back to article Whose notebook is it anyway?

For some, the freedom and flexibility of a laptop PC is essential to getting the job done. For others, having the latest piece of mobile kit is perhaps more of a luxury, or even, dare we suggest, just a status symbol. Either way, there is no disputing the shift in emphasis from desktop to portable machines in a business context …


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  1. Richard Gadsden

    OS problems with too much freedom

    If users are given too much freedom, they tend to get machines with Windows Vista Home Premium on, and employers end up having to purchase Vista Ultimate upgrades in order to be able to join them to the domain.

    One good policy I've seen applied is similar to a lot of company car schemes - give the user a budget and if they want something more expensive, then they fork out the difference from their own pocket.

  2. Anonymous Coward


    "you choose it, you support it. You want us to support it, we'll choose it."

    Oh, and mandatory life sentences for sales people who demo stuff at golf clubs ......

  3. M7S
    Thumb Up

    New strategy

    Give them all the best netbooks you can get away with, usually battery life will indicate this for travelling staff, and then have them log into virtual desktops via 3g modems or similar. That way processing requirements can be dealt with back at base if some department demands "more", if the unit is lost its not a major security headache and everything remains synchronised with their desktop systems. In fact you can even use this as the desktop with a connection to the monitor and usb keyboard & mouse and have them all locked away at night for that clean desk policy.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Never let the user choose

    is the golden rule as far as I am concerned.

    I hold all the IT budget for the organisation, and they can discuss their requirements with me, and I'll provide what works for IT (within the customer's constraints).

    Although, my life is simplified by the fact that the laptops only connect to our Citrix access gateway and a published desktop. Also- my users are less technically competent, so with a hardened build on the laptop, they're reasonably safe. No business data lives on the laptop, so if the bork it, that's not a problem. As long as they don't touch the AV and Firewall, what they do after that is fine by me (within the bounds of the usage and security policy).

  5. Adam

    Do any companies really do this?

    Consumerisation? Sounds interesting but I really can't imagine any large corporations doing this. Configuration Control is the key!

    If you have no more than two or three different models available, then any issues with hardware and firmware become far easier to overcome. Driver issues are generally the same across all your stock. If someone needs a specific piece of hardware, you know your starting point and won't find that the 3G modem that works perfectly well on the Dell laptop doesn't work on the HP.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Make them really personal!

    Companies should consider giving the notebooks to their employees with full transfer of responsibility as to what gets installed on them and how legal that would be!

    In doing so, they will remove the liability of running unlicensed software and who knows, they could be treated as resellers by Vendors and get the sweet heart deals!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not corral the corporate build using a VM?

    One way around this is to put the corporate build in a virtual image running in VMWare/Parallels etc. That way the IT department can control their build without allowing users the ability to add what they want and the user gets free reign outside of that assuming they have a PC of sufficient capability.

    Yes there are some security issues (not least managing AV protection and sensitive corporate data), but these are probably not vastly worse than when users are allowed to use home machines to connect to a corporate network - or indeed real human beings are put in charge of data on removable media!

    Personally I use a setup like this every day with my Mac running a VMWare image of my corporately issued PC. I use a USB Ethernet adapter for the virtual machine and WiFi/3G for the mac to keep the two pretty separate. Now I get the best of both worlds - all my corporate windows stuff works as the IT team intended and I'm free to do what I like on the Mac. Plus it means I'm only lugging one laptop around. This also works for contract staff who come with their own hardware ...

  8. Bruno Girin

    User profiles

    In most companies I've worked in, it's worked on the basis that the organisation would have 3 or 4 standard models depending on user profiles, if possible from the same manufaturer, e.g. IBM (Lenovo) ThinkPad for everyone: R-series for most people, T-series with maxed out memory for developers, X-series for people who are on the road a lot (sales rep), whatever the latest model in the series is. This gives less choice to the user but the flip side of the coin is that, when a machine develops a (hardware) fault, you usually have a spare somewhere so you can get the user a replacement very quickly. So limiting the choice can also be a benefit for the users, not just for the IT deparment.

    The same goes for the OS on those machines and how they are configured: locked down, bog-stadard install for most people, more freedom for IT and development services as they regularly need to install custom software on their boxes and tend to know what they're doing. This also ensures that when a machine develops a (software) fault, you can usually resolve it quickly or re-install the box from a ghost image. Once again, the limitation can work in favour of the user.

