~ INTRODUCTION ~
This evening, we hosted a roundtable discussion on the topic of Upgrading Windows. Corey Nelson, I.T. Manager at ECSO, and Francis Fischer, I.T. Manager at Naumes, led the discussion, and were joined by all present.
This Tech Talk was an opportunity to compare the Upgrade Process in a smaller I.T. Environment (hosting about 70 PCs on their network) that manages international marketing, sales, production and distribution of pears with a larger I.T. Environment (hosting more than 500 machines on their network) engaged in response-time-sensitive telecommunication interactions for Jackson and Josephine counties.
~ BACKGROUND ~
Corey launched the roundtable discussion about upgrading Windows 7 to Windows 10. He explained that, right now, they’re at about 425 out of 500 machines that have been upgraded. They have about 66 machines left to do, and most of that delay is because they need end users to replace their old hardware that won’t run Windows 10.
~ KEEPING UP ~
One of the challenges they ran into with Windows 10 was not simply upgrading it, but keeping it upgraded to the latest version of Windows 10. Most people don’t know that the past five versions of Windows 10 are no longer supported. The first version of Windows 10 came out in July, 2015 and there have been six versions since then. And, the seventh version (19.03) will be released within the next few weeks.
What they found was that they would upgrade the machine once and then forget about it and maybe it hadn’t had Windows Updates applied and then the machine’s Windows 10 version was outdated. They’re struggling to keep track of that and they actually have some pretty cool tools to do that.
Q: For somebody like you, do you have some users that are on this rev and others that are on that rev … why does that happen? You don’t have enough people? Or…
Corey: For us, having multiple Windows 10 versions is primarily because most of my mobiles are not directly-connected to my network. So I’ve got about 300 machines that are out in the field, connected via cellular modems, and a lot of them are only connected during night time, when workers can’t get the Windows Updates because they don’t have a 3G Air Card. With most of them, it’s a physical problem.
Q: Does anyone else in the room have that problem?
Francis: Yes. It’s basically the same thing: laptops. We have users who have their laptops at home and the won’t turn them on for two months.
Q: So, it’s logistics—with users?
Francis: Yes. Regarding updates: the version designation format (e.g., 19.3) indicates the year and then the month the version is released. Based upon that format, it appears that new versions are usually released in March (Version n.03) and September (Version n.09).
~ AUTOMATED UPGRADES ~
Corey: But for upgrading Windows 7, I think there are two paths you can take: 1) Doing an in-place Windows 7 upgrade, which can be a quick-and-dirty way to upgrade, and it’s sometimes difficult because unless you write scripts and automate the whole thing, you’re going to have to touch each one individually.
~ PDQ DEPLOY ~
But I actually pushed out a script and did about 30 all at once; I did that with a program called PDQ Deploy. If you don’t use it, you might consider doing so because 1) it’s free, and 2) there’s both a deploy product and an inventory product available. There’s also an enterprise version that’s not free that gives you a lot more granular control and information, and allows you to push out updates in a more controlled manner. But the free version is so worth it to use. I use it to do all my inventory and to push out all my scripts.
~ UPGRADING VIA PDQ DEPLOY ~
The Enterprise Version of PDQ product is not expensive; it’s $500 for the enterprise version of the deploy product, and $500 for the enterprise version of the inventory product. Then you unlock everything. And, to do a PDQ script, all you do is mount the ISO (Disk Image File), put it on the network share somewhere, and then run a setup.exe\autoupgrade, set a couple of switches—and then wait 2 hours and all your machines will be updated.
The problem is: afterwards, you still have to do some tweaking: enable RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol), and some of these things can be done through group policy. Make sure .net 345 is installed. And some of this can also be tweaked during your install. There are Java exceptions, if you run Java. Small business apps might have to be reinstalled, if they’re proprietary. But the upgrade should go fairly smoothly, assuming you don’t have strange hardware; you might run into some problems with drivers but for the most part, drivers are going to migrate from Windows 7 to Windows 10 and most of them should work, depending on how old the hardware is. That’s not my recommendation for upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 10. My recommendation is doing a clean install; it’s always better.
