoIP and Internet service providers you choose. 

Quality of Service (QoS) is a crucial aspect of VoIP. It determines whether your call quality will be better or worse than what you’ve experienced with your landline phone.

But first, let’s define what exactly QoS is. This Tech Target article provides a good and simple definition: 

“On the Internet and in other networks, QoS (Quality of Service) is the idea that transmission rates, error rates, and other characteristics can be measured, improved, and, to some extent, guaranteed in advance.”

As you can imagine, some service providers focus more on QoS than others. If your service provider doesn’t mention QoS at all, then that’s not a good sign. If they dodge the question when you ask about it, then it’s time to look for another service provider.

In terms of VoIP, nothing is a better indicator than QoS. If you want to rely on VoIP as a communications solution, then you have to be sure that the QoS is up-to-par.

A recent Tech Advisory article talks about the importance of QoS. According to the article, you should settle for nothing less than a service provider that guarantees a good QoS. 

“Good providers will be able to guarantee a QoS that is comparable, or even better, than traditional networks. This is especially important for businesses who are looking to switch to a full VoIP solution. What a provider should do is run a few tests on your network and then give you a quality assurance. If it is too low, then look for another provider.”

We make sure our clients know exactly what they’re getting when they sign up for VoIP. We understand the importance of QoS and the affect it will have on your business. 

To talk more about VoIP, or anything else, please contact us. Thanks. 

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The Most Important Question to Ask a Cloud Computing Service Provider

It’s completely normal and expected for business owners to have tons of questions regarding cloud computing. Here are some of the most popular ones we’ve heard thus far:

  • What will happen to my data after the transition?
  • What if I don’t like cloud computing?
  • How much will I have to pay each month?
  • Will my data be protected from cyber criminals?

Although business owners are right to ask these questions, there’s one that’s much more important. More than anything, you should ask cloud computing service providers why you should choose them, rather than their competitors. 

It’s not easy deciding on a service provider. If you choose the wrong one, your data may be at risk because of a lack of security. But if you choose one that fits your needs, you’ll enjoy all of the benefits of cloud computing.

A recent Cloud Tweaks article talks about the role of the cloud computing service provider. According to the article, it’s one of the most important factors in the decision: 

“When it comes to cloud computing, the service provider is one of the most important elements. Choose the wrong provider, and it could cost the company thousands of dollars in security-related costs, lost or compromised data, too much down time, and other headaches. The way to avoid problems is to know what the provider can do for your company – and what it cannot do – before signing any formal agreements.”

Rather than making hundreds of empty promises, we promise businesses one thing: transparency. If you ask us a question, we’ll give you an honest answer. 

If you’d like to know more about our data security center or how we support businesses during their transition to the cloud, all you have to do is ask. We’re more than happy to talk about our business practices. 

To talk more about cloud computing, or anything else, please contact us. Thanks. 

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How Hassle Free IT Applies to Everyday Scenarios

We think all businesses should know the advantages of having hassle free IT. If you’d like to know how hassle free IT applies to everyday business  operations, then consider the scenarios below:

Scenario 1: Your computers have been acting slow lately but you don’t know why. It’s finally at the point where the slow performance is disrupting employee productivity. 

Scenario 2: You’ve just heard about a huge winter storm approaching your town. You can expect lots of snowfall and maybe a power outage.

Scenario 3: You want to buy a new phone but you’re not sure where to start. There are too many models and plans for you to narrow down the best choice.

Scenario 4: You’re not exactly sure what you did, but you clearly pressed the wrong button on your computer. Now you can’t continue your work until things are back to the way they were. 

There are a couple of things these scenarios have in common. One is that they’re all fairly normal disturbances that can happen to any business. None of these scenarios are unheard of, but they can set a business back a day or two. 

The other thing they have in common is that they all have the same solution, provided that a business has hassle free IT. All you need to do is call your managed IT service provider and tell them what’s wrong. They can walk you through troubleshooting over the phone if it’s a simple problem. If it’s a bit more serious, they’ll send on-site support to fix whatever’s wrong.

The scenarios above each needed a specific solution, such as an anti-virus firewall, disaster recovery planning, IT consulting, and technical support. All of these services are included with managed IT services. As a business owner, all you need to do is get in touch with your service provider and they’ll take care of the rest. 

To talk more about this, or anything else, please contact us. Thanks. 

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