Bi101 Blog … on cloud computing and SaaS, by Business Intelligence 101

Features of Powerpoint Presentations vs Google Presentations

small__2838606134It’s time for a presentation showdown. Which is better for online slideshows: Google Presentation, or Microsoft PowerPoint 365?

As with most discussions of 365 vs Google Apps, it largely boils down to what you’re looking for. Broadly speaking, PowerPoint has more features, templates, and all around doodads than Google will likely ever offer. As with their other online tools, Google Presentations is focused on a stripped-down, “only what you need” approach similar to Apple’s design school.

In particular, Apps falls down when it comes to compatibility with Microsoft products. Google Presentation has earned a reputation as “where Powerpoints get mangled,” and it’s largely true in our experience. Rarely, if ever, will a PPT uploaded to Google emerge unharmed. Many will require reformating, and some get broken beyond repair.

Despite this, there are a few unique and compelling features that make Google Presentation an interesting tool in its own right…

Benefits In Google Presentation Over PowerPoint

1 – Collaboration

Google continues to lead the field in online collaboration and invisible multiuser access. Presentation seamlessly updates documents with changes within a couple seconds, and makes it simple for distributed workers to all work on the same slideshow together without any file access problems.

2 – Device Compatibility

Microsoft isn’t known for being terribly friendly towards non-MS systems, although this has changed somewhat with their recent release of an iOS Office app for Apple devices. However, Google is still the clear winner here, because of their focus on keeping tools online. Even on esoteric systems like Linux boxes, Google Presentation works perfectly with nearly identical interfaces on any given device.

As such, it may be a better fit for an operation whose employees or clients are on a wide range of hardware and compatibility problems would otherwise be a concern.

3 – YouTube Integrationsmall__2830319467

You can insert YouTube videos directly into Google Presentations, which is a feature Microsoft doesn’t currently offer with any video service. For that matter, most content from Google-owned services can make it into Google Apps seamlessly. This may make it easier for companies to build truly multimedia presentations that cross-link to other content they’ve produced.

4 – Online Slideshow Presentations

Google’s web viewer is much faster, smoother, and generally nicer to use than Microsoft’s. You might not be able to deploy so many fancy effects and transitions, but a Google Presentations slideshow will run much better for everyday users just trying to view it.

Then again, if your focus is sharing slideshows, might be better than either other option…

Google Presentation: Getting What You Pay For

Of course, the other elephant in the room is the price: Google Apps is free in many situations, and certainly costs less than Microsoft products in any implementation. So, if you need a lightweight slideshow app with great online accessibility, Google Presentation will do the trick. If you need a wider range of features, or expect to edit existing PPT files, stick to PowerPoint.

Want more advice on cloud collaboration? Bi101 is here to help!

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Capability Comparison of Google Docs vs Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word or Google Docs? There’s a new format war brewing, and there’s no clear winner computing

For companies looking to move their document collaboration online, there are compelling reasons to embrace either Google or Microsoft.   So, let’s take a quick look at some of the major differences.

Docs vs Word: The Showdown

Reasons To Go Google

1 – Collaboration

While Microsoft has made major leaps in this area over the last couple years, Google is still the hands-down winner for live, simple document collaboration. Some MS products, like Excel, still can’t handle multi-user input.

2 – Simplicity

Google has made it clear that they’re uninterested in trying to compete with Office feature-for-feature. Their offerings deliberately only include the most-used features so that they can be simple and accessible, without the learning curve of Office.

3 – Unified Interface

While, again, Microsoft has improved in this respect, there’s still significant variation in different aspects of Office and their various app offerings. Google, being entirely online, offers a virtually identical experience regardless of access device.

Reasons for Microsoft 

  1. Compatibility

DOC remains the industry standard document file format, and that’s unlikely to change any time soon. Any work done in Google’s system will have to be converted to DOC to get it out of Google’s system, and compatibility is flaky. For many, it’s easier to just use Word.

  1. Featurescloud computing training

You could probably fill a book listing all the features of Word, alone, which aren’t in Google Docs. Does a private user or small business need them? Probably not. But the first time you need advanced document editing, there’s a good chance Google Docs won’t fit the bill.