Q: Do you agree with that, Francis?
Francis: Oh, I agree. It wastes time … but in the long run, it saves time. Your computer is going to run better after a fresh install. Back on Windows 95/98, every 6 months to a year, you would format your drive and start over. You would do a fresh install every 6 months to a year because your computer was running sluggish and had all kinds of corrupt files.
Gunnar: Still a good idea.
~ 50-MINUTE UPGRADES ~
Corey: What we’re finding is that we’re doing a fresh install on Windows 10 at least every 6 months because our systems are so critical that we want them to run as fast as possible and make sure they don’t have any problems. What we’ve done is, using that PDQ Deploy product, we’ve built a software install package that installs every single product that we use. We walk up to the computer, do a clean Windows 10 install, and then deploy every single product that we’re going to use, and that installs everything automatically. So, it’s a clean install of every product, and we can do that in about 50 minutes, from start to end.
Now we do have another deployment that we do for our staff with mobile data computers because those people come in and wait for them. Because they’re all the same hardware, we’re able to clone those. So almost all of them are the same model (Panasonic ToughBooks), for the most part, in the field. So what we do is we have a clone that we can do in about 50 minutes. So, we say, “go hang out on the dispatch floor for a few minutes” and we clone the entire Windows and application products, join it to the domain, test to make sure everything works, and off they go. I don’t like doing the clones because it’s not as good as a clean install but usually, for the time constraint, it works for us.
~ MALWARE ISSUES ~
Q: Have you run into any problems with people having malware on their systems?
Corey: We wipe them so often … we run Bit Defender software and then we have a pretty aggressive firewall that they have to go through for everything. We really don’t have a lot of problems with that—and we wipe them often.
~ SCHEDULING UPGRADES ~
But with this new version of 19.03, we’re getting ready to upgrade all our machines. We’ll wipe them all, redeploy the apps. On the dispatch side, it’s a little challenging because we have to do it live, so we have to schedule it as the dispatchers take their breaks or leave for the day; we can’t blow them all off at once. But it’s still something that we’re going to do.
We have 48 machines on the dispatch floor right now, not including our administrative positions. The dispatch positions are staffed 24 hours a day; the other positions are regular staff with regular shifts so they are easier to schedule. And, with PDQ Deploy, we’ll say, “we know you’re off at 5:00 on Friday, so we’ll schedule this for 6:00 on Friday and when you come back, it’s all done.”
~ MICROSOFT DEPLOYMENT TOOLKIT ~
The other product you can use to do software deployments from Windows 7 to Windows 10 is Microsoft Deployment Toolkit, and that’s a pretty powerful product. It’s another product you can download for free. It doesn’t have the same scripting possibilities that PDQ does because with PDQ we can use the Inventory product to grab a whole group of computers and deploy it via that toolkit. So we can say, OK, every computer that starts with the letter A, let’s deploy it from that. So, the Inventory product and the Deployment product work together. And, like I say, FREE! is a great price! Play with it; it’s so awesome!
One of the things it also does is keep all the Java, Adobe, Flash, everything all updated—automatically. As soon as the new version comes out, it automatically deploys that new version to all my machines. And, especially my machines that are only connected periodically, it’s continuously watching for those and once they connect, it automatically pushes the updates to those. It’s pretty slick.
~ CLONING VIS CLONEZILLA ~
On the cloning product I use, there’s a free product called Clonezilla that I use; it works great! It’s an open source product. It works awesome! You can actually have servers deployed using network deployment. We use SSDs; a couple of SSDs … plug them in because that’s the fastest way … using the SSD. You can build images, you can build disk-to-disk copies, so it’s a pretty slick product.
Q: Does it change the SID in the process?