    Of course, all this will not necessarilly convince a CEO or sales rep intent on getting a shiny new piece of exec kit. Then again, nowadays, the answer would be to get them as a status symbol a crackberry, an iPhone or any latest touch-screen gadget that they won't know how to use: they'll then be happy to then have a bog-standard laptop because showing off down the pub is much easier with an iPhone than with a state of the art laptop.

  9. Bassey

    Control my Arse

    The users will have to pry control over what machines we use and how they are used out my cold dead hands.

    There is one choice of desktop (with larger monitors for IT, Accounts and Managers) and one laptop. And it needs a damn good business case to get a laptop. Then, the laptop is locked down completely, hardware encrypted and can be remote wiped. Laptops are for business use only. No personal web browsing (internet access is locked down outside work hours without a business case and, in any case, is monitored) no games, no apps, no printing etc. Desktops are also completely locked down. Nothing can get on or off without IT intervention and an approved change request signed off by two suitably senior persons.

    This has nothing to do with users being morons (though often they are) or any of the usual IT control-freak mindset. We have auditors. Auditors will have my testicles in a jar if I can't tell them exactly where all of the company data is at any moment in time. If a senior manager wishes to try and pull rank to get themselves something shiny they can explain their reasoning to the head of comliance and I've yet to meet anyone with balls bigger than hers!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    User's input but IT has Final Say

    I always find out what the end user will be using the notebook for but I make the final decision on what the end user is receiving. Other than 1 user (Who tries and make life fun for me) everyone else trusts me on the final say and are happy with what they receive. The one user who likes to be different I will allow him to modify the specs a little (EX. memory, HDD, Battery) but OS, Office suite, etc... are still my say. This usually keeps him quiet.

  11. Stuart

    Back to the Sixties

    When IT departments ran their (mainframe) shop I remember being given a !CL 1901A to do my business modelling (~£30k?). Useless. Went out and bought a £400 TRS-80. The only tricky part was lashing it to a Termiprinter so it looked as though the 132pp output had come off a mainframe. We kept the truth away from the IT folks for a remarkable time. Perhaps it was the lack of support calls that got me in the end ;-)

    Of course one problem is that Windows is no longer a personal OS. Vista attempts to lock out all initiative just like GEORGE & OS/360 before it. But then Linux does the same without trying :-(

  12. Chris Morrison


    Man you sound like you run the most depressing office in the world. Glad I don't work at your company.

    Do you work in telesales or something? I have never worked for any company where the best business solution is to have everyone running the same machine.

    As an example my work, the Engineers have fast machines with lots of memory, Factory floor has any old crap as it is just used for viewing pdf's and running test programs, business guys get middle of the road pc's etc etc. They are all Dell though so if a probelm occurs it's pretty easy to fix.

    If your internet access is locked down adn so strictly monitored what are you doing on here or are you wanting spanked by the compliance officer..again!?

  13. Iain


    All our laptops are identical in all respects, with use access locked to secure partitions and absolutely no freedom to do anything but work work work.

    This is a very good thing. If people want to fill their machines with crap then they can damn well go out and buy their own.

  14. borat

    Don't give people the choice

    You'll only regret it when they have a hardware/driver problem that you've *got* to fix, and you've no idea what hardware is in front of them.

    We have one type of desktop here and one type of laptop. Users don't have Administrator (or Power User) rights, and group policy is nice and tight. All web traffic goes through our internal proxy, so no home pr0n for the laptop users.

    We have Acronis TrueImage installed, and a "perfect" image of each type of machine ready. Setting up a new machine or rebuilding a machine when someone leaves takes 5 minutes. All software is pushed out via GPO, so that handles all upgrades (e.g. Java, Flash etc.). WSUS handles all patches and F-Secure looks after security.

    We don't have blackberry, we have Nokia E71s. When Mr. Shiny Hotshot Salesman joins and demands a blackberry, he gets an E71 irrespective of the number of toys he throws out the pram.

    At the end of the day ***it doesn't matter*** what the kit is as long as it lets you do your job. Having a slim number of devices to support makes it easier on the IT department, and also reduces the sales department's laptop or blackberry willy-waving contests, and helps the budget as well.

