Tech Insight : Windows 11

With the launch of Microsoft’s Windows 11 recently announced in an online event, we take a brief look at what’s new with this new OS, how it challenges Apple, and when it’s available.

Early Preview + Free Update

An early preview version of the new Microsoft Windows 11, next generation OS will be released for app developers next week and will be made available as a free update to existing Windows 10 users, provided their devices have a minimum of 64 gigabytes of storage and 4 gigabytes of RAM (see Windows 11 spec requirements here https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windows-11-specifications). Windows 10 is currently running on a staggering 1.3 billion devices! 

Warning

It has been reported that due to Windows 11 only supporting eighth generation and newer Intel Core processors, as well as Apollo Lake, and newer types of Pentium and Celeron processors, as things stand, the new Windows 11 may not be able to run on many computers.

Also, with Microsoft Windows 11, the required “hard floor” (minimum configuration) is that a device needs a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip (a type of security chip used for things like storing passwords and encryption keys) to run it.  This means that without this type of chip, Windows can’t be run on a device, and even with devices that meet the “soft floor”, it looks as though they may receive a notification that an upgrade to Windows 11 is not advisable.  The Windows PC Health Check app should be able to tell you if your PC can support Windows 11. You can download the app here: https://aka.ms/GetPCHealthCheckApp.

Some Key Points

Provided Windows 11 does run on your computer, some key points to note about the new OS are that:

– For upgrading from Windows 10, the upgrade roll-out plan is not yet finalised but Microsoft says it will begin “late in 2021 and continue into 2022”.

– PCs with Windows 11 pre-installed will be only available later this year.

– The new OS is based on the code of Windows 10 which should minimise new glitches and favour continuity of experience.

– Teams is built-in to Windows 11. This integration is designed to strengthen Microsoft’s position in its battle (heightened during pandemic remote working) with competing cloud-based, collaborative working and communication platforms e.g., Slack and Zoom.

– Android apps can run on the Windows desktop laptops and PCs and a new Windows Store lets software developers use their own in-app payment systems (and pay no commissions to Microsoft).  This move by Microsoft is likely to be deliberately in contrast to rival Apple’s “walled garden” approach to developer software downloads and Apple’s in-app payment systems (and pay commissions of up to 30%).

– It’s good news for gamers (individual users) as Xbox Games Pass comes pre-installed.

– Desktop layouts can be more easily customised e.g., using Snap layouts, news, information, and entertainment can be more easily curated by the user (through Widgets and Edge). 

Obvious Changes

– The ‘Start’ menu is in the bottom-middle position rather than bottom-left.  It’s worth noting also that your pinned apps and sites may not migrate when you update from Windows 10 and Live Tiles are no longer available.

– There are some changes to the Taskbar e.g., People no longer present, some icons not appearing in the System Tray, alignment to the bottom of the screen is the only location allowed, and apps can’t customise parts of the Taskbar.

– You can no longer find/use the Timeline (similar functionality has been added to Microsoft Edge).

– As expected, Internet Explorer is totally disabled, thereby completing the move to Edge.

Other Changes To Note

– Users can more easily and seamlessly undock a computer from an external monitor e.g., to take a call in another (quieter room) and then return to the docking station. This is likely to appeal to business users.

– Apps such as 3D Viewer, OneNote for Windows 10, Paint 3D (most people just use Paint) and Skype won’t be removed on upgrade but won’t be installed on new devices or in clean installing of Windows 11.  Instead, they’ll simply be available from the Store.

– Microsoft is including tools in Windows 11 to tip/reward/motivate content creators and local news outlets.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

This is the first new version of Windows for 6 years and is clearly aimed at competing with Apple’s App Store business model, challenging Alphabet Inc’s/Google Play Store, encouraging/helping developers, and content creators, and appealing more to business/corporate users with some of its improved features and integrated Teams. It is a shame, and somewhat confusing, therefore, that many machines may not have the (chip) spec to run Windows 11. It remains to be seen how this situation plays out before the full release date later in the year.