  1. Expandability

There’s really no contest here. In terms of adding features, options, and online storage space, Microsoft easily exceed Google, especially at the high end.   Google Apps currently have issues scaling up to high use, although they’ll undoubtedly be working to improve that.

Different Solutions For Different Uses

The real answer here is that there’s no clear “winner” because Google and Microsoft are largely targeting two different user groups. Google Apps offers the simplest cloud collaboration software on the market, while Microsoft makes the most feature-packed.

Largely, if you’re already on one platform, there’s probably no reason to change as long as everything is working. None the less, larger firms might want to investigate whether they’re actually getting use out of those pricey Microsoft features they’re paying for. Or, on the other hand, a rapidly growing small business may well outgrow Google’s current offerings.

If you’re unsure what direction in cloud services you should head, just contact Bi101 for a free consultation. We’ll get you on the perfect cloud platform for your future needs.

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Functionality of Excel vs Google Sheets

cloud computingGoogle’s online offerings continue to grow and expand. Can Google Sheets replace Excel, or even stand side by side with it yet?   Well… Not really. But it’s getting better.     A few months ago, Google rolled out significant updates to their series of lite cloud-based office software, including a new “Office Compatibility Mode.” This greatly improves Google’s compatibility with standard Microsoft formats, including the ability to edit them live in collaboration.

If you’ve got a Google Docs app, it’s easy to enable. There’s now an option in the “…” pulldown menu to enable compatibility mode, and then it begins automatically saving the file in MS formats rather than in Google’s own.   While it works quite well, overall, with most traditional document types like Word Doc files, the performance for Excel compatibility is still pretty minimal.

What You Can’t Do In Google Sheets’ Office Compatibility Mode

1 – Features   The list of missing features is far too long to list out, but Excel is THE spreadsheet app for a reason. Most complex macros, financial analysis tools, and statistical analysis tools in Sheets are either missing entirely or barely there. Sheets only carries over the most commonly used spreadsheet features. It’s fine for a home or small office, but will fall down quickly for any speciality work.

2 – Formulas   Google can’t read or handle a large number of Excel’s formula types, so all but the simplest of formulas are likely to get lost in translation to Google’s format. Unfortunately, this is also true going both ways. Google has their own formula markup language for Sheets, and it rarely converts into outgoing Excel files either. The two just are not compatible enough at the moment.   So what this means is that Google Sheets may be fine for limited usage, but the first time you have a client who must have data provided on their own custom spreadsheet, you’ll have to get Excel to handle it.

So What Can Google Sheets Do?

Collaboration. Sheets can be edited live by as many users as is necessary. It completely eliminates single-user file lockdown.   If this is a feature your office needs, and you’re willing to sacrifice the mountain of possibly extraneous features that Excel offers, the collaboration itself is great. It’s virtually seamless and allows for simple editing by everyone at once.

Excel Is Still King Of The Spreadsheets

For high level usage, and compatibility with other businesses, there’s really no doubt. Excel is still king of the hill, and will likely remain there for some time to come. Google Sheets continues to make big strides forward, but Google’s emphasis on ease-of-use means Sheets is likely to remain a lightweight and incompatible alternative.

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Understanding The Beginnings Of Microsoft Office 365

cloud computingOffice 365 is the latest iteration in Microsoft’s long, long lived suite of Office products that started with Microsoft Word in 1983, at the dawn of personal computing. While Microsoft has  certainly introduced lots of changes to their Office line over the years, the move to the cloud-based Office 365 is easily the most radical jump they’ve made yet.

So where did Office 365 come from? Let’s take a quick look at its history.

A Nutshell History Of Microsoft Office 365

Office 365 was first announced in October 2010, followed by a beta period and then a wide rollout in mid-2011. It was undoubted inspired in large part by the rapid advances Google had made with their collaborative Google Apps suite which, in 2010, was the only major offering of its type. The rapid embrace of Google’s services demonstrated the hunger people had for cloud services.

The high cost of self-hosting hardware and software was undoubtedly part of this. Companies were looking abroad and doing more business overseas, and to successfully share documents, it required a full Microsoft Exchange server capable of handling a lot of data. The money for such a setup, especially given the high costs of Exchange licenses, simply was not there.