    It helps when you have an MD who listens to you and is willing to tell the sales guys to stop making childish demands for the latest toys because, when push comes to shove, they don't really make any difference on his ability to sell.

    </rant over>

  15. John Latham

    The laptop experience

    "People have no difficulty in recognising that the box under their desk belongs to the company they work for, but when they are issued with a business laptop, it somehow becomes ‘theirs’."

    That's because a cheap desktop PC does the job fine, whereas a crap laptop is an utterly miserable experience.

    I'm quite happy using a cheapo Dell Vostro (or whatever) business PC, but for laptop use I've stuck with Thinkpads for the last 11 years.

    The last couple of years of IT "progress" have made the laptop buying experience much less painful. CPUs are usefully more powerful, and with an XP "downgrade" the OS/applications are no more demanding.

    When I purchased my (now ageing) Thinkpad T60p, I felt I really needed to spend the €4k (including dock and accessories) per unit to have enough grunt to run geek workloads. I'm replacing it with a €1700 Thinkpad X301, which has more PCMarks and will drive a 30" QXGA display.

    This brings the hardware costs of a top-spec ultraportable laptop down to about €500 a year, which will likely be dwarfed by the travel expenses of the mobile worker who "needs" one.

    Thus, there is no longer any financial case to inflict laptop crapness on your users. Apart from BOFH motivations, obviously.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Make them buy their own !

    Here's a wacky idea - encourage the peons to buy a workstation for use as their work machines for 2 years. After 2 years, offer to 'let' them buy them at "fair market value". i.e. even after £1000 paid, they wouldn't actually own them unless they give you a bit more.

    Who would take an offer like that? They may as well charge me to enter the building or use a desk.

    But one large IT company is trying/planning to do exactly this. Its giving us all a good laugh.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Laptops and mobiles?

    Interesting points you raise, particularly since I work in a large organisation where virtually everyone uses laptops. Here the policy appears to be 'here's your laptop, like it or lump it', but there is a pretty broad mixture of models, as some people have bricks from a couple of years ago from Vendor A, others have svelte models from our brief dalliance with Vendor B, and more recently people have newer models - note modelS, as the model lines are constantly being updated - from our return to Vendor A.

    However, it occurs to me that the policy for mobile phones is broadly 'here is a shortlist, take your pick', and support is managed. Perhaps this would be a better model for laptop procurement - since the mix of models will remain roughly the same anyway, why not give the *illusion* of a bit of choice.

    Not that many people seem to complain here anyway.

  18. Cameron Colley

    Why let them choose?

    A company laptop is a tool you use to get your job done, if you're stupid enough to think it's a status symbol then you're probably too stupid to be allowed to control what goes on it and how it's used.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    It's not only the hardwear models that vary

    In our organisation we in the IT department not only have the problem of different hardware, several of the development team have now started demanding apple laptops to do their coding on (thereby introducing different OS's into the mix), as they believe the machines and their operating systems to be more fashionable (leaving out the problem that all our software is windows based and therefore all their work must be done within a virtual machine, resulting in them constantly complaining that their system is not as fast as they thought it should be). These choices are in no way tempered by management, who seem to actively encourage diversity in the equipment we purchase.

    Although I hate to sound dictatorial, there are days I really wish we could implement the "you get what you are given" model, and avoid the problems we experience trying to get Windows, Mac, and Linux computers all cooperating on the same domain with file shares and collaboration software. We manage it, but I feel we would have less grey hairs if we could get users all on a common platform and avoid the first question being when people arrive "would you like a PC or a Mac?".

    Anyhow, rant over...

    I'll get my coat...

  20. VampyreWolf

    Images are the easy way

    I've got the only admin account on the systems, so the users need me to install anything they need. Beyond that I let them go free downloading what they want but if they kill it it goes back to an image from up to a month ago. They get thier own computer but they lose thier personal files on it when it goes down. USB is disabled and there are no optical drives. Doesn't mean they can't email thier files to themselves but they can't just dump the drive and take it out the door.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is no middle ground.

    IT control and restricted choice means lower purchase price and support costs by economy of scale. Every "consumer" who opts out reduces that economy of scale, until it is eventually lost.