That said, Microsoft announced on Thursday that (for those who can successfully run Windows 11) it will include new tools for tipping content creators – including local news outlets – directly in the Windows 11 operating system. The company recently cut commissions on games sold through the store to 12 percent, which is lower than the 15 percent it takes on regular apps and has been a critic of Apple’s App Store. Visually and organisationally, the centred start menu, customisation, and curation options, plus the cleaned up “creative space” is designed to endear itself more to users in an Apple-like way and give greater control but not feel like a drastic, hard to master change. Businesses will have to wait until an unspecified ‘later in the year’ date to experience Windows 11 for themselves, by which time more should be known about any changes to the chip “hard floor” and any other glitches that may be revealed by those trying the developer version.

Featured Article : Who Was John McAfee?

After John McAfee was found dead in a Barcelona prison cell last week, we take a brief look at the colourful life of this complicated, maverick software entrepreneur.

McAfee Antivirus

The products that made John McAfee a household name were his antivirus software and anti-spam products. John McAfee formed his software company, originally called McAfee Associates, back in 1987. His idea to create anti-virus software came about while working (as a contractor) at Lockheed Martin, where he worked on a classified voice-recognition program. While on that job, McAfee saw a piece of self-replicating code that had been designed to copy itself onto any floppy disk that was inserted into affected computers. This led to McAfee finding a way to disinfect the computers, thereby creating a very early kind of what became known as anti-virus. McAfee then posted his anti-virus cure on a bulletin board and decided to set up his own company specialising in tackling what he realised would be a threat to computer systems.

John McAfee resigned from the company in 1994 and the company was sold to Intel in 2011 for £4.7bn. The McAfee company has since grown by acquisition, thereby diversifying its security offerings. There have been many reports from users that McAfee software seems hard to completely uninstall.

The Man

John McAfee rose to commercial fame as a maverick entrepreneur. Born in Gloucestershire, the son of an Englishwoman who met an American soldier while he was stationed in the UK in World War II, it is reported that his father was an abusive alcoholic who shot himself when McAfee was only 15 years old. It seems that McAfee inherited addiction and is reported to have continued taking drugs during the many programming jobs where he learned his software trade at many prestigious companies, including NASA, General Electric, and Xerox. His academic career (a PhD in mathematics) had been cut short after he was reported to have slept with an under-graduate he was supposed to be mentoring, but this would be one of many parts of his life that may have been part of his addict’s behaviour patterns. This sickness led to his wife leaving him, losing his employment at Omex in 1980 due to drug dependency, and finally making it to Alcoholics Anonymous in 1984, after which time he claimed to have never drunk or taken drugs again.

Publicity and News

John MacAfee was often in news, particularly, and unfortunately after moving to Belize in central America in 2008. McAfee moved next door to a man called Gregory Faull. Mr Faull was murdered in his home in 2012 and it emerged that Mr Faull had reported McAfee’s dogs to the local police for being dangerous and that the dogs had been poisoned. Although some saw this as a possible motive for an attack on Mr Faull, McAfee claimed to have hardly ever spoken to Mr Faull and McAfee suggested that the whole situation may have been part of an extortion plan. After disappearing shortly after the murder, McAfee was found by police in Guatemala, and after questioning was released as a free man a few days later.

Although free, he was ordered by Florida court to pay a large ‘wrongful death’ claim to Faull’s estate in 2019.

Presidential Ambitions

In 2015, John McAfee became a candidate with the ‘Cyber’ party, but in 2020, McAfee announced that he intended to run for President in the US either for the Libertarian Party or for his own party as a way to give a platform to the ‘crypto community’.

Crypto Currencies

As reflected in the reasons for his presidential ambitions, what proved to be the last years of McAfee’s life were focused on promoting ‘alt-coins’ which were crypto-currencies that were competitors to Bitcoin.

Death

Following accusations of failing to file tax returns for four years and potentially owing millions, accusations of concealing assets, and accusations of fraud and money laundering, John MacAfee was arrested and imprisoned in Spain in October 2020.  Last week, just hours after the news that a Spanish court had agreed to extradite him to the US to face charges, the 75-year-old was found dead, possibly by suicide, in his prison cell.

Helped Build The Software Industry

Although John McAfee was clearly a complex character who made the news in later life for many of the wrong reasons, he will also be remembered for the important part he played in the initial building of the software industry as well as being one of the more controversial software entrepreneurs.

