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Windows

Category: Windows

Pros and Cons of Using The Outlook Web Application (OWA)

As an IT professional, you will generally receive a torrent of emails, including tickets and complaints from end-users about things not working, as well as frequent updates about your systems and other business-related news. Everyone’s life is impacted by email on a daily basis. We need it for a plethora of personal chores, as well as in the company for customer statements and other client correspondence.

If you use Exchange on-premises, you will either use Microsoft Outlook or Outlook on the Web, a web-based application. Each person has a preference, and we will discuss both, as well as some of the advantages and disadvantages of Outlook web for better understanding.

Pros

Speed

We’ve all been victims of Outlook’s “Not Responding” feature on Windows, even on a powerful desktop PC. Outlook in a browser is really quick; I have never seen it freeze in my browser.

Poll a Meeting

When you make a new calendar invite, instead of selecting a time, you may select many choices by examining the availability of everyone in the to and cc lines. It sends emails to recipients asking them to vote on which slot works best for them. This is fantastic for both internal and external meetings! Internally, it is generally preferable to choose a time that is accessible because individuals may prefer morning vs. afternoon, for example.

Search Option

There is a built-in People Search that is far superior to the Outlook address book. This hidden gem leverages the Microsoft Graph to offer suggestions about who you should call. It also provides information on individuals you have scheduled meetings with.

Cons

Interface and Design

The outlook may be viewed via a desktop browser as well as Android and iOS applications. Outlook’s UI has more features, such as the top bar or Ribbon, which provides various perspectives.

Mail, Contacts, Tasks, Calendars, and Notes are all available. If you are unfamiliar with Outlook and want to use it only as a client email, the numerous functions may appear complicated and superfluous. The outlook may be confusing to new users.

Complex Integration

Microsoft Outlook is a proprietary piece of software. As a result, integration with other apps, such as Google Calendar is limited. Furthermore, the web-based version of Microsoft Outlook provides additional capabilities in the Internet Explorer browser. It does not support a packed version of other popular Internet browsers such as Mozilla Firefox.

Cost

Microsoft Outlook is a component of the Microsoft Office software suite. The bundle cost several hundred dollars, even though several free competitors give the same features and capabilities, such as Mozilla’s Thunderbird. Furthermore, web-based email applications, such as Gmail, provide free email services.

Best Client Email for Business

The finest email applications are no longer simply for sending and handling emails but also for connecting with other software and apps. There are several email providers on the market, so we’ll start with the top client email before moving to other alternatives, including email web applications.

eM Client

eM Client has been around for over a decade, and throughout that time, it has grown into the greatest alternative client email for Windows.

It has a plethora of functions, such as a calendar, contacts, and chat. All major email providers, including Gmail, Yahoo, iCloud, and Outlook.com, are supported. The most recent version also includes PGP encryption, live backup, rudimentary picture editing capabilities, and Gmail auto-replies.

There is a free tier, but you must upgrade to the Pro version for business usage, which also includes VIP assistance and unlimited accounts (the free product is limited to two email accounts). There is a one-time licensing cost for the Pro version.

Mailbird

Mailbird is a client email that claims to “save time managing many accounts” and make the email “simple and attractive.” It is available in two versions: personal and business. It is obvious that Mailbird Business provides a plethora of free themes to make email a more pleasurable and customized experience.

Inky

Inky is a secure client email that combines AI and machine learning techniques to stop phishing attacks that might otherwise get through.

This tool employs an ‘Inky Phish Fence,’ which analyzes internal and external emails to detect phishing efforts. The unique machine learning system can read an email to identify whether it contains phishing material and either quarantine or distribute the email with the dangerous links deactivated. It also goes a step further by providing an analytics dashboard that allows an administrator to identify trends of assaults based on dates or targeted people.

Conclusion

While client emails need a bit more effort to run, they also provide greater control over user data. In other words, you are the sole owner of your emails, and third parties have no access to them until you specifically – or inadvertently – grant them access.

Allowing your email to run through web applications implies that, while it will be properly backed up, the provider will have authority over your data, and some firms openly admit that they will examine private correspondence at least for marketing purposes. Just make sure you have a backup plan in place to avoid losing your email data.

Why Allowing Android Apps In The Microsoft Store Is A Bad Idea?

Humans are mobile-centric. We all use smartphones as our primary devices.

If we found a way to use our favorite mobile apps natively on our laptops, our lives would become much easier. And guess what, Microsoft is doing just that!

