Managed Services First Bootstrap Website

Managed Services77% of mobile searches are in a location where a PC is available, according to the Google 2013 Mobile Search Study. Amazingly, most of the technology industry (including Apple) has not embraced this overwhelming mobile search trend. So we decided to share some insights into managed services first bootstrap website.

Bootstrap is a sleek, intuitive, and powerful mobile first front-end framework for faster and easier web development. While Matrixforce is not a web design firm, it’s obvious that you are just frustrating your largest audience of mobile and tablet users by forcing them to scroll and zoom legacy websites. In 2014, not having a mobile responsive website gives the impression that your organization is out of touch – especially if you’re in the technology sector.

The following list provides specifics on the unique user experience at Matrixforce:

  • Mobile first: The display automatically adjusts to fit the screen size of smart phones, tablets, or desktops. Users don’t have to pan or zoom parts of a whole page on smaller devices.
  • No app required: There is no separate mobile site or app in Apple iTunes, Google Play, or Windows Marketplace.
  • Single source: Bootstrap eliminates unnecessary code for mobile sites or apps and the possibility of duplicate content to hinder search results.
  • Clean URLs: Our web pages have no .html, .php, or other extensions. The page names are short and easy to understand, with an obvious boost for search.
  • Sticky header: The logo and menu are always at the top of the screen. You never have to scroll to find menu options to move to another page.
  • Different color: Nearly every competitor has a blue or black website. Dark maroon definitely makes us stand out. A gradient gives some flare and character versus the mundane flat look.
  • Logo is home: Home menu options are redundant, extra clutter, and no longer relevant for modern websites.
  • Touch menus: Traditional pulldown menus don’t work on smartphones or tablets. Bootstrap menus work on any screen size and the size is large for easy menu selection on tablets or touchscreens.
  • Large font: On conventional monitors, the font is large with easily readable typography and gray contrast that is easier on the eyes. For smaller displays, the font adjusts accordingly.
  • Images adjust: Images automatically resize to fit the device display.
  • Grid structure: The row and column format of each page fluidly adapts for smartphones and mini-tablets.
  • Content rich: The competition generally has a couple dozen pages amidst plenty of bluster. We have over 200 pages and growing of customer focused benefits, features, cost comparisons, frequent questions, requirements, knowledgebase articles, white papers, and videos.
  • Simple footer: Since the top menu is always available, duplicate navigation links are no longer necessary in the footer. The footer is really only supposed to be legal and contact information. Putting copious amounts of random information in the footer and inviting your audience to drift off to social media on every page was never a good idea.

As always, we’d like to thank our customers for the opportunity to provide insight, streamline technology, and improve business operations. For the competition and the rest of the technology sector, you’re going to have to get with the times.



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CRM Next Release Spring 2014

Dynamics CRM Online LogoThe Spring 2014 update for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online is nearly here with most customers automatically upgraded with no downtime by the end of May. The new capabilities will help you put your customer at the center, create deeper customers connections, and continue to evolve your customer relationship management.

Here is a short list of things you need to know:

  1. Enable using Product Updates. The Product Updates feature allows the CRM Online Administrator to enable these new features in the organization when the time is right for you.
  2. No roll back. Once you choose to install the spring product updates, you cannot roll back.
  3. Sandbox testing. After the update, new functionality and customizations can be tested in a “sandbox” instance isolated from your production environment.
  4. Powerful customer service. Top new features include: e-mail to case functionality, customer case entry self-service, and social listening for brands and products. See the CRM Customer Center for more information.
  5. How to install. Sign-in to CRM Online and go to Settings > Administration. Select Install Product Updates in the lower left corner.

Matrixforce anticipates enabling and testing these new features with select customers in June. General deployment to all customers is anticipated by September. Look for further announcements coming soon.

Microsoft Patches IE in 3 Days While Heart Bleed Persists

Security ResponseAt approximately 10am PDT on 5/1/2014, Microsoft released an out-of-band update for the Internet Explorer/Adobe Flash vulnerability published in Security Advisory 2963983:

  • Microsoft customers with automatic updates or Intune will not need to take any action, as the patch will be automatically downloaded and installed.
  • Windows XP customers will also receive the update despite the fact the 14-year-old technology is no longer supported by Microsoft.
  • Join the bulletin webcast for this update at 11am PDT, 5/2/2014.
  • See the Microsoft Security Response post by Dustin Childs for more information.
  • Microsoft released this patch just 3 business days from discovery, while the Heart Bleed vulnerability persists in over 20,000 of the top 2 million Linux/Unix websites after nearly 30 days.

On April 28, 2014, Matrixforce posted Facts of Internet Explorer Vulnerability 2014. Contrary to popular misconceptions, the Secunia Browser Vulnerability Report shows Open Source browsers like Firefox and Chrome have over twice the vulnerabilities of Internet Explorer. The Department of Homeland Security couldn’t issue an advisory against using Linux/Unix websites at risk with Heart Bleed, because it was difficult for users to determine the platform and there are dozens of manufacturers. Unfortunately, unlike Microsoft there is no automatic update for Linux/Unix. If a similar Adobe Flash vulnerability emerges for those platforms, then it would likely take much longer to eliminate as evidenced by Heart Bleed bug still persisting.