Tech News : £50 Note Featuring ‘Father of Computer Science’ Enters Circulation

The new £50 note featuring the face of mathematician and ‘father of computer science’ (and Bletchley Park code-breaker) Alan Turing has entered circulation.

Turing’s Birthday

The note, which was announced in July 2019 and finally entered circulation last week to coincide with Turing’s birthday, means that all new UK banknote denominations are now made of plastic.  The old paper £20 and £50 notes won’t be accepted as payment in shops from October next year.

ACE & Bombe

As well as the 1951 photo of Turing’s face, the new £50 note also features his Automatic Computing Engine (ACE) which is credited as being the first full specification of an electronic stored-program all-purpose digital computer, and drawings of the electro-mechanical Turing-Welchman ‘Bombe’. Although the British ‘Bombe’ was based on an existing Polish cypher-machine, its initial design was produced in 1939 by Turing at Bletchley Park. This was one of the tools used by Turing and the top-secret Bletchley Park team to break the Enigma-enciphered code messages, thereby benefitting the allies and shortening the war by years.

Father of Computer Science

After studying at King’s College Cambridge, in 1936 Turing published his paper “On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem”, with which Turing proved that his “universal computing machine” could perform any mathematical computation if it were representable as an algorithm. This, plus his work developed at Bletchley Park is why Turing is widely thought of as the father of modern computer science.

Who Uses £50 Notes?

Although featuring Turing on a banknote is thought to be long-overdue recognition of a person whose work was of worldwide importance and that Turing was wronged by his 1952 conviction for “gross indecency” and subsequent ‘chemical castration’, the denomination of the note has highlighted questions. For example, with cash usage in decline anyway (despite claims that there is high demand for notes), and very few people using £50 for retail purchases, and the former chief executive of Standard Chartered bank, Peter Sands, being reported as describing the £50 note as the “currency of corrupt elites, of crime of all sorts and of tax evasion”, most people in the UK are likely to have very few and very brief encounters with the new note.  Back in 2018, the future of the £50 note, as well as 1p and 2p coins was discussed in a government review.

Cash Usage In Decline

Even before the pandemic, cash use was in decline thanks to the convenience of contactless payments. With ‘contactless’ being preferred over cash during the pandemic, this has hastened the decline of cash use in developed countries. For example, in October 2020, a survey by Nationwide Building Society revealed that by that point in the pandemic, the average respondent had gone over six weeks without using cash and that the lockdown led to 27% of respondents using mobile payments and 25% to use online or mobile banking for the first time.  Also, in the first week of lockdown, 23 March, 7.15 million contactless payments worth £77.27m were made by Nationwide customers.  As lockdown progressed, there was a substantial increase in contactless payments to 10.31 contactless payments worth £128m in the week beginning 25 May 2020.

Access To Cash research from 2019 showed that cash usage appeared likely to end by as soon as 2026, although notes and coins may still be used in 15 years’ time, but only for an estimated 10% to 15% of transactions.

Cashless Would Not Favour Already Disadvantaged Groups

Even though the move towards cashless may sound convenient to most members of society, it should also be remembered that many poorer and older members of society (and those with mental health challenges) rely on cash, may not have a bank account, and may suffer more hardship if cash was accepted in fewer places.

Also, businesses in rural areas have always found it more difficult to go cashless in preference of digital payments due to those areas being less well served by broadband and mobile connections.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

It is good that the UK has given some more recognition to the achievements of Alan Turing (and his Bletchley Park team), and in addition to his 2013 posthumous apology and royal pardon for his conviction for gross indecency, featuring him on the note is another way to acknowledge how his treatment during his life was unfair.  Even though there are claims that there is still huge demand for notes, most people and businesses rarely use £50 notes.  There are also many different studies confirming a decline in cash usage in favour of alternatives such as contactless which is more convenient for users and businesses, can save costs, and allow faster trading in business premises. With so many more of us now opting for online shopping, this also favours cards over cash. The pandemic has undoubtedly forced consumers to rely more upon contactless, digital, and online payments, and has forced people to try new payment methods that they may prefer going forward.  This means that businesses can expect (and should plan for) a growing preference by customers to use contactless, digital, and online payments.