Microsoft recently announced their new OS update Windows 11, which brings android apps and games to the Microsoft Store for the first time. Several apps, including Tiktok, Disney+, Zoom, Adobe Creative Cloud, as well as Microsoft’s in-house apps like Microsoft Teams and Visual Studio, will be available in the Microsoft Store.

Considering that Android is dominant in the mobile OS space with around 73% market share, Android app support for Windows opens the Microsoft ecosystem for a wider audience. In short, you will be able to access thousands of android apps on your Windows PC.

From the surface, Windows 11 Android app support seems impressive.

But wait, is the devil hiding in the details of this update? Or is the update worth the hype?

Let’s find out!

Intel And Amazon Are Facilitating Windows-Android Marriage

In the past, Microsoft tried convincing Android app developers to make their apps Windows compatible. Well, that didn’t go well.

This time, Windows has teamed up with Intel to make Android apps work in Windows with little to no code changes needed by app developers. All thanks to Intel’s Bridge technology.

Although you will be able to discover Android apps on the Microsoft Store, you are not directly downloading the apps from there. You need to download the apps from the Amazon Appstore. To be more precise, Amazon Appstore will be integrated into the Microsoft store.

Yes, you will need an Amazon account to download Android apps from the Microsoft Store. Once you download the mobile applications, it will work like any other Windows application. You will be able to pin those apps in the taskbar or snap them alongside other apps and much more.

The Absence Of Google Play Services

Google Play Services are tools provided by Google to app developers on their platform to make their job easier.

For instance, Google Play Services allow developers to access user location, manage in-app purchases, send push notifications, connect with other applications, and much more. It also enables developers to use the latest interfaces for popular Google across several devices.

In short, Google Play Services is the lifeblood of Android applications.

And guess what, there is no Google Play Services support for Amazon Appstore. This implies that developers publishing apps on Amazon Appstore must put extra effort and money to support some app functions.

It is no wonder why so many Android applications are not available on the Amazon Appstore.

Amazon Appstore Has Limited Apps!

According to Statitsa, Google Play Store ranks first in the app market with over 3.4 million apps. It is followed by the Apple Store that has over 2.2 million apps. As for Amazon Appstore, it comes forth with 460,619 applications.

Certainly, Amazon Appstore pales in comparison to the number of apps in Google Play Store or Apple Store.

Moreover, the Amazon Appstore does not have some notable apps. For instance, android versions of Apple Music and Snapchat are not available in the Amazon Appstore.

Does this mean you are limited to apps in the Amazon Appstore in the Windows 11 update?

Absolutely not!

A Microsoft engineer confirmed in a tweet that Microsoft would allow sideloading apps from other sources. So, in short, you are not limited to Amazon Appstore’s applications.

Although, sideloading allows you to download apps outside the Amazon Appstore. It might be a security nightmare.

Sideloading Apps Have Some Security Concerns

Essentially, sideloading refers to downloading applications that are unavailable in official app stores.

When any application is included in an app store, it is strictly checked for security flaws.

Sideloaded apps are free from such scrutiny. As a result, sideloading apps might pose a security threat to your device.

Another security concern is that the ability to download applications from other sources will enable users to access illegal app repositories. This, in turn, might corrupt your PC.

Also, sideloading isn’t easy. For instance, sideloading applications in a Chrome OS requires enabling Linux plus doing some command line work.

Till now, Microsoft hasn’t commented on the process of sideloading apps on Windows. Plus, it is still unclear whether Windows will have the ability to scan such apps for malicious activities.

The Conclusion

The Windows 11 Android app support feature could be a hit among users.

Microsoft is leaving no stone unturned to convince developers to publish applications in their native app store. From providing support for more app development frameworks to introducing a 100% revenue share model for apps that don’t wish to use Microsoft Commerce, Microsoft is doing everything.

Nonetheless, there are certain issues with the Windows 11 update. They include the limited number of mobile applications on the Amazon Appstore, the importance of Google Play Services for mobile apps, and the safety risks of sideloading apps.

Considering all this, it seems bringing a seamless Android app experience to Windows PC is no easy feat.

