Desktop Computing Hardware Standards for Penn: 1995-96 Annual Update
Office of the Vice Provost for Information Systems & Computing
Important Note: this document remains on the computing web for archival purposes only - much of the standards and contact information in this document is obsolete.
Information Systems & Computing, in cooperation with the Penn community, now annually publishes minimum standards for new desktop computers. The standards help hold training and support costs in check and make it possible for people across campus to work together. They clarify buying decisions and help in planning equipment life cycles. For "supported" desktops ISC provides specific training, documentation, and hardware and software problem diagnosis.
Macintosh and Windows computers are the supported standards at Penn. Most of the revised standard configurations are "freshness dated," with ISC support guaranteed until July 1999. ISC does not recommend mixing Macintosh and Windows computers within an office or workgroup, where a single standard is much easier to support.
Desktop systems purchased under the previous standards will continue to be supported until July 1998. ISC will continue to review desktop standards each year in light of University needs and industry changes. As new desktop standards are issued, they too will specify support guarantees.
There are two levels of standards: desktops for general-purpose computing (like e-mail, word processors and spreadsheets), and desktops for new administrative systems (like those used for Project Cornerstone). The standards for new administrative systems are somewhat higher than the standards for general-purpose computing. A machine that can access Cornerstone systems can handle general office functions, but the reverse is not necessarily true. Research and instructional computing may require more specialized machines.
The Computer Connection offers configurations that match the standards below. In addition, buyers with limited budgets may choose to trade off various components of a desktop system depending on specific needs: for example, memory versus additional hard disk space versus a larger monitor. Remember, it is easier to add additional memory or peripherals later, but some components (like a smaller monitor) cannot be effectively upgraded.
If your school or department is considering major changes or investments, ISC strongly recommends a consultation to weigh pros and cons in today's rapidly changing environment. Contact Noam Arzt, ISC Director of Information Technology Architecture (arzt at isc.upenn.edu; 898-3029). Up-to-date standards and additional information are available via World Wide Web (URL: http://www.upenn.edu/computing/arch/standards/ under "Information Technology Architecture and Standards").
Windows 95 Note: ISC is not supporting Windows 95 as initially released in August, 1995. Generally, you should not install Windows 95 until either ISC or your local support provider can provide appropriate assistance and support. Windows 95 is not installed on computers purchased in the Fall 1995 Back-to-School Sale.
Desktop standards for general-purpose computing
If you are buying a new machine, here are the minimum standards, to be supported by ISC until July 1999. Buying the best computer you can afford usually pays off in extra years of service from the machine, so you may prefer to buy a more powerful configuration:
Desktop systems for Cornerstone administrative systems
Cornerstone systems will evolve over time with various delivery dates beginning in Fiscal Year 1995-1996 and others beginning in Fiscal Year 1996-1997. If you are purchasing a computer at this time and expect to use any of the Cornerstone Systems (general ledger, purchasing, acconts payable, data warehouse and budget planning) in the future, buy the recommended standard. If you will be an initial user of the Data Warehouse or Budget Planning, then you must be at standard this year to use these systems. Buying the best computer you can afford usually pays off in extra years of service from the machine, so you may prefer to buy a more powerful configuration.
If you are buying a new Macintosh primarily for Penn's new administrative systems, wait as long as possible to make sure that Macintosh user interfaces to those systems are available as expected. Note that Macintosh computers with DOS co-processors do not satisfy MS-Windows standards.
Desktop standards for existing general-purpose computing
The following minimum configurations for general-purpose office computing represent the general departmental purchase recommendations from three years ago. They will be supported by ISC for one more year only. Transition from these configurations as soon as possible to the new purchase standards:
Appendix: Laptop Guidelines
Generally, laptop computers cost more than similarly functioning desktop computers and lag at least a generation behind in technology. If you are planning to purchase a laptop to use as a primary desktop workstation it should comply with the appropriate General-purpose or Cornerstone minimum standard configurations.
Other than some slight differences in peripherals, support for laptop computers is generally no different than for desktop computers. The following guidelines represent ISC's recommendations for laptop computer configurations:
Information Systems and Computing
University of Pennsylvania
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