Corey: No. You have to run the scripted one for the SID to be changed. We don’t. But you can run a script afterwards to change the SID (Security IDentifier); a unique identifier built-into Windows that every Windows computer has and it has to do with the User Account.
[Sort of like a MAC Address]
When we’re doing clean installs on our network, all of our data available on the local PCs is not stored on the local PCs. So we use Folder Redirection, which means that, when you log into this computer as User A, all of your data is actually stored on the server. You’ve got documents, music, pictures, desktop, and we use roaming profiles so, as they move around, their desktop is always the same—no matter which computer the user is at, it’s the same. But, more importantly, I can completely wipe that computer, reinstall it, and not have to worry about any of their data being on there … which is a challenge because everybody stores things in My Documents, or whatever, and now if you’re trying to do a clean install, you’re going to struggle with, I’ve got to back everything up and restore it. So, if you have the ability to store it on the server, that’s the way to go.
~ DISTRIBUTED FILE SYSTEMS ~
We also use DFS; Distributed File Systems. So, instead of storing it on a single server, we have three servers that provide the same file share; that way, I can take a single server off-line and it doesn’t affect any of their shares because DFS handles the transition to the available servers.
~ ACTIVATING WINDOWS ~
Some of the challenges we have with doing the automated deployment is activating Windows, especially if you don’t have a volume license key—then you have to manually activate Windows, or you have to use the Microsoft Deployment Took Kit to enter your key to automatically activate when you restart it because it’s got new hardware and, every time you have to re-activate it.
~ WINDOWS VOLUME ACTIVATION SERVER ~
We actually use a Windows Volume Activation Server in our environment, so you actually have a Windows Server that handles that. And, Microsoft can provide you a special Server Activation Key; basically, that Server Activation Key sits on that one server and it knows—through Microsoft—how many licenses you own and then, every five or ten will go out to Microsoft and authorize those licenses. It’s not doing it all the time; there’s a certain threshold that it must hit before it goes out and activates those. We do that with Office and our Windows Server licenses, our Windows 10 licenses and, of course, our Windows 7 licenses.
~ THE START BUTTON ~
The other thing we’ve struggled with when users move from Windows 7 to Windows 10 is the Start Button. We actually installed Classic Shell which is a Start Button Emulator and all our Windows 10 machines look just like Windows 7. So my users didn’t even know they moved from Windows 7 to Windows 10; they still think it’s Windows 7 because it looks the same. It doesn’t have that funky button like all the Windows 10 versions have. And that button has changed; it’s progressed in every version of Windows 10, so now we’re at somewhat more of a Start Button but with Classic Shell, they get the Classic Start Button so users don’t know what version they’re on. Unfortunately, he [the developer of the Classic Shell] is no longer developing that so we don’t know at what point that is going to stop working—up until 19.03.
Q: When you find those stealth upgrades, do you run into any problems with some apps not working on the new version?
Corey: What we ran into is: we had some proprietary apps that didn’t work well in Windows 7 to begin with, so we ended-up trying to virtualize them (put them in a virtual box.) We’ll build a virtual box and run an older version of Windows and run it that way. Or, I’ll write a custom app to replace it.
Q: And, this is for the Dispatchers?
Q: So, they’re sitting there trying to meet their 2-second response time and you’re sitting there writing code for them?
Corey: Yes. All the time. I make things work for them.
You’re so impressive!
The other thing I would recommend is: SSD Drives. If you do not have SSD Drives in your computers, install them. Windows 10 runs so much better with SSDs and, of course, bump-up the memory. We had a lot of machines that we were trying to upgrade to Windows 10 that still had spinning disks—especially laptops with those 5400 drives that were painfully slow—and just the other day, I was able to buy a 120 GB SSD for $17.00. So I bought ten of them. On New Egg.com.
Corey: Yes. I don’t know if this was a special deal or not, but the price is coming way down on these.
Francis: I just bought 256 GB SSDs for $50.00.
