The best free office software 2017

Divider

When you think of office software, Microsoft Office is probably the first one that springs to mind. This is hardly surprising as so many computers come with a copy of it pre-installed, but the bad news is that in many cases it is just a free trial and you’ll need to fork out for an Office 365 subscription to continue using it.

Few people can get by without a word processor, spreadsheet app, presentation tool or even all three, but what if you don’t fancy the idea of coughing up for your office software?

Thankfully, there’s now a superb selection of free office software available, and here we’ve rounded up the very best you can download today. The quality of these apps is truly impressive; you’ll never pay for office software again!

1. WPS Office Free

Well crafted, powerful and flexible, WPS Office is the best free office software

WPS Office Free may not be the most famous free office software, but after a recent overhaul we believe it’s the best.

In terms of looks (not that we’re entirely shallow, you understand), WPS Office Free is second to none. If you’ve used any recent version of Microsoft Office, you will feel immediately at home.

At its heart are the three main tools for words, presentations and spreadsheets (hence the name). WPS Office Free also offers some beautiful extra touches, particularly concerning PDFs. Not only is it possible to save documents created in WPS Office as PDFs, you can also convert from PDF to Word. Compatibility is a major feature of the suite, with each of the component program able to save in native Office formats, and the suite is available not only for Windows but also Linux and Android

There are lots of templates available to help you to get started with document creation, and just about the only annoyance with the suite are occasional ads for the premium version of the program. WPS Office Personal and Home adds tools for splitting and merging PDFs, and provides quick email support, but the free edition of the suite is brilliant and will be more than enough for most users.

Review and where to download: WPS Office Free

2. LibreOffice

A comprehensive free office suite with support for cloud storage services

If the LibreOffice software suite looks more than a little familiar, that’s because it’s virtually identical to Apache OpenOffice (below). In many ways it OpenOffice on steroids: it uses the same basic codebase, but it benefits from faster development and more frequent update. If getting bugs squashed and new features added is high on your priority list, LibreOffice should be near the top of your list.

Like OpenOffice, this free office suite has something of a retro look (but not quite to the same extent) and comprises more programs than you’d normally expect to find in an office suite – Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math, and Base.

Anyone who has shifted their life to the cloud will appreciate the support for cloud services such as Google Drive which can be accessed through the Remote Files feature, and there are scores of extensions available to add new capabilities to the suite. A highly recommended piece of software that puts Microsoft Office to the test.

Review and where to download: LibreOffice

Download OpenOffice free

3. Apache OpenOffice

This well established suite is a solid choice, with six programs rolled into one

Apache OpenOffice goes further than many other free office software suites by providing more than just the three main tools you would expect to find – in fact, there are no fewer than six programs: Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math and Base.

As an open source free office suite, Apache OpenOffice receives frequent updates, and in this regard it trumps Microsoft Office. It’s not only free of charge. It can, unlike some free software, be used for business as well as personal use.

The interface does look a little dated, so if using software that bears more than a passing resemblance to something from the 90s, Apache OpenOffice may not be for you. But, of course, looks are not everything.

What’s particularly impressive is the inclusion of a database in addition to a drawing tool and even a formula creation program – just about every possibility is covered by this impressive suite.

Review and where to download: Apache OpenOffice

Download WPS Office free

4. SoftMaker FreeOffice

A great-looking free office suite with ebook creation as a welcome extra

While SoftMaker FreeOffice is available completely free of charge, you do have to jump through the hoop of requesting a product key in order to download the office software.

When you’re up and running you’ll find that SoftMaker FreeOffice includes the more familiar three office programs – PlanMaker is the spreadsheet, TextMaker the word processor, and Presentations is the slideshow tool.

Things are great aesthetically, and there are some very neat touches such as the ability to not only save documents as PDFs, but also to export them as ebooks in ePub format.

In addition to the traditional, installable version of the software for Windows and Linux, there’s also a portable version available ready to pop onto a USB drive and move from computer to computer – and mobile users have an Android app too. Highly, highly recommended.

Review and where to download: SoftMaker FreeOffice

5. SSuite Office Premium HD+

A free suite with cross-platform support and a well curated selection of tools

Despite being billed as optimized for high definition displays, SSuite Office Premium HD+ looks a little unappealing. But if you can turn a blind eye to its less than perfect looks, you have a capable office suite on your hands .

If you happen to work with more than one operating system, there’s the added advantage that SSuite Office Premium HD+ is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. All three are pretty much identical, so you can flit between them easily.

The developer of this free office software suite has recognized that what most people are interested in is a word processor and a spreadsheet, so gone is the presentation tool you never use!

Plenty of other things have been wheeled in to fill the gap, including an image editor, video conferencing tool, a calendar and personal information manager, a web browser and even an envelope printer. All of the tools are pretty basic, and SSuite Office Premium HD+ isn’t going to win any awards, but it’s still worth taking a look if you’re after something a little different.

Download here: SSuite Office Premium HD+

What makes great free office software?

When you’re choosing a free office suite, one of the most important factors to consider is file compatibility. You’re likely to be sharing files with people using other tools – both free and paid – so you need programs that are compatible with as many formats as possible, including the most recent Microsoft Office file types.

It’s also important to think about the office software you use now, and how long it will take to adapt to a new interface. The idea of learning a new system might not bother you, but changing from ribbon-based Microsoft Office apps to a menu-heavy design might seem like a step backwards, and cause you to waste valuable time tracking down essential tools.

      

Top 5 best data visualisation tools of 2017

Data is an invaluable resource, but managing it is a tricky task for many businesses. Some larger companies have teams in place to conduct data analysis, but not every every firm has the means and money to do this – that’s where data visualisation tools become extremely useful.

With the right infrastructure in place, it’s possible to use big data to streamline business operations, improve internal efficiencies and perhaps most important of all, better understand your customers.

Data visualisation software is an excellent way to manage, present and make sense of complex business data. There are a ton of great tools out there that’ll help you prepare, analyse and visualise it all – and they’re suited for a variety of industries and uses. On this page, we’ve rounded up five of the best for your business.

Sisense is a really good option if you’re looking to identify data sources and integrate them into all your business operations. It’ll let you prepare, analyse and visualise every bit of data your company generates. This is an end-to-end solution and can maintain growing datasets coming from a variety of areas of your business.

Data is brought to life through a series of interactive dashboards built into the system. With these, you can explore data from almost any angle and granularity – letting you gather valuable insights quickly. The unique thing about this software is that it’s highly flexible, allowing you to beef it up with third-party plugins, and add customisations through JavaScript APIs.