So, Office 365 was conceived: An all-in-one cloud based system that combined high reliability, huge amounts of storage space, and a new version of Office which could do everything in previous versions and then some. Compared to Google’s deliberately stripped-down and simplified Apps offerings, Microsoft could target the large businesses that needed the billion-and-one features of Office.

One of the key elements of Office 365 is that it could be updated whenever and however Microsoft or the users need, without the seemingly endless cycle of license upgrades. This was illustrated last year, in 2013, when Office 365 got a free facelift and feature set expansion so it would stand beside the offline Office 2013. Basically, Officecloud computing 365 users get the benefits of new Office software upgrades, without having to pay extra for them.

Since then, changes have been largely incremental, and aimed at expanding the value of the service. Microsoft has significantly expanded the pricing at the low end, including options for single users, as well as expanding the default amount of storage offered to users. It’s now up to a terabyte of space, which will be plenty for most users.

Office 365: Robust, Resilient, And Growing

While Microsoft has made no announcement shutting down their offline Office suite, we suspect it’s only a matter of time at this point. Office 365 does everything the offline versions can, and more, at a vastly lower per-user cost than maintaining your own hardware and licenses onsite.

If you’re currently an Office user, there’s no better time to investigate a move towards Office 365. Contact Bi101 today to learn just how quick and easy a cloud migration can be!

Benefits of Cloud Computing System for Your Business


Pump Up Your Privacy With These Remarkable Email Security Tactics

email security tacticsAre you doing everything possible to keep your email secure? It goes far beyond simple privacy settings and passwords.

Email is becoming a doubled edged sword for many businesses. Its ubiquity means that it simply must be a part of everyday work life, but it offers significant security hazards for a company. Email can be a vector for direct attack, malware, espionage, or just a way for employees to make very costly mistakes.

Are you doing everything possible to keep your email secure? It goes far beyond simple privacy settings and passwords.

Email is becoming a doubled edged sword for many businesses. Its ubiquity means that it simply must be a part of everyday work life, but it offers significant security hazards for a company. Email can be a vector for direct attack, malware, espionage, or just a way for employees to make very costly mistakes.

As businesses expand their online offerings, it’s equally important email remains secure against possible threats.

Easy Tips For Keeping Your Email Secure & Private

1 – Hold a refresher on NPI policies.

Email security starts with your employees, especially because -statistically speaking- they are the most likely to cause a data breach. In fact, most data breaches on record are ultimately due to employee negligence, either emailing private data or putting it on an insecure personal mobile device.

Whatever it takes, get it into your coworkers’ heads that secure data never, ever goes into an unsecured email. That will do more good than most actual security measures.

2 – Use Passphrases

Hopefully, in a few more years we’ll have biometrics on everything and can quit using passwords. Until that happy day, pass phrases are a good compromise between security and memorability. A phrase, such as a single word, can be easily remembered and cracked. Look for something 8+ characters total with symbols, capitalization, lowercase, and numbers.

3 – Use Two-Factor Authentication

Many email providers now offer a more secure way of accessing mail, called two-factor authentication. This requires not just a password, but also a custom code that is generated at the timemail securitye of login. It’s transmitted to the user, usually via SMS, to a device only they would have. Other services may use a synchronized random-number dongle to generate the code.

While not foolproof, and slightly cumbersome, this greatly decreases the chances of malicious email access.

4 – Turn off automatic image display.

Everyone knows by now not to open attachments from strangers (right…?) but fewer know that the same “stranger danger” now comes from images as well. Some malware can be hidden inside inline images, and cause malicious code to launch when rendered. The easiest protection against this is turning off automatic image display in your email clients. Then, users simply click a button to show images on a per-email basis, when they know it’s from a trustworthy source.

Don’t Risk Your Email Security

It’s easy to take email for granted, but if anything, the security concerns attached to email continue to grow. Be certain your policies are up to date, and your employees are fully briefed on the vital importance of email security. It’s a true all-for-one situation, because even one lapse in judgment can cause huge damage to a company.

Need more information around email security or encryption? Bi101 is here to help discuss your options! As businesses expand their online offerings, it’s equally important email remains secure against possible threats.


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