Managed Desktop Project


The Managed Desktop project aims to standardise and improve the way in which PCs are supported across the University in order to give users a better and more efficient IT experience, fewer faults, and quicker service. During 2013 significant improvements are being made to the way IT Services will manage desktop PCs and laptops, including upgrades and alterations to the software used. The changes will deliver clear benefits and in some cases are necessary as old versions of software cease to be supported, for example Microsoft Office 2003 and Windows XP.

The University has approximately 10,000 desktop PCs and laptops managed by IT Services. The planned improvements include:

  • Enhancing shared working by ensuring we use a consistent set of software
  • Improving performance times of computers
  • Improving the delivery of future upgrades to computers
  • Less time spent on building, deploying and updating PCs
  • Less time lost while PCs are installed or replaced
  • Less time spent on fixing faults, because of fewer errors and reduced variation
  • Increase in information security because software is patched more frequently, and PCs are handled in a more standard way
  • Removal of the end-of-life Windows XP.
  • Sustainability: IT staff can move more easily between zones without having to learn and adopt different procedures

Why are we getting rid of Windows XP?

Microsoft will cease support for XP on 8 April 2014. After that date there will be no security updates and so XP systems will be increasingly vulnerable to being infected or compromised. In addition, other software suppliers will stop supporting software on XP.

Windows 7 is more reliable and cheaper to support. An IDC white paper, Mitigating Risk: Why Sticking with Windows XP is a Bad Idea, argues that supporting Windows XP costs five times as much as supporting Windows 7 ($870 (560) per PC per year for XP against $168 (108) per PC per year for Windows 7). XP users also suffer from greater downtime and lost productivity.

Who the Managed Desktop is for

The Managed Desktop is suitable for use by all staff, students and members of the University and is based on Windows 7. It is now being installed on nearly all new PCs and existing PCs are being upgraded.

Reasons to use the Managed Desktop

The Managed Desktop provides you with commonly used software, such as Microsoft Office and Google Chrome; access to a range of specialist teaching software; networked printers and filestore.

Advantages of the service

  • It is secure; the service is updated automatically as new antivirus and security patches are released.
  • By default, users do not have administrator rights to the PC; so there is no access to the areas of the computer typically targeted by viruses.
  • Personal data and settings are stored on the network; this is more secure and backed up every night.
  • Significantly, the service is easier for IT Services to support; problems can be more easily resolved by the IT Service Desk and zonal teams than was previously the case with unmanaged computer systems.
  • Staff and students have access to a wide range of centrally provided applications, as required by their role.

When not to use the Managed Desktop

The Managed Desktop will meet the needs of most regular users. However, it may be

  • you need software or hardware that will not work on the Managed Service
  • you require computers to run other operating systems.

Your zonal team can advise on what to do.

What has been done so far?

Stage 1 of the project concentrated on:

  • the setup of new PCs
  • the introduction of a software package to manage large groups of Windows PCs (SCCM: a systems management software product by Microsoft that provides remote control, patch management, software distribution, operating system deployment, network access protection, and hardware and software inventory)
  • standardisation of approaches to network administration, security and the configuration of user accounts.

What is happening now?

Stage 2 is concerned with:

  • the day to day management of PCs, and their eventual decommissioning and disposal.
  • upgrading to Windows 7 and the removal of Windows XP. Microsoft will no longer support Windows XP from April 2014. The University has thousands of Windows XP systems which will be have to upgraded to Windows 7 or replaced by new computers.
  • making elevated user rights available to those who need administrator privileges on their PC from time to time.
  • introducing a standard approach to keep software up to date across all PCs to make support easier and to lower the risk of security breaches and/or loss of data. This involves the deployment of new applications, updates, patches, etc. from a central point.
  • constructing collections of standard application software for each faculty and support services.
  • reviewing and updating the procedures for decommissioning and disposal of PCs to make sure this is done consistently and securely.

Some related changes you will also have seen:


Pilots and a phased deployment will be run to allow IT Services to respond flexibly to issues.

Support and communications

IT Services will be consulting with key groups and communicating with staff and students during the implementation process.

A range of documentation, advice and support is available to introduce the new services including:

To help provide ongoing communications with these developments we have a contact email address or alternatively use the on-line feedback form.