Like the previous product Sisense, Adaptive Discovery provides you with a number of dashboards to keep on top of all the data your company creates. It offers a variety of data visualisation techniques, including waterfall, funnel, dial, histogram, radar and charts.

The system also comes with advanced intelligence built in, capable of delivering analysis based on your company forecast and budget. This is handy if you want to avoid having to work out complex equations and formulas yourself – just let the software handle everything.

There’s a big emphasis on reporting too. Not only does the software provide you with a complete overview of your data and finances, but it also gives you exception and variance reporting, period-on-period averages, linear regressions, trends and control charts.

As a business owner or professional, you probably find yourself creating presentations containing various visual elements for important meetings, or maybe just personal reference. And while you can create graphs and tables within software like Microsoft Office, there are tools made specifically for this purpose.

Visme is a good example. It lets you turn your business content and data into engaging presentations, infographics, charts, widgets and videos. And what’s great is that if you’re not happy with a stock template, you have the option to edit it to your tastes and needs.

There are a ton of templates available, catering for areas such as business, health, education, science, marketing and non-profit. You also have the ability to make your graphics interactive by adding buttons and links, and they can be turned into files and published online. Furthermore, there’s the option to work individually or as a team with the software, too.

If there’s one area that creates a lot of data within businesses, it’s marketing. Digital marketing campaigns are all about spotting customer trends, and without the right software, you can easily end up missing out on big opportunities.

TapClicks aims to change this. It’s a digital marketing and analytics platform targeted mainly at media companies, digital agencies and enterprises. The software offers a central, unified dashboard where you can keep up-to-date with all your marketing data. You also get access to a library full of pre-made visualisations and widgets, so you can tweak the system to suit your needs better.

Data is useless if you can’t do anything with it. Using TapClicks, you can export to email, Word, Excel and PDF to share with colleagues and engage in further analysis. There are some useful integrations too; you have the ability to transfer data from popular cloud services such as Google Drive and Dropbox.

Most data visualisation services offer dashboards, and that’s also the case with Grow. They’ve been built to combine data from hundreds of sources, including databases, spreadsheets and SaaS applications.

It’s possible to implement dashboards for every department or team in your organisation, and use the information gleaned to implement new team objectives and strategic aims. Grow is a good option for bigger companies with a number of teams or departments, and rather handily you can try out a free demo before making the final decision to buy.

      

Microsoft cloud strength highlights fourth quarter results

Commercial cloud annualized revenue run rate exceeds $18.9 billion

REDMOND, Wash. — July 20, 2017 — Microsoft Corp. today announced the following results for the quarter ended June 30, 2017:

  • Revenue was $23.3 billion GAAP, and $24.7 billion non-GAAP
  • Operating income was $5.3 billion GAAP, and $7.0 billion non-GAAP
  • Net income was $6.5 billion GAAP, and $7.7 billion non-GAAP
  • Diluted earnings per share was $0.83 GAAP, and $0.98 non-GAAP

“Innovation across our cloud platforms drove strong results this quarter,” said Satya Nadella, chief executive officer at Microsoft, “Customers are looking to Microsoft and our thriving partner ecosystem to accelerate their own digital transformations and to unlock new opportunity in this era of intelligent cloud and intelligent edge.”

The following table reconciles our financial results reported in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”) to non-GAAP financial results. Microsoft has provided this non-GAAP financial information to aid investors in better understanding the company’s performance. Additional information regarding our non-GAAP definition is provided below. The non-GAAP financial measures presented in this release should not be considered as a substitute for, or superior to, the measures of financial performance prepared in accordance with GAAP. All growth comparisons relate to the corresponding period in the last fiscal year.

Three Months Ended June 30,
($ in millions, except per share amounts) Revenue Operating Income Net Income Diluted Earnings per Share
2016 As Reported (GAAP) $20,614 $3,080 $3,122 $0.39
Net Impact from Windows 10 Revenue Deferrals 2,027 2,027 1,466 0.19
Impairment and Restructuring Expenses 1,110 895 0.11
2016 As Adjusted (non-GAAP) $22,641 $6,217 $5,483 $0.69
2017 As Reported (GAAP) $23,317 $5,330 $6,513 $0.83
Net Impact from Windows 10 Revenue Deferrals 1,383 1,383 909 0.12
Impairment and Restructuring Expenses 306 243 0.03
2017 As Adjusted (non-GAAP) $24,700 $7,019 $7,665 $0.98
Percentage Change Y/Y (GAAP) 13% 73% 109% 112%
Percentage Change Y/Y (non-GAAP) 9% 13% 40% 42%
Percentage Change Y/Y (non-GAAP) Constant Currency 10% 16% 42% 43%

The current quarter effective tax rate was (17)% an (6)% in GAAP and non-GAAP, respectively. The tax rates reflect a $1.8 billion impact related to the utilization of prior years’ losses from Microsoft’s phone business that were not deductible in the years incurred. As a result of this tax item, earnings per share for the quarter increased by $0.23.

Microsoft returned $4.6 billion to shareholders in the form of share repurchases and dividends in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2017.

“We delivered a strong finish to the year with 30% growth in commercial bookings this quarter,” said Amy Hood, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Microsoft. “We will continue to invest in key areas that drive future growth for Microsoft and our customers.”

Revenue in Productivity and Business Processes was $8.4 billion and increased 21% (up 23% in constant currency), with the following business highlights:

  • Office commercial products and cloud services revenue increased 5% (up 6% in constant currency) driven by Office 365 commercial revenue growth of 43% (up 44% in constant currency)
  • Office consumer products and cloud services revenue increased 13% (up 13% in constant currency) and Office 365 consumer subscribers increased to 27.0 million
  • Dynamics products and cloud services revenue increased 7% (up 9% in constant currency) driven by Dynamics 365 revenue growth of 74% (up 75% in constant currency)
  • LinkedIn contributed revenue of $1.1 billion during the quarter

Revenue in Intelligent Cloud was $7.4 billion and increased 11% (up 12% in constant currency), with the following business highlights:

  • Server products and cloud services revenue increased 15% (up 16% in constant currency) driven by Azure revenue growth of 97% (up 98% in constant currency)
  • Enterprise Services revenue decreased 3% (down 1% in constant currency) with declines in custom support agreements offset by growth in Premier Support Services

Revenue in More Personal Computing was $8.8 billion and decreased 2% (down 1% in constant currency) driven primarily by lower phone revenue, with the following business highlights:

  • Windows OEM revenue increased 1% (up 1% in constant currency), slightly ahead of the overall PC market
  • Windows commercial products and cloud services revenue increased 8% (up 8% in constant currency) driven by annuity revenue growth
  • Surface revenue decreased 2% (down 1% in constant currency) mainly due to product lifecycle transitions
  • Search advertising revenue excluding traffic acquisition costs increased 10% (up 11% in constant currency) driven by higher revenue per search and search volume
  • Gaming revenue increased 3% (up 4% in constant currency) as strength in Xbox software and services offset lower hardware revenue

Fiscal Year 2017 Results

Microsoft Corp. today announced the following results for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2017:

  • Revenue was $90.0 billion GAAP, and $96.7 billion non-GAAP
  • Operating income was $22.3 billion GAAP, and $29.3 billion non-GAAP
  • Net income was $21.2 billion GAAP, and $25.9 billion non-GAAP
  • Diluted earnings per share was $2.71 GAAP, and $3.31 non-GAAP

The following table reconciles our financial results reported in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”) to non-GAAP financial results. All growth comparisons relate to the corresponding period in the last fiscal year.