Tech News : UK Firm Hit By £130,000 Fine For Marketing Calls

The ICO has fined home improvements company ColourCoat Ltd £130,000 for making more than 900,000 nuisance marketing calls!

What?

ColourCoat Ltd of St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex, which provides a number of home improvement services, was fined for making almost a million nuisance calls over an eight-month period, between 1st August 2019 and 31st March 2020. This equated to an unbelievable average of 56,601 calls per month or 13,722 calls per week!

Repeatedly Calling

The company managed to clock-up the staggering total and incur the wrath of 50 complainants (and the ICO) by repeatedly calling people who had asked not to be called again and had withheld their phone numbers to prevent people from contacting them. This included a large number of people who had registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) and its business version, the Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS).

Gave False Company Names

The ICO reports that ColourCoat even resorted to providing false company names which included “Homes Advice Bureau” and on one occasion, even “Citizens’ Advice Bureau”.

“No Regard For The Law”

Natasha Longson, ICO Investigations Manager, is quoted as saying (on the ICO website) that “This company had no regard for the law or for the people they were calling”, and explained how the complainants described the calls received as ‘rude’, ‘aggressive’ and ‘abusive’, and made one complainant feel “threatened”.

The people who reported the calls to the ICO are also quoted as saying that the nature calls made them feel “annoyed” or “anxious”, and it was the manner of the calls as well as the “catalogue of contraventions” that led to ColourCoat Ltd receiving such a hefty fine and a legal notice.

Breaches

The breaches that resulted in the fine and legal notice relate to Regulations 21 and 24 of Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 (PECR). These regulations give people specific privacy rights in relation to electronic communications, including marketing calls, emails, texts and faxes, cookies (and similar technologies), keeping communications services secure, and customer privacy (traffic and location data, itemised billing, line identification, and directory listings).

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

This story illustrates an extreme example of a company apparently having no regard for electronic communications laws/regulations of the rights and matters of consent of the victims. All businesses need to be aware that alongside (UK) GDPR sit The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) and the ICO has the power under PECR to impose monetary penalties of up to an eye-watering £500,000! As illustrated in this story, registering with the TPS and CTPS can help, but this doesn’t guarantee that you will stop receiving calls. GDPR (UK) gives a person the right to request that they no longer contacted by a company, and the ‘right to be forgotten’ i.e., the right to request that a company removes all relevant personal details from its database/data storage systems. You can also report any unsolicited calls (or spam texts) that you are particularly unhappy with directly to the ICO via their website here https://ico.org.uk/make-a-complaint/nuisance-calls-and-messages/spam-texts-and-nuisance-calls/.

Tech Tip – Creating Drop-down Lists in Google Sheets

If you use Google Sheets and need to simplify data-entry, adding dropdown lists can really help. Here’s how to add them:

– In Google Sheets, select the cell where you want the dropdown list.

– Click on ‘Data’, select ‘Data Validation’, and select ‘List of items’.

– In the field that loads, type the items you want to include in the dropdown list, separated by commas, and select ‘Save’.

Tech News : UK Nuke Plant Built With Amazon Cash

General Fusion, a Canadian company with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos as one of its backers is building a Nuclear Fusion power demonstration plant at Culham in Oxfordshire.

Fusion

Whereas current nuclear power plants split atoms in a process known as ‘fission’ to generate energy, ‘fusion’ generates energy by fusing atoms together, which is the same process that powers our sun.  The fusion process, which can actually create temperatures much hotter than the sun, is achieved by combining lighter elements (hydrogen) to make a heavier one (helium) such as in the tokamak reactor design which uses powerful magnetic fields (magnetised target fusion) to control charged gas/plasma, all contained within a doughnut-shaped container.

The Benefits of Fusion

Fusion power, which was described by National Geographic (2019) as the “holy grail for the future of nuclear power” is safer than fission nuclear power, produces very little radioactive waste, and is a carbon-free energy source. 

Culham Demonstration Plant

The Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak experiment/demonstration plant at Culham, is estimated to cost around $400m and aims to be operational by 2025.

