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WINDOWS at the University of Waterloo

IST supports almost three thousand office desktops and laptops running the Windows operating system at the University of Waterloo, and over 600 Windows servers. A common IST customized operating system image is used, which on workstations, includes the latest supported version of Microsoft Office. Software is made available and delivered via SCCM (see “IST Managed PCs” on the left) and every attempt is made to make each PC an easily-replaceable “appliance”. This means that all critical data is redirected to external servers, including application customizations and preferences. By joining PC names to active directory security groups, they automatically become part of software collections that SCCM uses to deliver software and keep it up-to-date and secure.

The operating system supported is Windows 10, although we still have legacy operating systems around because of ever-fewer legacy applications. Clients are encouraged to run legacy applications in our virtual machine VDI environment as secondary Windows workstations or virtual applications. Client managed PCs are discouraged in favour of a managed PC, primarily for security reasons. It is becoming exceedingly difficult to keep a PC and all applications up-to-date. For this reason, most clients have now subjected their PCs managed by their local or campus IT support groups. Gone are the days when that seriously impacted the usability, or inconvenienced a client more than if they managed the PCs themselves.

The Active Directory domain at the University of Waterloo is called Nexus. Some information about this is provided in the “Active Directory Services (Nexus)” tab on the left, although increasing more of this is migrating away from this site.

Laptops and tablets (notebooks) have been migrated from a mostly “client managed” model to one where they are managed very much like desktops here at UW. They run the same Windows operating system and have access to the same tools and services, so there is little reason to isolate or treat them differently. Where they do differ is during times when they are cannot reach our infrastructure. Where desktops are powered off on occasion, laptops end up in “sleep” or “hibernation” modes, or leave the campus and cannot always apply patches or changes on the same schedule as a desktop. Otherwise, they are treated as similar as we can to desktops.

Please be sure to visit the tabs on the left for more information on all of these subjects.