By Guy Clapperton

Each month we answer readers’ IT queries. We welcome questions
guy.clapperton@freshbusinessthinking.com

Q: A colleague from another company can get at his Microsoft Outlook through the Internet. Is there a setting so I can do the same?
Sue Trent, Derbyshire

A: It’s not so much a setting as a complete re-tooling of your system but if you would benefit from Microsoft Outlook Web View it can be worth looking into. You need Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 on which you can load multiple user versions of Outlook and then you can log on from any web browser. Unless you’re technically very skilled indeed, and your question suggests you might not be, you need to talk to a consultant and then look at the business case.

Q: I want to upgrade my computers but I want to do so in a ‘green’ manner. How do I go about it?
John Smith, Newcastle

A: Your natural instinct is probably that using your old computers must be greener than replacing them with new but this needn’t be the case. New PCs, particularly those with Microsoft Vista, have power management systems to reduce their carbon impact and operate in a more environmentally-friendly manner. The main issue is going to be disposing of the older systems. Here a good idea is redistributing them rather than sending them to landfill; is there a local charity that might be able to take them from you and continue to use them? Remember, though, that you’ll need to take software off if you’re going to install it on your new systems as you’ll presumably be paying for only one license instead of two. Speaking of which…

Q: I’m starting up in business and a mate has offered me some software. It might be pirated but it works — is there a reason I should care?
Anonymous

A: Yes, which is presumably why you’ve opted to be anonymous. Pirated software is first and foremost an infringement of copyright, and by not paying for it you’re effectively putting the price up for the rest of us. Moral and legal issues aside (oh, and you can be handed a cease and desist notice if you continue to use it) there are a number of reasons to go legit:

• Whenever a security patch is available to plug a newly-discovered vulnerability in software, owners of the legitimate article will be allowed to download it. You stay vulnerable.

• Upgrades will be available to people who’ve paid for legit software — that won’t apply to you.

• Consider also reputation management — what if it gets out that you’re using hooky software? Your customers might well care and be concerned that you might be spreading viruses around.

There are a number of ways of getting hold of pirated software, not all of which involve a deliberate action. Some PC repairers take a computer back to its initial state using their own Windows disks over and over again, for example, leaving the owner with an illegitimate copy. If you believe you’ve been affected it’s worth contacting the initial supplier to find out how to obtain a proper license as soon as possible.

www.clapperton.co.uk