Corey: So the performance is there and the price is coming down. For 256, that’s fine for most desktop users—unless they have a lot of pictures.
Gunnar: Especially if they want separate storage.
Corey: Yes. And they can always use their old drives for secondary storage.
Francis: Everything’s on the server. That’s what we do, also.
~ NINITE ~
Corey: The other thing that I use, especially if I’m doing a single install, is the website called Ninite. That website will allow you, as a user, to quickly select any applications you want, hit one button and install them all. You know how, typically, when you do a new install, you install Java, and other apps … go to Google … go here … go there to install stuff. This product allows you to install everything all at once. So you simply select whatever you want, click Download and Install, and Go! So that’s a pretty cool product. PDQ will do that well, but you have to hit the server and push it. This product will pull it straight down.
~ APRIL FOOLS ~
Corey: I would like to say that I did prank all of Dispatch on Monday, April Fools’ Day … I Rick-Rolled the entire Dispatch Floor. [Essentially, it’s a trick where users click on a link expecting to see one thing and then they are directed to a video of something else.] I told the Dispatchers that I had created a new command for them that was going to search numerous databases and give them back live video. And they fell for it; they would go through the steps of searching for e.g., an arrest record and what pops up is a video of “Never Gonna Give You Up.” And they all fell for it. And, there are different shifts so, as the next shift comes in, you keep hearing the music video play so the next shift also fell for it. Some of them were embarrassed that they fell for it while others thought it was funny. I always play some sort of prank on them on April Fools’ Day.
Q: Did anyone play an April Fools’ Joke on you?
Corey: Not yet. I would think it would be fun if they did. One year, I had a mouse camera system that had a camera built-into the mouse. So I built this website where they would click on each different position and it would show a picture of the ceiling up above. All I did was go around and take pictures above each Dispatcher Pod with my cell phone and then I built this website that hosted all the static images. The Dispatchers would click on the different positions and keep looking around to see where the camera was. They’d move their mouse around and look up to see where the camera was because they thought it was live. That was hilarious!
Q: Francis, do you have some other experiences with upgrading to Windows 10? Or, April Fools’ Jokes?
Francis: I renamed all of the icons on my boss’s desk a couple of years ago; changed the icon and renamed it: My Computer was the Recycle Bin … everything you opened was wrong!
Corey: That’s good!
~ MEMORY ISSUES ~
Francis: Windows 10 … what’s the minimum memory you put in? 8 GB or 16 GB?
Corey: We started off with 4 GB, on our laptops.
Q: Can you run Windows on 4 GB?
Corey: Yes. We started off with 4 GB, even though they recommend 8 GB, but a lot of the agencies that we work for are responsible for paying for the upgrades and a lot of them wanted to wait until they bought a new computer. So we do have a few of them running Windows 10 with 4 GB and it sucks. But almost everything else is 8 GB, and then all our power users get 16 GB.
Francis: I have a minimum of 8 GB. I just bought ten new PCs, and the ten new ones all have 16 GB. So what I do is cycle them. All my computers will be less than eight years old by the end of next week. The executives are getting the computers I just bought. Then their computers, one of which is less than two years old and running Windows 7, gets upgraded to Windows 10 and passed along to someone else, whose computer gets passed along the line. I’ve been going through and putting in solid state drives, 8 GB of RAM. All of them are at least I5 and some of them are I7 CPUs, so they’re all set up for it. So I was kind of curious about that. We’re doing fresh installs.
Q: You don’t do any cloning or imaging?
Francis: No. We’ve got 70 computers. With 70 computers, and so many different models, trying to do that is not feasible.
~ SMALLER I.T. STAFF; BROADER REACH ~
Q: How many apps do you host besides the standard business apps? Any unusual stuff?
Francis: The main app we have is called Famous so we use Radmin for remote software. We have to install Radmin. We have to install Famous. Other than that, it’s all your standard software products.
Q: What are you processing? Order Entry? Inventory?