    IT control and restricted choice means quicker turnaround and closure of fault incidents. Every "consumer" problem needs additional investigation and time to fix, clogging up the call queue until the advantage to the user who doesn't opt out (whose bog-standard ThinkPad is waiting behind Mr. Flash's pimped top-of-the-range Vaio) is lost. The only alternative is to set up two separate support organisations, which is an additional cost too far....

  22. Robert Moore

    Whose notebook is it?

    It is mine! The notebooks are mine, the desktops are mine, the servers are mine, and you are damn lucky I let you use them!

    If you forget who really owns MY computers I can find a nice downgrade for you right quick.

  23. Rod Bowes

    A chance would be a fine thing

    "Maintaining a list of approved laptops" seems to me to be impossible, I can never purchase the same model of laptop two weeks running...

  24. Steve


    We try to keep hardware as consistent as possible for most users, with new machines refreshing for key staff who use computers as their primary tool, with their old ones cascading down to those who just occasionally use them to check email etc. Very few laptops for staff. Users all have non-privileged accounts after we found one key department many years ago infested with viruses and keyloggers because they insisted on opening any random-crap flash game or cute puppy jpeg they received by email or found online...

    And that's my biggest frustration - the amount of software, especially stuff aimed at businesses such as HR's personnel database, our bank's BACS transfer software or fund raising management software that *assumes* the user has full admin rights and expects to be able to write to the Program Files and Windows directories (usually only a pointless lock file, or rewriting some config file on exit). You'd think these days that companies providing software purely for commercial use would be geared up to customers wanting to maintain security and control of software installation but I've lost count of the number of times I've had fruitless discussions with support people whose sole answer is that the documentation says the users must have administrator rights...


  25. Warhelmet


    Why on earth do users expect any choice in the machine that they have to work with? To be more specific, why do some users think that they should have a choice?

    One of things that seems to encourage users to believe that they have choice in pc is being given choice in the model of company car. Same with mobile phones. I used to have something to do with company cars and you would not believe how obsessive and anal some people were about them. And often ordered totally impractical vehicles only to be stung by increases in fuel prices. Or ordered some stupid vehicle with bucket seats only to develop back problems as a result. Or ladies not doing any forward planning - oh, I'll get something sporty with difficult access and forget about the fact that I am planning to have a baby soon.

    With mobile phones - if you only use the core functionality of the phone for business purposes - i.e. calls & texts, model doesn't matter very much, unless you go for something flaky.

    Some organisations are too conscious of status. Senior executives break rules all the time because no one has the cojones to stand up to them. In status conscious organisations, things like the size of your desk and the sexiness of your pc are important. I know that I've struggled to get a more grunty box (that I genuinely needed) whereas senior executives got essentially expensive consumer market toys. Worse still, the CEO got the company to buy this kids with consumer PCs and suck the support.

    Here's the rub. Tools vs toys. Business stuff should be tools. No organisation should pay for people's toys.

  26. Andy

    Status symbols

    It used to be true that possession of a laptop indicated status, but these days every fecker's got one. In my organisation, PHBs now demand an Apple logo on their etch-a-sketches.


  27. Dave
    Black Helicopters

    Laptop Data

    I have a company laptop. I am very careful about what I install on it and what I use it for, given that as far as I'm concerned it's theirs and I don't want them to get hold of my data. I never let anything on the machine store a password, be it Firefox, IE, the VPN client or some other app. I generally find that unless I know I need it, I leave it at home (I have a desktop to use at work), and take my personal netbook with me instead. That will do pretty much anything I need for webmail, note taking, etc, and I can VNC to my desktop machine for anything that really needs doing. Admittedly it's interesting to view a screen comprising two large monitors via a netbook screen, but it can be done and it means I'm lugging 2-3lb instead of 10-12lb.

    I generally have a nice, healthy paranoia for IT-related stuff, including not putting stuff in email that I'd rather not have forwarded. Sometimes it's useful as an audit trail for arse-covering, but some stuff is best done verbally.

    Oops... here comes the chopper.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Laptops, bah!

    Laptops are meant for mobility. If you work on a field where portability is not a requirement, you are wasting your dosh. They are (still) heavy, they are expensive, not upgradeable (to PCs extent), and you must rely on the original manufacturer to get it repaired. What about battery life? The real great notebooks regarding this field last 8 hours unhooked. I'd like to see a laptop that lasts as much as my cell phone (a full frigging week for chrissakes!). I have one and don't see much use to it, because I kept my desk PC at home, which is waaaay more comfortable, keyboard-wise. On my job, an office-drone job, there is another desktop for me, so why bother? Both desktops get the job done, the note can´t handle much gaming beyond Halo, so again I can´t get rid of the deskie and the reason it can play Halo is because I required one with mobile nVidia graphic card on it, which most won't.

