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Desktop and endpoint administrators had some major Windows support questions to answer in 2014. Stay with Windows XP, despite its end of life? Is Windows 8.1 worth moving to after the mixed reviews for Windows 8? Or should enterprises stay on Windows 7 with Windows 10 fast approaching? What are the differences between Office 2013 and Office 365?
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There are no simple answers to these questions, since each organization has different needs and tolerances for user help and licensing complexity. Here's a baker's dozen of SearchEnterpriseDesktop's most popular desktop management articles of the past year to help you find your own answers as you look ahead to 2015.
13. Windows 8.1 features change the landscape for those used to Windows XP
For years, organizations have relied on Windows XP as their workhorse operating system. Now that Microsoft has ended its support of the OS, what do admins need to know about features in newer editions?
12. Five Sysinternals tools can ease desktop troubleshooting
11. Windows 8 gets a UI facelift with Windows 8.1
The touch-centric Metro user interface (UI) was intended to expand Microsoft's mobile device users, but it was the most criticized part of Windows 8. Rather than drop it altogether, Windows 8.1 includes new features, including a revised UI.
10. Businesses win in Office 2013-Office 365 match
The distinction between productivity suite versions may not be immediately obvious, and some IT shops have surprisingly decided to stay with Office 2013 rather than move to its cloud-based sibling because of user and technology concerns.
9. Speculation begins about Windows 10 Start menu and other features
As soon as IT experts and industry observers knew about Microsoft's next OS, they began making educated guesses about what it would cost, when it would come out and what features it would include. How did they do? Microsoft already surprised people by naming it Windows 10 instead of Windows 9.
8. Dell Software's CIO presents her integration strategy for 2014
In this Q&A, Carol Fawcett laid out her organization's goals and discussed the accelerated pace of IT innovation, Dell's acquisitions and its move to being a private company, and more.
7. The top five differences between Office 2013, Office 365
Management overhead might prompt some enterprises to choose Software as a Service and Office 365 over Office 2013, but note ownership models, the number of covered endpoints and your need for updates before deciding between Office editions.
6. Be aware of potential Office 2013 problems, workarounds before installing
Even a top software suite such as Office 2013 has flaws that give admins headaches. One way to avoid -- or at least minimize -- the pain is to identify potential problems and disable certain features.
5. Licensing could tip the scales when weighing Office 2013 vs. Office 365
Despite Office 2013's strong features, complex licensing rules and Microsoft's Enterprise Agreements might constrain organizations in their choice. Office 2013's lack of collaboration support could be another deciding factor.
4. Office 2013 includes capabilities you should know about
On the other hand, many enterprises will chose to migrate to Office 2013 because of its updated and new features, such as integration with Microsoft OneDrive.
3. Official Windows XP support ends, but OS usage lives on
Many IT shops have stuck with Windows XP or have delayed their migration to newer OSes -- and there are third-party options for security support. Remember to make backups and control access rights.
2. What does Windows 8.1 tell us about Windows 10?
In several ways, Windows 8.1 could be considered a preview of Microsoft's intentions for its next OS. Whether it's called Windows 9 or Windows 10, the Start menu and security features will likely be extensions of those in Windows 8.1.
1. Ten overlooked Windows command-prompt tricks
Many desktop admins already use the command prompt regularly for Windows support, but there are shortcuts that can aid in the execution of multiple commands and save time. They should work with multiple versions of Windows.
How to use Windows 8.1 kiosk mode with Modern apps
Get up to date on Windows 8 tools and terms
Organizations should review their options after the Windows XP end-of-life
Excel pivot tables are ideal for monitoring IT contracts
Five tips for desktop admins straddling Windows and Mac OS
Will there ever be one Windows management console to rule them all?
Consider these third-party Windows desktop management tools
FAQ: Endpoint management for desktop admins