References –

  1. https://blogs.windows.com/windowsexperience/2021/06/24/building-a-new-open-microsoft-store-on-windows-11/?mc_cid=f92bd6a751
  2. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.computerworld.com/article/3598922/android-apps-on-windows.amp.html
  3. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.theverge.com/platform/amp/2021/6/25/22550689/windows-11-android-app-sideload-amazon-app-store
  4. https://www.theverge.com/2021/6/24/22549303/windows-11-intel-bridge-android-apps-amd-arm-processors
  5. https://www.theverge.com/2021/6/24/22549303/windows-11-intel-bridge-android-apps-amd-arm-processors

Managed Updates vs. Automatic Updates: What’s the Difference?

Any PC user is familiar with the frequent interruption and nuisance caused by update notifications. You’re probably so used to dismissing them by now that it has become a reflex action. However, those updates are essential for your device’s productivity and security. Ignoring these updates only slows down and jeopardizes your device.

Automatic updates

There are two ways to install these updates: automatic and manual. Automatic updates seem like the obvious choice because of how handy they are. All modern operating systems have the option for automatic updates. You can simply set your device to update automatically every time there’s a new patch or update without having to think twice about it. As perfect as it might seem, the automatic update system has its drawbacks and can even cause more harm than good.

Drawbacks of Automatic Updates

  • Updates are not guaranteed for all the software on your system. Some applications may not have an auto-update facility. As a result, they get left out of patches. Thus, automatic updates can create a false sense of security.
  • Manual updates are needed for firmware and special types of files.
  • Updates that haven’t been properly vetted can cause serious problems.
  • Updates can take long to download and install, leading to significant downtime.

Managed Updates

To safeguard yourself against these issues and to ensure efficient, up-to-date systems, it’s important to have a comprehensive plan for updates. A routine management strategy for testing and deploying updates can save you from a lot of frustration and security vulnerabilities. You can manage updates manually or by using group policy or use management tools for large organizations. Begin by having an update policy.

Update Policy

An update policy ensures efficient, predictable update processes. This can help users avoid downtime by planning their work and incorporating updates during inactive times. It also sets protocols in place for dealing with unexpected issues, including rolling back failed updates. The policy addresses several types of updates, like Patch Tuesdays, firmware updates, and feature updates.

In order to generate an update policy, consider the following aspects:

  • When to install monthly updates: Monthly cumulative security and reliability updates are downloaded and installed within 24 hours of their release on Patch Tuesday. You can also defer these updates for up to 30 days. This gives you time to test the update for compatibility and not simply to procrastinate.
  • Restarting PCs to complete installation of updates: Most updates require a restart to finish installation, and usually, this takes place outside of the Active Hours setting of 8 am-5 pm. However, if your active hours differ, you can change the setting to an interval that suits you, up to 18 hours.
  • Pending updates and restart notifications: Users have limited control over these settings. However, more options are available using Group Policy settings.
  • Out-of-brand updates: Sometimes, Microsoft releases security updates outside of normal Patch Tuesdays. Make sure you have a plan regarding these infrequent updates.
  • Update failures: Have a plan to deal with a situation in which an update fails to install or causes problems.

Managing Manual Updates

Small businesses, including individual-run businesses, can configure Windows Update manually. Just go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update.

You can select the Change Active Hours option to schedule restarts that will help you avoid downtime. You can also go to Advanced Options and regulate the settings under Choose When Updates Are Installed.

Feature updates can be deferred by a maximum of 365 days, and monthly updates can be deferred by 30 days. For version 2004 and later, these options are not available. You need to adjust Group Policy settings to adjust delays in installations.

Managing Updates Using Group Policy

All of the manual settings can be applied using Group Policy, and it enables you to go beyond what’s available in Settings. These policies are almost exclusively available for Windows 10. You can check out the Windows Update for the Business feature in Computer Configuration. With this feature, you can:

  • Choose a servicing channel and set delays for feature updates.
  • Set delays for quality updates.
  • Manage preview builds.
  • Choose a specific feature update version for subsequent scans.

Additional configurations include:

  • Remove user access from the “pause updates” feature to avoid interference with the installation.
  • Prevent users from changing any Windows Update settings.
  • Allow updates to be downloaded automatically or on devices using a metered connection.
  • Prevent Windows Update from installing device drivers.

Conclusion

While automatic updates may seem like a quick fix to newly discovered performance and security issues, they are not perfect. If handled incorrectly, automatic updates can wreak havoc. Managed updates, on the other hand, strike a balance between staying up-to-date and avoiding chaos. Thus, the wise choice would be to make some effort for your system’s health and manage your updates.