Twelve Months Ended June 30,
($ in millions, except per share amounts) Revenue Operating Income Net Income Diluted Earnings per Share
2016 As Reported (GAAP) $85,320 $20,182 $16,798 $2.10
Net Impact from Windows 10 Revenue Deferrals 6,643 6,643 4,635 0.58
Impairment and Restructuring Expenses 1,110 895 0.11
2016 As Adjusted (non-GAAP) $91,963 $27,935 $22,328 $2.79
2017 As Reported (GAAP) $89,950 $22,326 $21,204 $2.71
Net Impact from Windows 10 Revenue Deferrals 6,707 6,707 4,437 0.57
Impairment and Restructuring Expenses 306 243 0.03
2017 As Adjusted (non-GAAP) $96,657 $29,339 $25,884 $3.31
Percentage Change Y/Y (GAAP) 5% 11% 26% 29%
Percentage Change Y/Y (non-GAAP) 5% 5% 16% 19%

The current year effective tax rate was 8% and 14% in GAAP and non-GAAP, respectively. The tax rates reflect a $1.8 billion impact related to the utilization of prior years’ losses from Microsoft’s phone business that were not deductible in the years incurred. As a result of this tax item, earnings per share for the year increased by $0.23.

Business Outlook

Microsoft will provide forward-looking guidance in connection with this quarterly earnings announcement on its earnings conference call and webcast.

Webcast Details

Satya Nadella, chief executive officer, Amy Hood, executive vice president and chief financial officer, Frank Brod, chief accounting officer, John Seethoff, deputy general counsel and corporate secretary, and Chris Suh, general manager of Investor Relations, will host a conference call and webcast at 2:30 p.m. Pacific time (5:30 p.m. Eastern time) today to discuss details of the company’s performance for the quarter and certain forward-looking information. The session may be accessed at http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/investor. The webcast will be available for replay through the close of business on July 20, 2018.

“As Adjusted” Financial Results and non-GAAP Measures

During fiscal year 2017 and fiscal year 2016, GAAP revenue, operating income, net income, and diluted earnings per share include the net impact from Windows 10 revenue deferrals. During fiscal year 2017 and fiscal year 2016, GAAP operating income, net income, and diluted earnings per share include restructuring expenses. During fiscal year 2016, GAAP operating income, net income, and diluted earnings per share also include impairment expenses. These items are defined below. In addition to these financial results reported in accordance with GAAP, Microsoft has provided certain non-GAAP financial information to aid investors in better understanding the company’s performance. Presenting these non-GAAP measures gives additional insight into operational performance and helps clarify trends affecting the company’s business. For comparability of reporting, management considers this information in conjunction with GAAP amounts in evaluating business performance.

Net Impact from Windows 10 Revenue Deferrals. With respect to our non-GAAP measures related to Windows 10 revenue, we believe these measures bridge investor information and minimize potential confusion during the brief period between the time Windows 10 revenue recognition moved from upfront to ratable, and the adoption of the new revenue standard, when Windows 10 will again be recognized predominantly upfront. The net change in Windows 10 revenue from period to period is indicative of the net change in revenue we expect from adoption of the new revenue standard.

Non-GAAP Definitions

Net Impact from Windows 10 Revenue Deferrals. Microsoft recorded net revenue deferrals of $1.4 billion during the three months ended June 30, 2017 and net revenue deferrals of $6.7 billion during the twelve months ended June 30, 2017, related to Windows 10. Microsoft recorded net revenue deferrals of $2.0 billion during the three months ended June 30, 2016 and net revenue deferrals of $6.6 billion during the twelve months ended June 30, 2016, related to Windows 10.

With the launch of Windows 10 in July 2015, Windows 10 customers receive future versions and updates at no additional charge. Under current revenue recognition accounting guidance, when standalone software is sold with future upgrade rights, revenue must be deferred over the life of the computing device on which it is installed. This is different from prior versions of Windows, which were sold without upgrade rights, where all revenue from original equipment manufacturer (“OEM”) customers was recognized at the time of billing, i.e., upfront.

When Microsoft adopts the new revenue standard, predominantly all Windows OEM revenue will be recognized at the time of billing, which is similar to the revenue recognition for prior versions of Windows. Microsoft reflects the recognition of Windows 10 revenue at the time of billing in “As Adjusted (non-GAAP)” revenue to provide comparability during the short period where Windows 10 will be recognized over the estimated life of a device, i.e., ratably, rather than at the time of billing.

Impairment and Restructuring Expenses. During the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2017, Microsoft recorded $306 million of restructuring charges primarily related to its sales and marketing restructuring plan. During the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2016, Microsoft recorded restructuring and related impairment expenses of $1.1 billion, including $630 million of asset impairment charges which reflected the performance of its phone business, and $480 million of restructuring charges primarily related to its previously announced phone business restructuring plans.

New Revenue Standard

In May 2014, the Financial Accounting Standards Board issued a new standard related to revenue recognition. We elected to early adopt the standard effective July 1, 2017, using the full retrospective method, which will require us to restate each prior reporting period presented.

The most significant impact of the standard relates to our accounting for revenue from Windows 10 licensing as previously described. Additionally, for certain multi-year commercial software subscriptions that include both distinct software licenses and Software Assurance, we will recognize license revenue at the time of contract execution rather than over the subscription period. Due to the complexity of certain of our commercial license subscription contracts, the actual revenue recognition treatment required under the standard will depend on contract-specific terms and in some instances may vary from recognition at the time of billing. Revenue recognition related to our hardware, cloud offerings including Office 365, LinkedIn, and professional services will remain substantially unchanged.

We expect to share more information on adoption of the new standard in early August 2017.