The facility, which is 70 percent the size of a commercial reactor, is owned and managed by the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA). It has been reported that the owners of the plant, General Fusion, have been backed by investment from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos for more than ten years and, after raising $100m in its last funding round, is likely to use the successful operation of its UK plant as a basis to return to investors looking for more money.

UK Government

The UK Government is reported to have committed £222 million to General Fusion’s Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (Step) programme at the Culham site which could lead the design and build of the world’s first prototype fusion power plant by 2040, which, it is thought, could support hundreds of jobs in Oxfordshire.

Challenge

There are currently different approaches to methods being used globally for fusion. The challenge to all of them, however, is to get more energy out of the reactions than is put in.

Breakthrough in May at Culham

In May, the fusion programme at Culham reported making a breakthrough in the development of a better way to remove the excess heat produced by fusion reactions, thereby protecting the materials inside the reactor, and extending the amount of time the fusion reactor can operate for.  The new system, which was reported to work in a similar way to a car-exhaust, led to a tenfold reduction in the excess heat.

Nottinghamshire Site?

Back in March there were also reports that the site of the old Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station in Nottinghamshire (due to be decommissioned) could be perfect for a prototype, commercial nuclear fusion reactor.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Finding a way to supply a limitless, clean, cost-effective, and safe power source could benefit us all, help the environment, and create new opportunities in a whole new sector.  For the UK government, the chance to develop a fusion industry in the UK and be seen to be at the cutting edge of the new industry is the justification for the investment.  For Canadian company General Fusion, having a project in the UK is a way to help it expand its geographical presence and broaden its growing global network of government, institutional, and industrial partners in what is becoming a battle to establish early market leadership and promote its approach to and version of fusion as being the preferred format.

Tech News : Five-Year High For Tech Hiring

New figures from job search engine Adzuna and data provider Dealroom show that hiring in the tech industry has reached its highest level in five years.

Vacancies Exceeding Pre-Pandemic Levels

The data, which was compiled by Adzuna and Dealroom for the Government’s Digital Economy Council shows that job vacancies in the digital tech sector have now exceeded pre-pandemic levels and are at their highest level since 2016.

For example, in April 2021 almost 10,000 vacancies for software developers were recorded.  This figure is almost double the number recorded in the same period last year. Also, in May this year, 132,000 tech/digital job vacancies were recorded in a single week.

Increased Demand For Digital Services

The increased demand for digital services created by the pandemic was a key driver in the increase in tech job vacancies.  For example, the pandemic meant that retail, healthcare and other sectors had to rely more on digitisation and many businesses found that they were forced into an accelerated digital transformation.  These factors created greater demand for tech products and services, and this, in turn, increased demand for those who could develop tech products and services.

Big Investment in UK Tech Companies

Another factor driving the rise in UK tech vacancies has been the big increase in the investment in UK tech companies over the last year. For example, as reported by TechNation and Dealroom, despite the global pandemic, there was a record level of venture capital (VC) investment in 2020 into UK tech companies, with investment reaching $15bn. This investment, particularly in London, Oxford, Bristol, Cambridge, and Edinburgh, meant that the UK became the third highest investor in tech globally, behind the US ($144.3bn) and China ($44.6bn).

Start-up Hiring Strong

The investment in tech companies has fuelled tech start-ups which, in turn, has kept start-up hiring resilient, and this has contributed to more tech job vacancies.

Almost A Quarter of Tech Jobs Now Remote

One important pattern in the tech-jobs arena is that almost a quarter (22 percent) are remote. This figure represents a doubling of the figure from the same time last year and is likely to be heavily influenced by a general move to remote working during the pandemic as well as by jobhunters hoping to avoid commuting, together with the uncertainty of office-based work in a changing public health situation. This move to remote working has boosted tech job vacancies outside London, and particularly in the north-west of England (Manchester) and Birmingham.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Back in 2019, much of the focus was on the challenge of a tech skills gap. Investment through 2020, and the effects on demand for tech skills caused by a surge in demand for digital/tech services during the pandemic have boosted confidence in the industry, boosted vacancies, and changed the geography and nature of tech jobs e.g., away from London and in favour of remote work. The government is, of course, keen to talk-up these increases as evidence of its investment in what now appears to be a booming UK tech sector. For UK businesses, this shift in focus of tech job vacancies should mean that they are more able to fill roles and get their required tech skills from a wider pool of talent around the country, perhaps considering more remote input.