Francis: We grow pears. In another two months, we’ll have 1,200 – 1,500 employees. We drop down to as low as 100 employees and we ramp up to over 1,000.
Q: Do you compete with Harry & David?
Francis: No. H&D is trying to sell the gift baskets. We sell pears to Costco and Walmart. We sell semi-loads of pears.
Q: Wholesale Distribution? Is that a fair description of your business model?
Francis: Yeah. We will sell boxes to people, though. Primarily, we do entire containers. Thirty-percent of our pears are shipped out of the U.S.
Francis: To Canada, Mexico, Brazil.
Q: Do you ever go overseas?
Francis: Yeah. Actually, they grab some of the culls [Rejects; pears that are not ready for upscale consumers and have been culled from the pack.] Some countries look at those brown spots and are not bothered by it; in fact, they think it’s great.
Q: Your company has been around for how long?
Francis: WWII. They came home from the war and started the company.
Q: Do you have your own orchards? Or, do you buy from local pear orchards?
Francis: No. We have our own orchards. At the peak, Naumes had over 9,000 acres of orchards. They’ve actually reduced their holdings considerably; they sold-off a good portion of Washington and California orchards, so they’re now back to mostly the Rogue Valley. You know where the Talent Walmart was? [Now occupied by Cummins; formerly Brammo.] Across the freeway is Suncrest Orchard. [Roughly around I-5 Exit 21.] That’s 500 acres. We’re actually now opening up a tasting room there. So, we got into wine.
Q: Pear Wine?
Francis: Nope. Just regular grape wine. So, yes, I’ve been sampling the wine; it works. When we had California orchards, I had computers in the middle of the orchard. Literally. And I wondered how we were supposed to get an Internet connection there. So I was dealing with satellite; Hughes Net. Launch a remote session: you move your mouse and you click; nothing happens … click again. Miserable. At least now we all have good Internet connections.
~ THE LAST MICROSOFT OPERATING SYSTEM ~
Francis: I’m curious. Microsoft said that Windows 10 is going to be the last operating system they release.
Corey: In theory … yeah.
~ OPEN LICENSE ~
Francis: OK. What is Open License and what is Software Assurance?
Corey: That doesn’t make sense; you’re right.
Francis: Yeah. Open License says that you own that license forever.
Gunnar: Not with Windows 10; it’s a subscription.
Francis: If you buy Windows 10 Open License, you own it forever. Then they want to sell you Software Assurance which says, anytime there’s an upgrade, you get it included … But if you already bought Windows 10 and it’s the last one … if you go out and buy a Windows 10 license, they’re running $175 to $200, depending on who you go to … If you get one for $175, you could transfer your ~400 computers, you will never have to buy Windows again for the rest of your life.
Corey: That’s the theory … They’re going to get you on all the other licenses, don’t get me wrong.
Gunnar: And that’s separate from the OEM license, which is not transferrable.
Francis: Correct. And the Open License, you’re able to uninstall it from one computer and then install it on another computer—as many times as you want.
Corey: So the whole point of Software Assurance assuming that they’re not lying about Windows 10 being the last release… We don’t buy any Software Assurance.
Francis: I don’t, either. Some things I buy open license, some things I don’t. I buy OEM. We’re buying Office. We’re buying Office 2019, and we’re buying just OEM. So Microsoft hates us for that, but you’re actually able to move it up to five times. So if you have a computer and you’re buying and installing Office 2019, you can retire it from that computer and move the license over to another computer. Well, if you’re buying Office 2019, how many times are you going to move it before Office 2025 is out and you’re going to upgrade to Office 2025? Why pay the price for Open License if I’m able to move my license anyway?
Corey: Yeah. Open License does have some different licensing options. So we do all of the licenses for Office but that’s because we actually have Standard and then we have Pro Plus, and we have a couple of different versions of licensing that we buy. But you’re right, it might just be cheaper to do OEM; in some cases, we have done that.