Constant Currency

Microsoft presents constant currency information to provide a non-GAAP framework for assessing how our underlying businesses performed excluding the effect of foreign currency rate fluctuations. To present this information, current and comparative prior period non-GAAP results for entities reporting in currencies other than United States dollars are converted into United States dollars using the average exchange rates from the comparative period rather than the actual exchange rates in effect during the respective periods. All growth comparisons relate to the corresponding period in the last fiscal year.

Financial Performance Constant Currency Reconciliation

Three Months Ended June 30,
($ in millions, except per share amounts) Revenue Operating Income Net Income Diluted Earnings per Share
2016 As Reported (GAAP) $20,614 $3,080 $3,122 $0.39
2016 As Adjusted (non-GAAP) $22,641 $6,217 $5,483 $0.69
2017 As Reported (GAAP) $23,317 $5,330 $6,513 $0.83
2017 As Adjusted (non-GAAP) $24,700 $7,019 $7,665 $0.98
Percentage Change Y/Y (GAAP) 13% 73% 109% 112%
Percentage Change Y/Y (non-GAAP) 9% 13% 40% 42%
Constant Currency Impact $(256) $(183) $(116) $(0.01)
Percentage Change Y/Y (non-GAAP) Constant Currency 10% 16% 42% 43%

Segment Revenue Constant Currency Reconciliation

Three Months Ended June 30,
($ in millions) Productivity and Business Processes Intelligent Cloud More Personal Computing
2016 As Reported (GAAP) $6,970 $6,711 $8,960
2017 As Reported (GAAP) $8,446 $7,434 $8,820
Percentage Change Y/Y (GAAP) 21% 11% (2)%
Constant Currency Impact $(98) $(91) $(67)
Percentage Change Y/Y (non-GAAP) Constant Currency 23% 12% (1)%

Selected Product and Service Revenue Constant Currency Reconciliation

Three Months Ended June 30, 2017
Percentage Change Y/Y (GAAP) Constant Currency Impact Percentage Change Y/Y (non-GAAP) Constant Currency
Office commercial products and cloud services 5% 1% 6%
Office 365 commercial 43% 1% 44%
Office consumer products and cloud services 13% 0% 13%
Dynamics products and cloud services 7% 2% 9%
Dynamics 365 74% 1% 75%
Server products and cloud services 15% 1% 16%
Azure 97% 1% 98%
Enterprise Services (3)% 2% (1)%
Windows OEM 1% 0% 1%
Windows commercial products and cloud services 8% 0% 8%
Surface (2)% 1% (1)%
Search advertising excluding traffic acquisition costs 10% 1% 11%
Gaming 3% 1% 4%

Commercial Cloud Annualized Revenue Run Rate

Commercial cloud annualized revenue run rate is calculated by taking revenue in the final month of the quarter multiplied by twelve for Office 365 commercial, Azure, Dynamics 365, and other cloud properties.

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) is the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world and its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

Forward-Looking Statements

Statements in this release that are “forward-looking statements” are based on current expectations and assumptions that are subject to risks and uncertainties. Actual results could differ materially because of factors such as:

  • intense competition in all of Microsoft’s markets;
  • increasing focus on services presents execution and competitive risks;
  • significant investments in new products and services that may not be profitable;
  • acquisitions, joint ventures, and strategic alliances may have an adverse effect on our business;
  • impairment of goodwill or amortizable intangible assets causing a significant charge to earnings;
  • Microsoft’s continued ability to protect and earn revenues from its intellectual property rights;
  • claims that Microsoft has infringed the intellectual property rights of others;
  • the possibility of unauthorized disclosure of significant portions of Microsoft’s source code;
  • cyber-attacks and security vulnerabilities in Microsoft products and services that could reduce revenue or lead to liability;
  • disclosure of personal data that could cause liability and harm to Microsoft’s reputation;
  • outages, data losses, and disruptions of our online services if we fail to maintain an adequate operations infrastructure;
  • government litigation and regulation that may limit how Microsoft designs and markets its products;
  • potential liability under trade protection and anti-corruption laws resulting from our international operations;
  • laws and regulations relating to the handling of personal data may impede the adoption of our services or result in increased costs, legal claims, or fines against us;
  • Microsoft’s ability to attract and retain talented employees;
  • adverse results in legal disputes;
  • unanticipated tax liabilities;
  • Microsoft’s hardware and software products may experience quality or supply problems;
  • exposure to increased economic and operational uncertainties from operating a global business, including the effects of foreign currency exchange;
  • catastrophic events or geo-political conditions may disrupt our business; and
  • adverse economic or market conditions may harm our business.

For more information about risks and uncertainties associated with Microsoft’s business, please refer to the “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and “Risk Factors” sections of Microsoft’s SEC filings, including, but not limited to, its annual report on Form 10-K and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, copies of which may be obtained by contacting Microsoft’s Investor Relations department at (800) 285-7772 or at Microsoft’s Investor Relations website at http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/investor.

All information in this release is as of July 20, 2017. The company undertakes no duty to update any forward-looking statement to conform the statement to actual results or changes in the company’s expectations.

For more information, press only:

Rapid Response Team, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, (503) 443-7070, rrt@waggeneredstrom.com

For more information, financial analysts and investors only:

Chris Suh, general manager, Investor Relations, (425) 706-4400

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://www.microsoft.com/news. Web links, telephone numbers, and titles were correct at time of publication, but may since have changed. Shareholder and financial information, as well as today’s 2:30 p.m. Pacific time conference call with investors and analysts, is available at http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/investor.

The post Microsoft cloud strength highlights fourth quarter results appeared first on News Center.

      

The 50 best productivity apps for mobile devices in 2017

With the advances made in mobile technology over the last few years and greater reliance on remote working, many businesses use mobile devices like smartphones and tablets to help them in managing their operations. Generally speaking, the days of relying on a PC to do everything are over – you can do it all from apps on your iPhone, iPad or Android.

When you’re running about in meetings all day, have hundreds of emails to read, and must meet tight deadlines, the attraction of mobile is undeniable. Apps, in particular, are changing the way we live and work in so many different ways.

And if you download the right apps to fit your business needs, then you can easily improve productivity. There’s an app for almost every task and area, from accounting to product management. In this article, we’ve highlighted the very best business productivity apps – and in some cases web-based tools which you can use on your mobile – that are currently available.