Featured Article : Why Food Delivery App Orders Can Cost Up To 44 Percent More

An investigation by consumer champion ‘Which?’ has revealed that food ordered via delivery apps such as Deliveroo, Just Eat, and Uber Eats can be considerably more expensive than dealing directly with the food outlet.

Food Delivery Apps

Seven out of 10 people in the UK (Which? survey) say they now use food delivery apps.  Popular delivery apps such as Deliveroo, Just Eat, and Uber Eats work by allowing customers to place food orders from different restaurants and fast-food outlets in an area using an app on their smartphone or tablet device. Once the restaurant receives, accepts, and confirms a paid-for order, the nearest delivery person is directed to the restaurant from where they take the prepared food to the customer using the navigation in the app. Customers can check the delivery person’s status, location, and ETA on the app.

Deliveroo and Uber Eats have also now added groceries to their platforms so the above process differs slightly in terms of order-picking and delivery method.

Price Differences

The ‘Which?’ survey showed that ordering via the apps cost significantly more than ordering directly from the restaurant, even when delivery costs are accounted for. This is because in addition to individual items varying in price, there are also commission charges for the restaurants which may be reflected in higher pricing.

Comparison

In the Which? survey, a comparison was made between the cost breakdown and price of the same dishes (Chicken Shish & Mixed Grill) ordered from the same Lebanese restaurant, but using the three different Deliveroo, Just Eat, and Uber Eats delivery apps. The results showed that ordering a Chicken Shish direct from the restaurant cost £12.95 but ordered via Deliveroo and Just Eat the price was £13.95, and £14.95 via Uber Eats.

The Which? survey also compared the purchase of the same groceries purchased direct from the Co-Op, and purchased using the Deliveroo App.  The total price of a direct purchase was £35.40, whereas the price of purchasing the same groceries using Deliveroo was found to be £48.09, a whole £12.69 more!

Commission Paid To Apps

According to Which? the extra expense appears to be down restaurants simply charging more to get back some of the money they must pay out in commission to the apps. The commission can account for anywhere between 15 percent and 35 percent of the total cost of an order. Delivery apps such as Uber Eats, for example, may offer participating restaurants a zero percent commission for the first 40 days before moving the commission rate up.

The Which? report suggests that with delivery app services essentially taking over from people going to the high street during the pandemic lockdowns, restaurants may have felt as though they were faced with the choice being of Deliveroo (for example) and at least getting some business while having to put up with the commission payments, or not being on Deliveroo but essentially becoming invisible and potentially going out of business. The evidence presented in the Which? report also appears to show that for some restaurants with higher running costs, the commission charges of the app delivery service may make using the service unviable.

Customer Complaints

The Which? survey appears to show that even though customers are having to pay more to have their food delivered, they are not always receiving value due to problems often related to delivery.  For example, 59 percent of Deliveroo users and 53 percent of Uber Eats customers reported problems with their orders over the last 12 months. The most common complaints were found to be late delivery, cold food and missing items.

Complaint Complications

It also appears that the fact that there is an extra, third-party service involved (i.e. the delivery app) means that in some cases, customers can find themselves being passed around between the app and the restaurant if they complain and so they don’t always receive a satisfactory resolution.

Resolution Complications

The Which? survey also found that although consumer law states that customers should get what they paid in the first place as a refund, in some cases, customers have been offered an in-app credit with an expiry date instead of a full refund.

