Luther College Chips

Luther to switch from Mac to PC

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ITS is reviewing computer labs across campus in deciding what changes to make.

ITS is reviewing computer labs across campus in deciding what changes to make.

Vicky Agromayor (‘19) | Photo Bureau

Vicky Agromayor (‘19) | Photo Bureau

ITS is reviewing computer labs across campus in deciding what changes to make.

Kristen Wuerl, Staff Writer

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In January 2017, Luther College’s Information Technology Services (ITS) began implementing changes to update faculty and staff work computers issued by Luther.

ITS will complete two important changes over the course of this current refresh cycle, which began during the 2016 academic year and will last three to four years. ITS is transitioning faculty and staff from Apple Mac computers to Dell computers where they consider it beneficial, and is supercharging computers that the faculty and staff currently have.

Supercharging a computer involves increasing its random access memory (RAM) to eight gigabytes and replacing hard drives with faster 240 gigabytes Solid State Drives (SSDs). The supercharged computers will physically look the same but will have better performing processors.

According to Director of User Services Diane Gossman, the change comes as part of budget assessments throughout the college.
“The primary reason for the change is cost,” Gossman said. “Our existing budget won’t support [faculty and staff members] receiving new computers because of [Apple’s] increasing prices.”

According to ITS’s website, as of June 1, 2016, Mac desktops cost about $600 more than Windows desktops, and Mac laptops cost about $400 more than Windows laptops. With those costs in mind, Gossman explained what changes will be made.

“We’re not removing all Macs,” Gossman said. “We’re just moving away from Macs where it makes sense for what faculty and staff are doing.”

According to Workstation Support Communications Administrator Matt Hughes (’97), the benefit of shifting to more computers with Windows operating systems and supercharging current Mac computers is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to repair Apple computers.

“Apple has made some design changes that take our ability to repair computers out of our hands,” Hughes said. “It’s easier to work with older [Mac] models because you can replace more of their [operating parts]. With newer [Mac] models, often you can only replace one piece, or sometimes no pieces, [in it].”

ITS has been changing and upgrading faculty and staff computers over time, and they offered an online form for faculty and staff to fill out regarding computer model and computer supercharge preferences. The form offered six options for choosing how to refresh their computers: supercharging current Windows or Macs, refreshing Mac software, switching from a Mac to a Windows Desktop, switching from a Mac to a Windows laptop, switching from a current Mac to a supercharged MacBook Pro, or consulting with ITS to determine the best refresh option.

Assistant Professor of Management Alexandra White currently has a Luther-issued Dell work computer, but is not choosing to refresh her computer now.

“My work computer was already upgraded about a year or so ago as part of the [Business] department’s technology plan with ITS,” White said. “I am not aware of any refresh needs [on my work computer] at the moment.”

While ITS is currently upgrading and refreshing faculty and staff work computers, they are not planning on removing all Mac computers in labs across campus. However, some labs have seen decreases in the number of Mac computers based on usage, but not all Macs have been removed.

Gossman explained the process for reducing computers in labs that are not frequently used.

“For any lab, when it’s time to upgrade, we look at the number of computers to see what makes sense,” Gossman said. “When we have conversations, there are some spaces where the number of computers there aren’t needed, so we’ve reduced them. The [music department] wanted the Jenson-Noble lab to be more of a seminar room, and the computers in that room weren’t being used based on our stats and based on what [the department] was seeing, as well. [The department] made the decision to drop from 10 to four [computers], and [ITS] agreed.”

There are currently seven computer labs in residence halls, eight computer labs in buildings, 14 computer classrooms in buildings, and six locations of publicly available kiosks across campus.

For more information on Luther’s faculty and staff refresh cycle, visit the Technology Help Desk and ITS websites.

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