Image Credit: ymgerman/iStock

There are a ton of web conferencing and collaboration apps out there, but they aren’t always mobile-friendly. Enter Join.me, an online meeting tool that’s easy to set up and can be used from any device – there’s a web version which means you don’t have to download anything if you don’t want to. It provides free screen sharing and unlimited videoconferencing. There’s a handy whiteboard feature as well, letting everyone contribute ideas virtually. The app is available on iPhone, iPad and Android.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

When you have so many things to do and not enough time to play with, you can easily become overwhelmed and fall behind. Gyst is the app that wants you to stay organised and get more done. It consolidates texts, contacts, calendars and to-do lists into one place. Because of this, you don’t need to keep dipping into different apps and it will help you stay on top of things. You can also use the software to prioritise text messages, schedule meetings and communicate with your colleagues.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Basecamp is a veteran piece of project management software in the business world, having been around for over a decade. Features include the ability to keep and track client feedback, chat with your colleagues, set up work-related reminders, praise co-workers and give them tasks to complete, and share documents. Like Gyst, you’re also able to create to-do lists, although you can easily pre-order them based on their priority and relevance.

An internal message board plays a big role in the app too. With it, you can post announcements, proposals and ideas. You can sign up and get 30 days’ use for free, but beyond that you’ll have to pay – and it isn’t cheap.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: rom $99 (around £75) per month

Diary clashes are annoying but pretty common in the business world. This is where Doodle comes into the picture. It’s an app that helps you streamline meetings and stay productive. How does it work? You sign in, set up an event and suggest times to your colleagues. They then choose the times that work for them, and the app tries to find the best slot for everyone. What’s great is that your colleagues don’t even need to be signed up to the app in order to participate.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Trello is another great app worth checking out if you have a busy life with your work or business commitments. Aimed at helping you to get things done and stay organised, the app lets you create boards for all the projects you’re working on. You can work on these individually or add colleagues so they’re kept up-to-date with the tasks they’re undertaking. As well as this, you’re able to add to-do lists on boards, assign tasks, comment on items, upload files and videos, and attach files. It’s free to use, although you have the option to upgrade for added functionality.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

You could spend a good deal of cash on a package like Microsoft Office, or you could stick with Google Drive and pay nothing. Drive offers you a full suite of word processing, database and presentation applications. The great thing about them is that they’re cloud-based, so you can work on documents and files from any device – be it a laptop, smartphone or tablet. Everything is saved as you left it, and you have the option to view revisions.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

The market for communication apps is quite fragmented, but when it comes to keeping up-to-date with your colleagues and in-work teams, Slack is a no-brainer. It offers real-time messaging, and you can share files in one-to-one and group conversations. The app is known for its powerful search and archiving functionalities, so you’ll always be able to find past files and conversations easily.

And there are also integrations with apps and services such as Dropbox, Asana, Google Drive, Twitter, Zendesk and more. Slack syncs across all devices, from smartphones to computers, and it’s free with certain limitations (which you can rid yourself of if you upgrade to a paid subscription).

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Peakon is a web platform with an iOS app dedicated to maximising productivity within companies. It provides automated employee feedback and measures engagement to help firms create happier, more sustainable working environments. Sounds good, right? But you’re probably wondering how it actually works.

That’s pretty simple to explain. Peakon constantly asks you questions to build a coherent, realistic analysis of how you’re feeling at your company. While you have to pay for a basic subscription, you can have a free 30-day trial to test the service out (no credit card details needed).

Platforms: iOS

Price: From £2.60 ($3.50) per user per month

Omnifocus claims to be a PC-grade, in-depth task management solution that you can use on your iPhone or iPad. While it costs £30 (a 14-day trial is available), the app offers flexible viewing options, location awareness and on-the-fly task entry features to help you get through a busy day. You can assign tasks based on location, people and energy level to accomplish jobs. Every task or piece of work you add to the app shows up in the iPhone’s Notification Center, so you don’t have to worry about missing deadlines.

Platforms: iOS

Price: $39.99 (around £30)

If you feel unmotivated, stressed or unwell, it’s likely your work will suffer. And in an ideal world, that’s something you’d like to avoid. Fortunately, online platform Nudjed is on a mission to boost employee health. It collects data across key areas of health to help employers build a picture of how their staff are feeling. Using this information, they can then step in and develop work-based health programmes so all employees are happy and thriving. The company was set up in 2013 by Welsh designer and entrepreneur Warren Fauvel.

Platforms: Web only

Price: Varies

Scoro is a worthy end-to-end work management solution. Available on the web or iOS devices, it allows professionals and businesses to control their entire workflow from one place. The tool also aims to streamline work and eliminate unnecessary processes that may affect productivity. Scoro’s features include calendars, task and project management, quoting and billing, enterprise-level reporting and a real-time dashboard. While it costs to subscribe to Scoro, there is a free 14-day trial available.

Platforms: iOS

Price: From £15 ($22)

A simple pen and paper is always a great way to stay productive, and this aptly named app digitises the process. With Pen and Paper you can create handwritten notes and documents on your trusty smartphone or tablet. You draw with your finger or a stylus, and can doodle away if you wish and easily pull off tricks like resizing, adding text boxes or creating diagrams. The app works with Dropbox too, so you can import and annotate PDF documents and other files.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: £2.99 ($2.99)

If you deal with a ton of social media feeds at work, then you ought to have a look at Buffer. It’s one of the best tools you can get for scheduling posts on sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. The platform is easy to use, too. You simply link your company accounts to one email, and you’ll be able to push out tweets and status updates in a matter of seconds. There are apps for iOS and Android, although you can use Buffer on the web too. An individual account with one social profile is free, but if you have multiple profiles or team members who want to use the service, you’ll need to pay for a subscription (from $10 a month).

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Evernote has been around for a good few years and is one of the safest bets when it comes to using apps to boost productivity. It offers a variety of note-taking tools so you can change the way you work on and organise your personal and professional projects. You can write, analyse and store ideas in the form of notes, notebooks, checklists and to-do lists. Notes can be taken in a plethora of formats, including text, sketches, photos, audio, web clippings, PDFs and more.

The app syncs across all your devices, so you never have to worry about losing your precious notes and documents. It’s free to use, although there’s the option to upgrade to a pro version with more features.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

When it comes to working on projects with a large team, things can get pretty hectic. Allocating tasks ends up taking forever, and soon everyone’s confused. The solution? DropTask. It offers a vibrant, colourful interface that delivers an enjoyable but effective task management experience.

The main feature here is a customisable workflow board, where team members can allocate tasks and check what they’re expected to do. You can invite up to five colleagues to work on tasks in real-time, and you can assign items under multiple categories. Like many of the other apps listed in this article, DropTask is cloud-based and syncs across devices.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

It’s easy to fall behind when you have so much work to do, and it doesn’t help when there are so many distractions to deal with. If you suffer with these sort of issues, Be Focused Pro could help you. This iOS app lets you focus on your work and get things done by splitting individual tasks into intervals, separated by small breaks. This, the creators claim, will help you retain motivation while you work. As well as being able to create and configure tasks, you can also track your progress throughout the week, month or year.