Amazon and Deliveroo

Back in April last year, after the UK Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) had considered competition concerns, it was decided that Amazon could invest in food distribution company Deliveroo.  Amazon had previously operated its own ‘Amazon Restaurants’ food delivery service in London, but this was closed in December 2018 following strong competition from Deliveroo, Uber Eats, Just Eat, among and others.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Convenience is the big selling point for delivery app customers and there’s no doubt that despite the higher price (compared to direct ordering) these app-based food delivery services have provided an extra layer of value during the pandemic when high streets were effectively closed. For participating restaurants, the app-based delivery services have also provided a lifeline during the pandemic, but one that comes at a cost (i.e. commission paid to the app). There may be an argument, therefore, that now that high streets are again accessible, ordering direct has to be a serious option for customers, not least because the price is lower, but also because any problems are likely to be easier to resolve. For restaurants, although they may receive many orders from app-based delivery services, the ideal situation would be to have more customers ordering direct, thereby cutting out the need for any commission payments.

Tech Insight : What’s DaaS?

In this article, we take a brief look at what DaaS is, as well as its advantages and disadvantages.

Desktop as a Service

Desktop as a Service (DaaS) is a service where virtual applications/virtual desktops, via a third-party public or private cloud service, are made accessible (streamed) to users over the Internet via an html-based web browser or a secure application downloaded to the user’s device(s).  DaaS is usually licensed with a per-user subscription.

VDI, VM, and DaaS

VDI refers to the backend ‘virtual desktop infrastructure’ of DaaS, including the ‘virtual machines’ that run desktop operating systems, and are hosted by the third-party cloud provider. A virtual machine (VM) is a virtual environment which operates just like a ‘computer within a computer’, runs on its own isolated part of its host computer, and has its own resources that enable it to let end-users operate it (run apps on it) as they would a physical workstation.

Advantages of DaaS

The advantages of DaaS include:

– It offers businesses a simple to operate, centralised, turnkey, pay-as-you-go solution with minimal set-up time.

– It is flexible and scalable.

– IT admin is simplified (saving time and money).

– The DaaS providers handle VDI deployment, maintenance, security, upgrades, data backup, and storage, thereby saving money and freeing up in-house IT resources and meaning that companies don’t have to go to the expense, trouble, and risk of trying to manage their own on-premises VDI solution.

– An improved disaster recovery (DR) solution (i.e. failover resources) are hosted (securely) in the cloud rather than needing backup workstations.

– Better functionality and productivity from being less likely to fail, experience downtime or disruptions.

– Less dependence on (and fewer costs for) hardware/desktop infrastructure supply chains.

– DaaS can deliver better insights from data, as well as better data integration and governance.

– Improved agility of data workloads.

Disadvantages of DaaS

Some disadvantages include:

– Users will still need a device capable of running and accessing the DaaS service, as well as a good, fast Internet connection. Both of these factors have cost and employee access implications.

– Licensing payments are still required.

– Moving (sensitive) data to the cloud could bring some compliance challenges for some organisations.

– Trust in the security of the cloud is necessary and moving data to the cloud and transferring it over a network could, arguably, bring a data risk compared to keeping it locally behind the firewall.

– IT staff/the business may lack experience in using DaaS.

Some Examples

Examples of DaaS providers/service include Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop, Amazon WorkSpaces, VMware Horizon Cloud, Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops, Cloudalize, V2 Cloud, and dinCloud (dinWorkSpace).

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Many businesses have made the move to the cloud anyway and are also now used to the subscription economy and the ‘as-a-service’ model of delivery e.g., Windows 10. The DaaS model clearly offers many benefits, to businesses e.g., cost and resource savings, centralisation, security, flexibility, and simplification, as well as being particularly useful at a time when remote working and now the move to hybrid working have become important. DaaS also enables companies to improve the agility of data workloads, get important business insights more quickly, offer a better work access solution to employees as well as freeing the business from many of the traditional IT management and admin challenges.

Tech Tip – How To Use Anchors (Bookmarks) In Google Docs

If you’d like to make it faster and easier to navigate between different document sections in Google Docs, here’s how to insert anchors (known as ‘bookmarks’):

– In Google Docs, type the name of the document in the Title column and open your chosen document.

– Put the cursor at the beginning of where you want to put the bookmark.

– From the document navigation bar select “Insert” > “Bookmark”.

– Go to the section of the document where the link to the Bookmark should come from and click “Insert” > “Link”.

– Type your link text In the Edit Link dialog box.

– Click on “Bookmark” in the “Link To” section to open the Bookmarks list, select your bookmark, and click on the “OK” button to complete the link.