Francis: For me, I’m just going through different things right now and it’s a pain in the butt. The problem with OEM is you have to register it to your email address on their website, and you only have 25 copies per email address—or, 25 licenses. That would bite you in the butt.
Corey: That’s why we don’t even bother with it.
Francis: And then, for activation, we get the keys that we can automatically activate the correct server and that’s different than OEM.
~ CPU PERFORMANCE: I5 VS. I7 ~
Q: I’ve got a hardware question for you: What performance difference do you notice between I5’s and I7’s, at roughly the same clock speed? Because, on paper, they look similar. I’ve never used an I5 but I’m wondering.
Francis: OK. Does it have hyper threading? Some do and some don’t. And, it started off that the I5’s were dual-core and the I7’s were quad-core. Where they’ve blurred the line is that some I5’s don’t have hyper threading. So it can be a quad-core; you get four cores. With an I7, you can get eight. In theory. Sort of.
Gunnar: Depending on what you’re running, you might have to turn off hyper threading because it actually runs slower.
Corey: It really depends on what you’re trying to do.
Francis: Some programs can only handle one CPU; one core. So, if you have a piece of software that’s written that can only handle one core …
Glen: … all you want is clock speed.
Francis: You want 4 GHz.
Corey: And, in some server cases, depending on how you’re licensed, you may only want one core.
Francis: I found an XP Laptop the other day; not connected to the network. It might not work, but we have an XP Box. And, that was actually one of the comments I wanted to make tonight. Why should you upgrade to Windows 10? Windows 7 is EOL in January. OK. When EOL happened for XP, McAfee, Norton, Kaspersky, everybody, quit making anti-virus that worked for XP; that’s going to happen, come January. Nothing’s going to be supported.
Corey: Not only anti-virus, any product out there.
Gunnar: Not that those anti-virus products are that effective anyway, to begin with.
Francis: You’re forced to upgrade. Nobody will hire programmers to keep writing anti-virus software for deprecated versions of the operating system. Everybody will upgrade by January, one way or another. And, the hard part is, when you buy a new computer, they charge you about $90 for Windows 10. If you buy a computer without an operating system, it’s about $90 cheaper. So, if they’re only charging you $90 for Windows 10…
Gunnar: Again, that’s usually an OEM version.
Francis: Yes; that’s not Open License.
Gunnar: If you’re buying it for an existing piece of hardware, it’s $200—or worse, if you go with the Enterprise Edition.
Q: Do you think Unix and other variants are part of why Microsoft is saying this will be the last version of Windows we ever sell? I mean, is that the pressure?
Francis: I don’t think that has anything to do with it.
Glen: I really have a hard time understanding why they would even say that. What’s the point?
Corey: I think their challenge was they had so many different versions in such a short period of time. We saw Windows 7, Windows 8 [Gunnar: which was a disaster!], and then we got Windows 10 and they decided, we’ll just keep adding features to it and basically, you’re getting a new version of Windows every 6 months, anyway.
Gunnar: And, they really want to go to the Subscription Model, like Office 365; that’s what they’re pushing for.
Corey: They are. Which, at some point, they’ll probably achieve.
Glen: That’s getting really annoying for apps and all kinds of software. For my personal use, I prefer to simply buy something and be done with it.
Corey: Yeah. Use it as long as you want. There are still people out there using Office 2010 and have no problem with it. It’s been running for 8 years.
Francis: No problem. I have it on my desk.
Corey: Yeah. Works great!
Francis: No, it doesn’t; it doesn’t play well with Exchange 2016.
Corey: Oh well, yeah. I was thinking Word and that type of thing. But you’re right. You have to use a Web app, I’m sure.
Francis: Nope. You open it and then you go get a cup of coffee and then it’s almost done loading.
Corey: We started deploying Server 2019, which is exactly the same as Server 2016. I’m not sure why we decided to do that.
Francis: It looks identical. Except now we have Cortana on our servers. Why do we need Cortana?
Gunnar: Especially if you’re running headless?
