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13 top tips on Windows support from 2014

The past year marked the transition between versions of Microsoft software. Look back at our menu of 2014 Office and Windows support tips.

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?

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

Microsoft's Sysinternals suite includes numerous free tools. This photo story takes a look at Process Monitor, Autoruns and more ways to improve your Windows support.

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.

Next Steps

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

Dig Deeper on Windows 8 and 8.1

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Did you find any of these tips helpful? What would you like us to cover in the coming year?
Some helpful info for those considering moving away from WinXP or Win7. Some still will stay with what they are comfortable with regardless.