    No icon, since there is no point in working in a laptop, unless for obvious reasons.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    It's a spanner

    The one I lug around the planet is a spanner. A tool. I have to load all sorts of weird software onto it to talk to PLCs, variable speed drives, data acquisition systems, valve programmers and the like. So, unfortunately, it has to have some sort of windows.

    I have to be able to load software to edit vector graphics, compile software, produce reports and communciate over whatever dodgy bit of string the hotel has managed to provide.

    What I get is a corporate desktop that folds up. The screen saver comes in every 3 minutes, I am prohibited from installing software, and the start up and shutdown scripts assume I am on the corporate network and hence it can take half an hour of timeouts to start up, and an infinity of time to shut down. And one upon which the loading of software is against policy (although to be fair they havn't banged me up so far)

    I have had 3 new ones in 2 years, and on every occasion I have had to reject the first offering because it did not have the parallel and serial ports needed to talk to industrial equipment, often using 15 year old software that the vendors no longer support, let alone maintain.

    I try to carry an extensive archive of manuals, data sheets, and site histories, but yet I am given a machine with the smallest hard disk available 'because you are supposed to keep everything on the network'. I wanted one to match the old Dell I had 5 years ago with a 1920 pixel horizontal resolution, that let me run two device debuggers side by side. I get one with a 1080 horizontal resolution because 'large screens are reserved for management'.

    All pleas for a ruggedised unit are dismissed. I have to have the latest plastic monstrosity that comes from the same pick-list as the secretarial desk systems. And whenever I go to collect it they expect me to take away a docking station and a 15 inch LCD screen. "thats so you can connect quickly at home". I am not likely to leave that sort of spaghetti monstorisity on the kitchen table for 38 days, against the half day at home at the end of a job. The last plastic one was repaired at least 5 times inside its warranty period, leaving me unable to go to site and earn the company revenue while it was off the air.

    The most annoying thing is being treated as 'not a team player' when I bring these absurdities to anyone's attention. 'This is what we do, no-one else complains' they say to every blasted one of us who complains. I would not say it is management by incomeptence, but certainly by indifference.

    The latest one no longer dual-boots into W2K, so I am expected to find a solution for the half dozen or so applications that were never ported to XP, let alone Vista. But I can't run anything in a virtual box 'Because we have no budget to licence the extra OS' and 'It is against security policy'.

    The suggestion now is that I buy a second laptop to actually use, at my own expense no doubt, and reserve the corporate one for corporate communications only. Take two bottles into the shower? I should coco.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Just My Experience

    I've been using a company laptop for several years (I'm a manager). I have also been using it as my principal personal computer.

    That's about to change. Because the company is getting medieval with their IT policies, I am purchasing my own laptop (that will make the one owned by the company look like a close-and-play), and will move all my personal stuff onto it. I will be leaving my corporate laptop at work.

    This means that I won't be checking my corporate email from home (VPN not allowed on non-corporate machines). I normally keep a VPN connection on while I'm working on my own stuff at home, and can quickly respond to issues from overseas. It also means that any issues that occur when I am not in the office (or traveling on company business) will not be addressed until I am back at work.

    The work I do personally will get a HUGE boost, as I will now, no longer be distracted from it with things like work emergencies or issues (I do quite a bit of technical stuff, for a manager). There will not be a significant impact on my productivity at work, as I don't do much personal stuff here, anyway.

    So, a policy meant to stop a twenty-some-year-old secretary from wasting dozens of dollars looking at MySpace pages will cause many, many thousands of dollars worth of damage to my software development department.

    Good show.

  31. Fazal Majid

    Laptop allowances are the way to go

    I am amused by the IT control freaks venting here - their attitude explains why IT is universally reviled in almost every large organization, and why they will be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.