Facts of Internet Explorer Vulnerability 2014

Internet Explorer LogoFollowing the recent Heart Bleed exploit, Open Source pundits have been scrambling and the press has capitalized on a slow news cycle to bash Microsoft. Here are the actual facts:

  1. On April 27, 2014, ZDNet published Microsoft discloses zero day in all versions of Internet Explorer. Debate raged in the comments about which platforms were more secure.
  2. The vulnerability is really from Adobe Flash. Windows systems without Adobe Flash installed are not vulnerable.
  3. Later on the same Sunday, Gizmodo published New Vulnerability Found in Every Single Version of Internet Explorer. The article incorrectly stated that Internet Explorer is only 26% of the browser market and Windows XP customers would be forced to pay exorbitant support. Out of touch comments exploded based upon these erroneous details.
  4. Secunia Browser Vulnerability Report for 2013 shows Internet Explorer with leading market share on Windows OS devices, less than half the vulnerabilities of the least secure browsers of Firefox and Chrome, and lowest percentage of unpatched systems of any manufacturer due to automatic Microsoft Updates.
  5. Search Engine marketers have recommended not using Adobe Flash for over 5 years, as it provides little information to be indexed. Industry sites like SEOWorks still advise against SEO & Flash Web Design. XP or any Windows user may simply uninstall Adobe Flash to avoid this vulnerability with little browsing impact.
  6. The last Internet Explorer vulnerability was reported October 9, 2013. IBM just discovered multiple Firefox vulnerabilities March 26, 2014. The latest Chrome vulnerability was published April 10, 2014.


Heartbleed Reality

HeartbleedLet’s clear the confusion as our phone lines and inboxes are being flooded with questions – and as usual most public information is either just plain wrong or greatly exaggerated by the press:

  1. Heartbleed is a critical vulnerability for open source platforms running Linux/Unix and the OpenSSL service. Despite the recent hysteria, this vulnerability is nearly two years old.
  2. Microsoft Windows, Office 365, and Azure use schannel technology and are not impacted by Heartbleed.
  3. You should change your password for Open Source services such as Gmail, Twitter, or Facebook.
  4. If you use the same password for everything, stop doing that and change your passwords for everything. You should have different passwords for work, home, financial, and social services.
  5. Administrators running OpenSSL should apply patches, reset root passwords, and re-issue certificates.

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Which Office 365 Plan is Right for Me?

Office 365 LogoThere are over 4 dozen Office 365 subscription plans, for virtually every need and price point from a-la-carte single service starting at $2 per user per month up to the currently highest priced bundle of $22 per user per month.

So which plan should you choose for your business? Microsoft has an Office 365 Help Me Choose Tool that asks a series of questions and makes a recommendation. The problem is you don’t really get an understanding of any limitations or how the different plans compare.

Generally, you want to avoid Small Business (25 user limit) and Midsized Business Plans (300 user limit).  The reason why is because every user must be on the same plan. Also, if you outgrow the user limits, you must backup all of your data and start a new plan! All other plans allow a mix and match of plan to user needs, with the ability to freely change a user license without affecting any data.

The most popular Office 365 plans are Office 365 E1 ($8/user/month) and Office 365 E3 ($20/user/month). The reason why is because of the various features and cost-effective price point. Plus, as described above, there are no limitations on choice or future pain points for negligible cost difference versus other plans.

  • Office 365 E1: 50GB mailbox and unlimited archive, 25GB OneDrive per user, 10GB of organization file storage plus 500MB per user free, online meetings and screen sharing, enterprise social networking, and Office Web Apps.
  • Office 365 E3: Includes everything above, plus Office 365 Pro Plus installed on up to 5 devices per user.

Microsoft has demonstrated a commitment to add approximately 3 dozen updates to Office 365 annually, with the most notable of recent free e-mail encryption and document signing. If you stick to the two main choices above, you can augment with Kiosk or other finite plans. Notice, that you get much more for your $8 with E1 rather than Exchange Plan 2. Also, do the math as there is no cheaper way to buy Office alone on-going with 5 copies per user with E3.

Starting with an Office 365 E3 free trial for 30 days let’s you experience all features and then select the different plans you need per user (except obviously Small Business or Midsized Business as explained above).

For nonprofit customers, you should use the new Office 365 E3 nonprofit trial link for $4.50 per user per month.

Oklahoma Represented in Microsoft 2014 Champions Club

Cloud PowerJust 90 Microsoft Partners out of 640,000 worldwide were invited to the Microsoft SMB Champions Club 2014 in Redmond, Washington on February 12-13. Matrixforce is proud to represent Oklahoma among these elite Tier 1 and 2 cloud partners, that implement 2,000 or more new Microsoft Online Services subscribers per year.

Partner attendees will be provided advanced notice and exclusive training under Non-Disclosure Agreement on the Microsoft mobile-first, cloud-first strategy. Further, structured break-out sessions are tailored per partner focus to provide unparalleled skills for customers.

This summit comes at a critical time when:

  • Satya Nadella takes the helm of Microsoft
  • Windows Azure streams the Winter Olympics
  • Office 365 is preferred 3 to 1 by business customers
  • Surface gains traction with customers

Following this leading-edge training, Matrixforce will begin providing breakthrough services to clients for better productivity in cloud and hybrid virtualization environments.