The University has had Desktop Recommendations (originally called Desktop Standards) since the mid-1990s. At that time, Penn was anticipating the roll-out of a new client/server application and we discovered that we had no public standards for personal computers—only the hope that the Computer Connection was stocking appropriate systems. Those first standards went live in February 1995 and look absolutely primitive to our 2016 eyes: the top of the line Windows system specification listed 16 MB RAM, a 540 MB hard drive, and a 15-inch color monitor.

The Desktop Recommendations for 2016-2017 are notably different. Over the last twenty years, more context has steadily been added to the specifications and we now lead off the document with that context. This year, there is discussion of Windows 10, advice to consider alternative desktop delivery methods, specifics on administrative system requirements, and a reminder that support for OS X Mountain Lion is ending.

Changes in the specifications themselves have become more incremental over the years as improvements in desktop computers have slowed. Notable changes for this year include standardizing on SSD for Windows systems, a move to 16 GB RAM as the standard (last year was an 8 GB to 16 GB range), moving closer to the high quality display sweet spot by extending the size range to 24 inches, and updates that integrate Intel’s current Skylake chipsets.

Perhaps more important than the hardware changes are the operating system changes. The OS X version change to version 10.11 El Capitan is as expected, as there is almost always only one operating systems choice for new Mac OS systems. The Windows choice is more meaningful; last year’s Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8.1 Update recommendation has been merged into a Windows 10 recommendation. Windows 10 adoption at Penn continues to be strong—it is now the most prevalent version of Windows at the University, with about 7,500 affiliated systems.

Many documents attach to the Desktop Recommendations themselves and many of these have been updated recently. In particular, the Display and Graphics Guide has been substantially revised. Unlike the Desktop Recommendations, which mark a yearly "stake in the ground", these associated documents update as needed throughout the year.

This year's Desktop Recommendations and associated documents incorporate well over two month's worth of useful and valued input from Schools, Centers, and user's groups. We're always looking for suggestions on how to make these recommendations more useful—please contact me (John Mulhern III) with any comments, questions, or concerns.