    The personal computer, whether a laptop, desktop or smartphone, is just a terminal to access web-based business applications running on the Intranet. Local applications running on the terminal like Microsoft Office are no longer relevant in the 21st Century and belong in the trash heap of history. Thus, it does not matter who administratively controls the PC (or Mac). Companies that "get" it are turning to a laptop allowance model - the users are responsible for purchasing and maintaining their own access device.

    The idea that the business should be responsible for supporting the PC is another residue of outdated views on computing - computer literacy is a basic requirement to function in the modern workplace, and PC help desks are no more justified than company-paid scribes to support illiterate workers, or company cars.

    Of course, the biggest part of IT, which has parlayed Windows-based manageability shortcomings into job security of sorts, sees this change with apprehension and tries to stave off consumerisation (read commoditization) in a massive demonstration of denial.

  32. Lee
    IT Angle

    laptops - status symbols?

    bloody hell, maybe in 1992 or so when the first colour models came out (non-suitcase amber or green not included!). Kids today have cellphone and laptop; why would anyone think that this is a status symbol.

    our lot get a laptop when they join. All. The. Same. Model. (Whole disk encryption, before anyone asks).

    the last thing we want is for the scrotes to say "I need this installed".

    we don't even offer them for sale at the end of life (about 30 months old) - it's too much hassle.

    TCO is high enough without fecking about like this :-)

    What's the IT angle? Sounds more like a bunch of whining kids venting, to be honest. With it hitting my budget (oh, if they only had the clout :-D)

  33. jake Silver badge

    Laptops are good.

    Actually, the last several office networks I've either rebuilt, or built from scratch, I've specked nothing but laptops. Throw in a docking station, an exterior display, mouse/trackball & keyboard and you have a lot of flexibility ... it's a desktop system that can be portable if needs be.

    But the real savings is in power ... Laptops run on less juice than comparable desktops. This translates into a further savings when it comes to AC. In a 10 seat office, it's not a huge savings, but when you have 100+ seats the power savings is surprisingly large. The savings breaks even for the larger initial hardware cost outlay in about 18 months. As always, YMMV.

    Tjhe laptops are all the same model, and I implement whole disk encryption. Obviously, all business data is in the servers. Laptops stay in the office chained to the desk unless the user has a good business case for taking it elsewhere. Users live in user space. All connectivity is encrypted and runs thru' a proxy under the total control of the business. No usb or optical media, and various other tricks of the trade.

    Yes, I usually have sales dweebs who want something flashy. I tell them "No, glitter doesn't help you get your job done." Easy.

    Yes, I usually have engineers, CAD operators, and various other folks who want faster processors, higher resolution, more RAM, etc. I tell them "Make a business case for it so I can justify it to the bean counters". Again, easy.

    Then there's the TopBrass who want something huge and glittery on their credenza, so they can impress visitors with their screen saver. I let 'em have it ... they never use it anyway, so support is minimal. There is a Fortune 250 Sr. VP I am aware of who after some 20 months has never even logged onto his ~$7,500 triple-headed desktop box. How do I know? Because I'm the only person who has the password. He never even asked me for it ... but about once a quarter he calls me up to take a look at it because "it did something funny". When I check the logs, the last person to login was myself ... three months earlier. Idiot.

    There are others in similar positions of power who make a big show of "checking the computer", even though their network cable was "accidentally" never installed. Free hint to all consultants: ALWAYS ask the secretary about the Boss's computer knowledge. You'll save a lot of time and trouble in the long haul :-)

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Users and excerises in wind-urination

    In truth there’s always a battle to be had between IT and everyone else. We know that we hold the keys to all of the doors, everything runs on our systems, we maintain, we upgrade, we troubleshoot, we are professionals and we take our work very seriously and personally. Users can’t understand the scope of IT, they don’t understand the work that we put in and responsibility that we hold. When time permits I always try to explain the bigger picture, but after 3 minutes I see their eyes glaze over and I know that all hope is lost.

    My view is that if a user really needs a laptop, it helps them work in locations other than the office and if they can justify it, then sure they can have one… and they can pick the screen size but not the laptop. It’s a work machine… *on loan* to the user and it’s a walking security risk so sorry but it’s going to be locked down tighter than a Yorkshireman's wallet if it’s even going to look in the general direction of the network. But as I said explaining that to the user is generally an exercise in wind-urinating which is why most of us normally resort to “because I’m the pro and I said so”.

  35. P. Lee Silver badge

    locked down laptops?

