Business is about making connections, and the cloud offers new ways to communicate with clients, colleagues, and partners, and make deeper and richer connections.
Windows® 7 Professional works in conjunction with many cloud-based resources that allow you to collaborate more easily. For example, Office Web Apps, a free cloud service, lets you create Microsoft Office files online and do basic editing of them, even when working from a computer that doesn't have Office installed. You can create a group so that people you are working with can easily see files, updates, and a calendar, all in one place.
With Windows Live Mesh, another free cloud service, you set up online folders that sync all your PCs and keep them up to date. This means you no longer have to email documents or carry them on a flash drive. Even better, you and your colleagues can access and work with important documents, knowing you all have the latest version.
"The Office Web Apps give us the freedom to share documents within the company," says Héctor Barbosa, Head of Systems and Communication at Barrabés, a technology services firm. "Before, for example, you had to depend on users having Office installed on their computer and receiving their mail, etc. Now you can use a web page to grant access to certain people, or for co-authoring."
Tools like this, available from the cloud, opens up all sorts of new ways to collaborate. With Windows Messenger, another free cloud tool, you can chat in high-def video and share photos without disturbing the chat, giving you the kind of collaboration abilities that were until recently only available to large companies.
The Twin Valley School District deployed these kinds of tools first to teachers and then to eleventh- and twelfth-grade students at the high school. Within a few months, all 87 faculty members and more than 800 students were using the tools for e-mail and other services, including file storage and sharing with Microsoft Office Live Workspace and Windows Live SkyDrive, and instant messaging with Windows Live Messenger.
Ken Gibson, IT Director at the Twin Valley School District, says the cloud helped change the inefficient systems where teachers were e-mailing documents to themselves. "Many teachers were storing about a quarter of all their documents in their inboxes, which was a waste of IT resources," Gibson says. "An even greater waste of IT resources was the two hours we spent each week helping them update and organize these folders."
The cloud allows SMBs to do more with less, and improve their ability to collaborate because of access to the latest tools. "Before, I had resources working the equivalent of one half-time person on managing the messaging and collaboration servers," says Chris Pyle, president of Champion Solutions Group, an IT services firm. "Now I can redirect those resources to more productive, strategic tasks that make us money."
Benchmarking: You Can't Change What You Can’t Measure
Troubleshooting for Everyone
A Better "Step" in Employee Training
Time to Upgrade...Or Not?
5 Steps to Work-Life Balance
Multimedia Tours: Offering "360-Degree" Views of Your Company
Make Your Desktop Your Own with Gadgets
Building a (Profitable) Social Media Strategy
Optimizing the "New" Networking
Blogging: The Front Door of Social Media
Streamline Your Social Media
Small Businesses Get Cloudy
Create Through the Cloud
Connect Through the Cloud
React Through the Cloud
A Systematic Approach to Upgrading
The Keys to Network Flexibility
Keep Data at Your Command
A Technology Strategy Built to Scale
Pack Your (Laptop) Bag
Stay Safe at Hotspots
Pick Your Mobile Device
Keys to Better Communication from the Road
Projection Made Easy
Visualize Your Way to a Great Presentation
Pretty as a PowerPoint Picture
9 Ways to Create a Video Conferencing Hit
Get Going on the Go
What If You Lose Your Laptop?
Troubleshooting from the Road
Let Your PC Protect Itself
Backup without the Bother
Tales From the (En)Crypt(Tions)
Alerts When—and How—You Want Them
7 Elements of an Optimal Home Office
Put Your PC (or Laptop) on the Clock
Networking Everything and the Keys to Office Automation
Balancing Work and Life—Taking Time Out for Fun