Platforms: iOS

Price: £4.99 ($4.99)

One of the banes of running a business is having to deal with time and expense sheets. Unless you’re willing to shell out for an accountant, this is something you’re going to have to tackle yourself. But Harvest makes the task a lot simpler. The app is a way for you to track time, log expenses and manage invoices on-the-go.

You can use the app to send invoices to clients and track when they’ve paid, add, view and edit time entries, take photos of receipts and upload them, monitor mileage, and much more besides. There is a basic free plan but it restricts the number of clients and projects available, so you’ll need to fork out for a paid subscription ($12 per user per month) if you want to unlock those limits.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Are you a business owner? Then you’ll understand the importance of knowing how your employees are feeling. After all, if they’re not happy at your firm, then the chances are they’re going to underperform – or go elsewhere. TinyPulse is an app that lets you get to know your staff, giving you the ability to set them questions and analyse their feedback. Using this data, you can then make changes if they’re needed.

You can also share virtual suggestions with your team, ensuring they’re always included in strategic decision-making. And hopefully the result of all this will be a happier, more democratic working environment. You can get a free trial to test the system out, although you’ll need to contact the company for details of pricing plans when it comes to the full service.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Varies

Bria is a business-grade communication app available on iOS and Android. It creates a SIP-based softphone client using Wi-Fi or a cellular data network that can make and receive calls over the net. The service uses the phone’s existing contact list and has been designed to facilitate easy, effective communication management. There’s an intuitive interface that accommodates multiple calls, and functionality includes the ability to swap, merge and split calls, plus you can perform attended and unattended transfers. You needn’t worry about security either, as it boasts built-in audio encryption.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: £7.99 ($7.99)

There’s certainly no shortage of to-do list apps out there, but equally there’s no denying that Wunderlist is one of the best. The app allows you to create as many task lists as you want and share them with your colleagues. They sync across devices, so you’ll always have them to hand. Note that the app is free, but there’s a pro version that’ll cost you a few quid a year. You can delegate tasks, set deadlines, add notes, create reminders and split items into sub-tasks – and the interface is easy-to-use, and looks good, too.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

When you have an incredibly busy home and work life, it’s easy to come across great articles or videos online but not have the time to enjoy them. Pocket lets you save items like videos, articles and e-books so you can access them when you have a spare few minutes at some point in the future. It’s a great way to stay organised too. Depending on the version you have, you can create tags to keep everything neat and tidy, or listen to articles with text-to-speech. There’s unlimited storage on offer as well.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

As they say, time is money, and you can easily waste both by spending most of the day staring at social media feeds and watching videos on Facebook. RescueTime aims to get you to change your ways and avoid bad working habits. It analyses the apps and websites you view the most, and breaks them down into a list so that you know where your time is going. The idea is you can then use this information to set productivity goals. The app is free, but the pro version lets you go a step further by blocking specific sites and setting up notifications.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Toggl is similar to RescueTime in that it wants to help you better utilise your time at work and stay productive. It lets you track multiple projects and clients to build a picture of your daily activities. With this information, you can then view graphs and timesheets, which is extremely handy if you work on a ‘per hour’ basis. All members of a team can use the app and split items into different categories to avoid confusion. The basic plan is free and caters for teams of five members or fewer, but if you need more than this, you’ll have to pay a subscription from $9 a month for the pro version or better.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Asana is another well-known business app. If you’re not using it already, then you probably should be. It’s like Trello (which we’ve already mentioned) and will help you stay on top of things in general, but it’s a lot more text-centric. You can set up tasks, to-do lists, reminders and requests about pretty much anything, and you can comment on items and send images within the app. There’s functionality that lets you track progress, too, and you’re able to communicate with staff directly.

Asana works across multiple devices, including smartphones, tablets and computers. It’s free for teams of up to 15 members, but beyond that you’ll need to stump up for a premium subscription.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

If you like the idea of having a communications app like Slack but need something a little cheaper when it comes to paid-for options, you’ll want to have a look at HipChat. It may not be as complex or well-known as Slack, but HipChat boasts a free service for unlimited users which offers group chat and file sharing. Upgrade to HipChat Plus for a couple of dollars a month, and you also get group video chat, screen sharing, and unlimited file sharing and storage.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging apps available, although it’s not just for personal use. It’s also a handy communication tool for businesses, allowing you to communicate with colleagues in real-time. Using your Wi-Fi connection, it lets you send and receive text messages, calls, images, photos, videos and voice messages for free. You can also set up and participate in group chats, which is handy for team meetings and delegating tasks.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Freelancers are always looking for more work – and when it comes to that quest, Konsus could be a big help. It’s an on-demand freelancer platform based within the Slack app (which we covered in a previous slide). The app assigns projects to top-talent sole traders based on their skills and availability. For example, a user could request edits to a PowerPoint presentation or Word document, expecting to get it back by the next morning. There’s a team of project managers too, responsible for vetting freelancers and ensuring projects are completed to the brief.

Platforms: Slack Add-on

Price: Depends on project

Unless you’re the next Einstein or have loads of research time on your hands, it can be pretty impossible to work out the most complex equations. This is where Wolfram Alpha can help – using a vast collection of algorithms and data, it can produce answers and generate reports for almost any question, not just limited to maths but covering a whole range of topics. The app isn’t free, though, and it’ll set you back £2.99. You also have the option to pay a monthly fee and get added capabilities, should you need them.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: £2.99 ($2.99)

It’s always a good idea to have a PDF reader at your disposal, and Adobe is arguably the best out there. The Adobe Acrobat Reader app, which you can get on both Android and iOS for free, lets you edit and add comments to PDFs. If you have an Adobe account, you can benefit from even more features. For instance, you can convert PDFs into various different formats and store them in the cloud. There’s the option of connecting the app to Dropbox too, and if you have an iPad Pro, you can use the Apple Pencil to annotate documents.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Not all businesses and sole traders have the funds to splash out on accountants, although keeping everything tracked and in order is essential. Wave, a free web-based accountancy platform complete with mobile apps, has been designed for small businesses, individuals and contractors. Using it, you can track your expenses, send and manage invoices, scan receipts, get expert accounting reports and more – and it doesn’t even cost a penny. There are various apps available for different functions on iOS (and one Android app – Receipts by Wave), although note that you can’t get the Payroll app outside of the US or Canada.