    If you don't control access to hardware, you don't control the system.

    My advice would be keep all the real desktops safe inside citrix or rdp farms.

    You could offer to partially subsidise a Mac laptop for them - they'll probably look after it and there's less rubbish they might install.

  36. Anonymous Coward

    Personal tools

    Yes yes, I understand that a lot of VP's have no idea how to fully use a computer. But I think those fiery comments about locking out everything besides work related activities on a computer shows that there is much to do still in companies philosophies. Business case is obviously a new expression how dissatisfied IT workers can fight fire ("stupid management users") with fire.

    A laptop becomes personal because you're using it on a daily basis. It has to fit you. How about if the IT department would say in giving gloves for the winter: we give XL gloves to everybody because they keep exactly the same warmth. After 17:30, so after normal work time, the fingers of the glove will open so that you can't use it anymore. And every time you're in the office we'll come collect DNA from your glove, to be sure that you're the only one who used it. And then those gloves will feel like they're missing something and feel incomplete.

    And you have a laptop because you need to be mobile - for the company. That means you'll end up more often than not at the end of the day in a hotel, with no other mean of having fun cheaply besides a laptop. But wait, I can't browse, I can't install my applications on it, the laptop is just a brick outside working hours and suddenly I decide to get an own laptop, carrying double so much laptop weight. I also don't understand companies who don't fit their laptops with DVD player software for the mobile employees.Costs are important of course, but at all companies I was I never had any problems with laptop or software. Some of the laptops were really annoying, for having weird keyboards, weird bugs, becoming too warm. Sometimes having too much control software on my laptop will grind it to a halt regardless of how much memory I have. If USB is disabled I wouldn't use that laptop - and I would loudly complain. That would mean I can't even use favourite portable applications.

    I would prefer a special VAIO because they have distinct keys which are well far from each other. There, how many laptops have that, based on Windows? Not everybody has precise enough fingers for a laptop...

    If you have a talent in your company and have this kind of absurd policies, I am not sure that the person will stay there. In the war for talent, you have to keep your users happy. I would not resign only on an issue like this, but this would be a big minus for the company.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Duel purpose laptops

    @ my place of work we all have the same laptop model give or take the usual small changes to spec, hdd, memory etc. But create two user profiles on each laptop one for home with games and apps on and one for work with hard core encryption for all business data. The laptops run full AV and Firewalls at all times. Our development enviroments are all Virtual Macnine so can be set up in a matter of minutes if one was to go down. All documents are stored on our companys secure server

  38. Mark

    re: Duel purpose laptops

    So you fight over who gets the nice laptop, then?

  39. Anonymous Coward


    Being a travelling automation engineer in a company with mostly in house CAD designers and administrative staff I've managed to deal quite well with the restrictive IT policy.

    For most of the company a standard locked down workstation or laptop is sufficient and it was quite hard to convince IT that some have other requirements.

    When they finally rolled out XP (in 2005) they rightly decided not to give out administrator rights to everyone. Their misstake was not to give them to anyone. After bothering them more than daily to switch my IP address so I could connect to some hardware I was testing at the time I managed to get "power user" rights, and a second network card. Still it wasn't very convenient to have to go to them every time I needed something installed or removed, as I must do this on a weekly basis. Other annoyances included not being able to set the timezone to the one I was actually in, not being able to watch movies without it locking every 15 minutes while staying in hotels and not being able to use Skype to call home, but getting compaints about €1500,- phone bills caused mostly because of colleagues calling me while I was halfway around the world.

    Then I found myself locked out of my account halfway around the world with another six weeks before returning home, with a "helpdesk" telling me to connect to the company VPN so they could reset my password.

    At that time I decided the machine would no longer belong to IT and I would care for it myself. With physical access to the machine it wasn't very hard to reset the admin password, revert the most annoying "group policy" settings and continue my work without spending a week and €10000,- to return home to let IT fix it.

    I've since made a deal with my boss and the head of IT that I will do whatever I damn well please with my laptop, as long as I agree not to help any of my less tech-savvy colleagues doing the same and keep quiet about the lax security they keep.

    This was four years ago, and the only support I've required from our IT guys since then was to let them buy me a new machine, according to my requirements of course.

    After all, IT is a service department. It's not like they earn the company any money.

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