Corey: We’re not running most of them headless. But I guess you could do Command Line Cortana.
Raymond: I just switched everything from Windows to Linux, and I’m actually falling in love with Linux.
Corey: And, Microsoft is embracing Linux. They have a whole Linux sub-system you can deploy, built into Windows.
Gunnar: Kind of … But it’s not great. It kind of rides on the Unix sub-system they had. I can’t remember what they called that.
Corey: CGI Win or something?
Gunnar: Oh, no; that’s an open source project that’s really pretty good. Sig Win? Xwin?
Raymond: I use [Visual] Studio on Linux. It runs awesome.
Raymond: I’m learning it, more and more every day.
Francis: With a Linux-based system. OK. Earlier, you were having a conversation about CORE and Helix and TekManagement and MultiNet. If I want to go away, and I need somebody to fill-in and support me for a week while I’m on vacation…
Gunnar: You want to find a Linux Admin? Is that what you’re saying?
Corey: Yeah. CORE and one of those guys…you might be able to find one of them that does Linux. But it’s not going to be server-based … my guess is that it’s going to be desktop.
Gunnar: It should be. I mean, I use Linux almost exclusively—as my desktop—for other reasons. I don’t recommend it to anybody. It’s such a pain in the ass to get anything to work properly … especially new hardware … that you spend all your time searching forums and I can’t get my job done because I’m searching forums to fix some little annoying glitch.
Glen: 30 years ago, it was the same way, with Unix and Linux. I’m amazed that it’s still that way.
Gunnar: For quite a while there, Linux was actually pretty good—having device drivers for new hardware and having good support for new stuff—it’s just not there anymore. There’s a bug in the Linux Kernel that causes problems with AMD Processors when you’re doing virtualization, which will actually lock-up the machine. It’s a known bug that’s been there for at least five years and hasn’t been fixed; that’s kind of a clue as to the level of support Linux gets these days.
Gunnar: It’s a bunch of hobbyists. And, a lot of them are doing it for a college project … I’ll write a little app, based on this nifty little thing I learned … so most of it is crap.
Corey: It has its uses, though. Linux is powerful.
Gunnar: That’s the reason I use it. I don’t recommend it, though.
Corey: But, as far as getting support for it, they’ll probably laugh at you. And charge you a lot.
Francis: Yeah. I’ve had those support calls, too.
Corey: We have some applications that are Windows-specific. We couldn’t consider…I mean, we’ve got some server-based stuff that’s special.
Gunnar: You’ve got to run a business…can you find the apps for Linux that do all this stuff?
Francis: Open Office is free, isn’t it?
Gunnar: And, it’s fairly good.
Francis: OK. I won’t use it at my work, though. I figure it’s not worth the employees’ time, trying to learn how to use it.
Gunnar: Yeah. Same problem. Plus there are some compatibility issues like if you export a Power Point slide show that you made in Open Office and somebody opens it up and suddenly, all your connecting lines are missing. It’s not perfect.
Corey: Open Office has its uses. I deployed it on all my workstations out in the field because they just need a word processor that will do spell-check, and that’s it. And I didn’t want to buy a Microsoft License for every single one of them. So I deploy Open Office and they use it just to write narrative real quick and they copy/paste it, and that’s it. But this is a very specific use case. It’s not like they’re going to be doing their daily processing on this.
Gunnar: AbiWord runs on Windows and it’s much more light-weight than Open Office.
Corey: I’ll have to look into that product.
Raymond: There’s also Libre.
Gunnar: Open Office is Java-based, which is part of its downfall.
Glen: I use the word processor, but if you do any formatting at all, it’s not compatible with Microsoft Word. There are a lot of little annoying glitches.
Corey: Exactly. It’s certainly not Office, for sure. And it doesn’t have the Exchange part of it, either. In an office environment, it’s not too useful. But you’ve got to pony-up the Microsoft licensing fees. Their new server licensing fees suck. We’ve got to pay a lot of money for Server 2019.