Platforms: iOS

Price: Free

LinkedIn is like Marmite – you either love or hate it. However, if you’re a business owner or professional, it’s worth creating an account on the platform. Widely accepted as the world’s leading social media site for pros, it lets you connect with colleagues, clients and other relevant contacts. What’s more, it’s a great way to show off your CV and to hunt for employment prospects. LinkedIn has a website, of course, alongside mobile apps for Android and iOS.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

If you have a hundred things to do at once, then effective time management is a must. Here’s one suggestion for a good app to help you out in this cause: Clear Timer. It’s a free timer and stopwatch solution to get you through the day. You can create as many custom timers as you want running simultaneously, which is handy if you have a stack of deadlines to meet on the same day. It sports an easy-to-use interface, a variety of sounds and skins, and timers you can start, pause and reset individually.

Platforms: iOS

Price: Free

While cloud-oriented services like Google Docs are disrupting the business world, it’s hard not to give credit to stalwart Microsoft Office. The package of office essentials has been a gold standard for years. But you can now get popular programs like Word, Excel and PowerPoint as mobile apps, letting you view and edit documents on a mobile device.

Platforms: Android, iOS and Windows Mobile

Price: Free (if you already have a Windows subscription already)

Sometimes it’s nice to have everything in one place. And, in terms of productivity tools, WPS Office offers just that. It’s an all-in-one app where you can create slideshows, presentations and documents. A number of well-known file formats are supported, including those from Microsoft Office. And you can get cloud support from services such as Google Drive and Dropbox.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

You’ve likely heard of MailChimp before (probably sponsoring a podcast), and if it’s something you’ve not tried yet, then you really should. It’s one of the best ways to manage complex mailing lists and create email campaigns, all for free. You can get the service on desktop, as well as mobile apps. With the Android and iOS apps, you’re able to manage your lists, add new subscribers, send campaigns you’ve drafted up on your computer, and view your reports. The service is free for up to 2,000 or fewer subscribers and 12,000 emails per month – any more than that and you’ll need to upgrade to a paid-for account.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Gmail is one of the most popular and advanced webmail services out there, and the mobile apps are great. Whether linked up to a Gmail account or a business one, you benefit from an easy-to-use app with loads of features. You can use up to five accounts at the same time, get search predictions, read emails with threaded conversations, respond to Google Calendar invites within the app, and send attachments.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

The chances are that you have several email accounts across different platforms, perhaps for a mixture of personal and business uses. If this is the case, you’ll want to download an email client so all your messages are in one place. Newton, formerly known as CloudMagic, is one to consider. Available for Android and iOS smartphones, smartwatches and tablets, it offers a variety of useful features. These include snooze, send later and undo send. The app works with Gmail, Exchange, Yahoo Mail, Outlook, iCloud, Google Apps, Office 365 and IMAP accounts. If you want to try the service out, there is a 14-day trial available.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: $49.99 (around £39.99) per year

Nowadays, with increased cybersecurity risks, it’s crucial that you use strong passwords for your personal and business accounts. But it can be a challenge creating and keeping track of multiple different passwords, particularly if they’re convoluted and obscure affairs (i.e. strong). LastPass generates secure passwords suitable for business uses and stores them at the same time, all within one app. It also boasts browser functionality, letting you fill in forms and login details automatically without having to go through a separate service like those provided in Safari or Chrome.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Getting your finances in order is probably one of the most important considerations when it comes to running a business, for obvious reasons. Expensify makes expense management easier. It captures your receipts, tracks your mileage and other outgoings, and creates complex financial reports. There’s also a function that, if you’re working in a financial department, lets you easily submit reports to your boss. The free account has certain limits – a maximum of 10 free SmartScans per month, for example – and if you want to go beyond that, then you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan from $5 a month.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

If you work in a big city and don’t have access to your own car, you no doubt use the bus, tube, or hire a taxi. But Uber will help you save time and money. The app allows you to organise an affordable ride within a few minutes, without having to make reservations or wait in a taxi line. Uber is already available in dozens of UK and US cities.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Do you own an Apple device? Then Apple Pay is a worthy business essential which makes paying for things much easier thanks to NFC technology. And with biometric login using the fingerprint scanner, you know you’re the only person who can make payments with the service. Most major banks support Apple Pay, as well as merchants. Apple has also formed partnerships with the likes of Visa, MasterCard and Amex.

Platforms: iOS

Price: Free

Genius Scan offers a handy facility that lets you create quality PDF documents by taking a photo. Free to download and use, you can generate your own PDFs through your phone’s camera. There are a plethora of options and settings to help you get the best results, including lighting and camera position. You can send your creations via SMS, email or a messaging app, and export them to services like Google Drive, Dropbox or Evernote.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

If you’re working in an international role and are constantly traveling, then you likely come into contact with a load of different languages. Duolingo will help you learn them, which should hopefully impress your overseas contacts. Taking a flashcard approach, it covers languages like Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Irish, Dutch, Danish, Swedish and English. And you can do all this for free.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Many businesspeople have to book meetings abroad regularly, and travelling isn’t cheap. But Hopper tries to take some of the financial sting out of making trips aboard, by analysing billions of flights on a daily basis to predict how prices will change, advising you whether to buy or wait a bit. The app constantly monitors the best deals and notifies the user when they should book a trip. You could save up to 40% on your next plane ticket.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

In order to maintain a productive lifestyle, you need to stay healthy, which can be achieved by getting lots of exercise and eating good food. MyFitnessPal helps you get in shape while you battle it out with a busy working and home life. It’s one of the world’s most advanced calorie and dieting apps, with a database of over 5,000,000 foods. To check an item of food or drink, you just scan it using your phone’s camera, and information is pulled from the database. It also hooks up with devices and services such as Fitbit, Apple Health, Jawbone Up, Runkeeper, MapMyFitness and Strava.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Google Chrome has been the world’s most popular web browser for a good while, so it makes a lot of sense to have it on your Android or iOS device. The mobile app is fast, easy-to-use and full of features. For starters, it syncs across all your devices, saving your web searches and bookmarks. And you can make searches using your voice, open as many tabs as you want, use Incognito mode to surf the web without your browsing history being recorded, and read web pages in any language.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Unless you’re a maths whiz, understanding and working out the most complex equations or sums can be an unpleasant experience. PhotoMath is a life-saver, letting you solve problems and produce answers just by taking a photo – it does all the hard work for you, and even shows its working step-by-step. Of course, it’s a bit of a cheat, but it’s a handy one. You now have a way to divide restaurant bills without having to work a calculator or fry your brain.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

If you’re looking for a reliable cloud storage service, Dropbox has got your back. It lets you store and send photos, docs, videos and other files from any device. You can view your files even when you’re offline, and they’re always synced to all your different devices. There’s also the ability to create and edit Microsoft Office documents from your smartphone or tablet. The app is free, although you can get in-app purchases to boost the amount of storage, for example to 1TB (or even unlimited!) should you need plenty of space.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

You can’t really beat Skype if you’re looking for a videoconferencing tool – and it’s available on both Android and iOS tablets. The app is completely free and provides you with message, voice and video call capabilities. It’s perfect for business meetings because you can add up to 25 people to group calls. As well as this, you’re able to share photos, video messages, your location and emojis within chats. There’s even an app for the Apple Watch, letting you stay up-to-date with everyone while carrying as little as possible on your person.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Creating a mind map is a great way to remember and bring your ideas to life, which is an important part of keeping productive. MindNode is an iOS app built for that exact purpose. Get the app up and running, and you and your colleagues will be able to jot down ideas in no time. You can make the canvas larger, so there’s always room for more doodles, and you can also add photos into the mix. Once finished, you can export your creations or save them for next time.

