How personal should a business PC be?

I recall trying to sell some Sun workstations into a customer a while back. I couldn't believe how important a CD player was to the opportunity. My guess is that the users wanted to listen to music, but they would never admit it :) Yeah, this is pre-iPod/MP3-player days.Last night,  while checking my StatCounter logs, I ran into someone hitting this post. The comment section is especially interesting.

PC stands for "Personal Computer". That makes sense if you own it. But a PC at work is really a BC (Business Computer). You don't own it. Your employer does. Many employers lock down their BCs so end user's can't "personalize" them too much. The more "personal" it becomes, the more it costs the company to support it. Many  companies trend to the other end of the spectrum. The end users can do whatever they want. Thanks (or not) to government regulation, this peice of the pie is subject to shrinking (I have no data to back this up, not even anecdotal).

So here's the question. How "personal" should a business PC be? Here's an example. Let's say you are given the following options:

  1. You are given a "PC", and you can do what you want with it.
  2. You are given a "BC", and you can't do everything you want, but the company returns 1/2 of their savings to you. Let's say the savings is $500/year to you for the reduced management costs.
  3. Given my new-found weight loss, I have to add the Sun Ray :) You are given a Sun Ray at home, and $1000/year. The company's management costs drop as well as their real estate costs. FYI, I am not getting $1000/year. IBut I will save that much in gas :)

I know what most of you are thinking. "Hey, for $500 or $1000, I can buy a laptop". Yep, a new one every year, but you can't plug it in to the company network, and put them at risk.

 What would you choose?

Comments:

Cold hard cash is cold hard cash. I haven't customized my Win XP "BC" at work at all - in fact I couldn't care less. I use it for Outlook and web and that's it. I have customized hardware in my UNIX workstation (mirrored drives) and I run stock Solaris 10 instead of our company's Solaris 10 build, but then I support all of that myself (I wouldn't let the x-mas tree experts mess with it anyway!), so it doesn't really cost the company anything.

Posted by UX-admin on January 24, 2007 at 04:25 PM PST #

At the places I've worked in the last 5 years, Linux has been the OS given to all developers, after a few months of IT trying to keep them locked down, they gave up and opened root for all developers, with certain restrictions (and consequences). This free'd up a LOT of their time, saving them money. But to get back to the question, I'd probably take the "BC", at least for the business end of apps. As long as I have XEmacs I'm kept pretty happy :)

Posted by Jason on January 24, 2007 at 11:18 PM PST #

I can think of a couple of other options:

You buy your PC (the company provides reimbursement up to a fixed amount), and the company provides a "stack" of key software like VPN, antivirus, etc., but you manage it yourself. This is great for techies.

The company provides an administratively locked-down BC, but also provides a VMware instance for you to install your personal apps.

Posted by Mark on January 25, 2007 at 02:35 AM PST #

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