Francis: Yeah. Per core.
Corey: It’s like 8 cores, minimum.
Glen: So, do the virtual cores count?
Corey: Yup. They got away from the other license where you just buy a server and go. Now, the licensing is by core. All that changed with virtualization. Because, before virtualization, you were just going to stick it on a box and go; you didn’t need a license.
Gunnar: That’s what Oracle has been doing forever; per core.
Francis: Scott, the owner of TekManagement used to work for Oracle, back when. He is actually a Unix Guru.
Gunnar: Back when it was Sun Microsystems?
Francis: Yeah. So we used to have a Unix Server and he was the only person in the Valley who could work on it.
Karen: So how did you come to work at Naumes?
Francis: Kelly used to work at Pacific Office Automation.
Karen: Who’s Kelly?
Francis: The conversation we were just having about CORE.
Corey: Kelly Imaging, the guy who started Kelly Imaging.
Karen: Oh, that guy!
Francis: Kelly used to work for Pacific Office Automation. He left Pacific Office Automation to start his own business, doing copier repair. I took Kelly’s job at Pacific Office Automation and worked there for a couple of years. Then I went to the boss and said “I want more money.” And he said, “Well then, get your A+.” I got my A+ and went back to him and again asked for more money. He said, “Well, get your N+.” OK, fine. So, after getting multiple certificates, and computer training, Naumes was one of my customers. And, copiers are nothing but a printer and a scanner that connect up to a network. So, back in 2007, I was doing a good portion of their network support. And, the I.T. Manager there was an Irrigation Designer. He needed a CAD computer and, since he had the first computer in the company, he became the I.T. Manager. All of a sudden I was coming in there, and I knew more than he did, so he was calling me about questions that didn’t relate to the copier. Finally, he said he’d like to hire me. So I started at Naumes. The first year, I told them I wanted some training and they sent me to my MCSE School which was a nightmare. That was out at RCC; that was a $10,000 class consisting of 32 units in three months. 36 units is a full year’s worth of credits. So I did about a year’s worth of units in three months. The class was from noon to 9:00 at night. Five days a week. But I did my MCSE in three months.
I left Naumes a few years later and went to Big R. So I was the I.T. Manager at Big R. From Big R, when they got sold to Coastal, I went to Touch Point Networks for a couple of years, trying to build them up to compete with CORE and Helix, and we could never get traction. I told the owner that the only way they were going to get traction was if they underbid everybody. I’m an unknown. Why would anybody hire Touch Point to do their networking when it’s a one-man I.T. Department? You’ve got to get two or three customers so I can hire a help desk staff and we can build. After two years there, we still hadn’t landed a single customer. Then Naumes offered me my old job back and I took it. I’ve gone full-circle.
Corey: I started off in copier repair, in high school. Worked for Canon repairing photo copiers. But that was before they were scanners; they were analog in those days.
Francis: I started in the analog days…back in 2000. I left there in 2007. But there was nobody in Medford that knew anything about computers. We had five repair guys and none of them knew anything about networking.
Corey: It was all analog back then, so you didn’t have to know anything about computers. They barely had lasers in some of them…they were still a series of mirrors that moved back and forth.
Karen: But you’ve got that hardware background.
Corey: Oh, yeah. And troubleshooting; that was the most important part with copiers. You definitely have to know where to look.
Karen to Gunnar: What about you? How did you start your own business?
Gunnar: I was working for a company as a military contractor doing support for the Air Force, and the guy I was sitting next to … we got along well and we did a lot of field trips together and, over the years, we figured out what we wanted to do and jumped off and did it. And, in the process, we got back to some of his contacts and added more people to the business, and some of them already had stuff going on, and brought in business contacts.
Francis then left for his Date Night with his wife.
Karen: Thank you, Francis, for sharing your experience with us. You’re invited to come back next First Thursday.
Thanks to everyone for sharing their experiences with Upgrading Windows.
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