Platforms: iOS

Price: $9.99

      

Forget ransomware – emails are what cybercriminals are really exploiting

Ransomware may have had a high profile in recent times, but cybercriminals are still extracting far more cash out of organisations via maliciously targeted business emails according to a new report from Cisco.

The Cisco 2017 Midyear Cybersecurity Report takes a close look at the current threat landscape, and found that business email compromise (BEC) made criminals a massive total of $5.3 billion (around £4 billion) over a three-year period (from October 2013 through to the end of 2016) according to figures from the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

Whereas ransomware victims were extorted to the tune of about $1 billion (around £765 million) throughout the whole of last year. Obviously that’s still a very sizeable sum of money, but if you average out the figures for the above period for exploits delivered by emails to staff members, that works out at around $1.63 billion (£1.25 billion) annually.

In the timeframe covered by IC3, there were 22,300 companies who fell prey to BEC incidents in the US alone.

These type of malicious emails are often well-crafted attacks involving social engineering and in-depth research on the company’s staff members, with the messages being designed to appear to be sent by someone high up the food chain like the chief executive, with an urgent demand to wire a payment (into the hands of the criminals, of course).

As Cisco notes, there is no malware content in these emails – nothing for even the most sophisticated network defence mechanisms to pick up – they simply aim to trick the receiver.

Education is the key

As ever, the best way to combat these threats is to educate staff members to be aware that these sort of scams exist, and the typical things to look out for, along with obvious countermeasures such as double-checking with the apparent sender that this is indeed a genuine message they’ve sent.

All this isn’t to say ransomware is not a threat, of course; it is indeed still a big problem as a billion dollar per year money-spinner, and as we’ve seen in recent times, major attacks like WannaCry have caused havoc.

Cisco observed that malicious parties are creating ransomware easily and quickly by using open source codebases which publicly release ransomware code for ‘educational’ purposes. Unfortunately, that code can then be tweaked to make new strains of ransomware.

Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) platforms also represent a swiftly growing phenomenon, with offerings such as ‘Satan’ that allow those with no programming chops to launch basic ransomware attacks if they give away a cut of their profits to the platform owner.

Malware is increasingly being seen as a business in its own right, sadly, with RaaS ‘providers’ offering services like the ability for users to track their own malware campaigns, and cybercriminals offering ‘helpdesk’ services to victims in order to facilitate payment of the demand.

      

Download of the day – Beacon

Beacon is a relaxing ‘endless runner’ game designed to help you wind down after a long day.

A white ball runs around a rotating, color-shifting möbius strip, and you can tap the space bar to make it jump. Each jump leaves a block on the strip, which you can pick up on your next lap for a speed boost.

If you accidentally run into the block rather than hopping onto or over it, you’ll be slowed down again. There’s no score or fail state to worry about though – just keep moving and jumping, and enjoy the relaxing music.

To start playing, download and extract the ZIP archive, then run the file Beacon.exe.

Download here: Beacon

Download of the Day is our pick of the best free software around – whether it’s useful, fun, or just plain silly. If you have any recommendations, please send them to downloads@techradar.com.

      

Broadband deal of the week: Return of the £150 Reward Card with BT Infinity fibre

It’s back! After a couple of months of us yearning, BT has reintroduced its hottest reward card offer. Sign up for BT Infinity fibre broadband by midnight on Thursday July 27 and you’ll be sent a pre-paid £150 Mastercard. That makes this the best superfast fibre broadband deal out there right now.

Infinity 1 costs £29.99 per month – anything less than £30pm for 52Mb speeds is A-OK in our book. And unlike its previous bumper cash card offers, BT hasn’t compensated by hiking up its activation fees this time. The upfront cost remains at £34.99, which accounts for set-up and delivery of the BT Smart Hub router.

If you need even more speed, then the £150 reward card is also available on BT Unlimited Infinity 2, which delivers speeds of up to 76Mb. The tariff rises to a rather lofty £49.99pm however. And if fibre isn’t yet available in your area, BT hasn’t forgotten about you. You’ll receive a £75 Reward Card with the 17Mb BT Unlimited Broadband, for which you’ll pay £26.99 a month after a £9.99 router delivery charge.

Deal of the week: BT Unlimited Infinity 1 fibre broadband

BT Unlimited Infinity 1 fibre broadband | 12 months | Up to 52Mb | Weekend calls | No TV | £34.99 upfront| £29.99pm
If you’re just coming to the end of your broadband contract or want to crank things up to superfast fibre, then this BT offer has come along at precisely the right time. 52Mb (6.5MB per second) is about 50% faster than most other providers’ entry-level fibre speeds. And that almighty £150 Reward Card makes the whole deal the equivalent of less than £250 for the year. Bargain! Total cost of 12 months £394.87

View this BT Infinity broadband deal of the week

What is a BT Reward Card?

The Reward Card that BT sends out is a pre-paid credit card that you can use anywhere that accepts Mastercard. In short, that’s around a million shops, cafes and restaurants around the world, so you shouldn’t find it difficult to find places to spend, spend, spend.

It’s an old-fashioned chip and pin card, rather than contactless. But do make sure that you claim your Reward Card within three months of signing up to BT, otherwise you’ll lose out on all that cash.

Best broadband deals

If you’re still um-ing and ah-ing over whether to go for one of these BT broadband offers, or if you want to see what other TV or phone options there are, then check out our BT broadband deals page – our bespoke price comparison table will help you choose, with packages that include unlimited calls and BT Sports subscriptions. And if you want still more internet alternatives, then head on over to our main broadband deals comparison page.

      

Differentz Ways of Fun

close
Facebook Iconfacebook like buttonTwitter Icontwitter follow buttonBlog