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Durham University

Computing and Information Services

Frequently Asked Questions

List of FAQ categories

Managed Desktop

+Can I access University Information Systems or corporate applications (e.g. Banner, Syllabus+, Oracle, etc.)?

We are still evaluating the University’s information systems applications (Banner, Syllabus+, Oracle, Raiser’s Edge, Tribal, Kinetics, etc.) in the Windows 10 environment in order to ensure that the performance and user experience is as you would expect. It may be that these are not suitable for virtualisation via the App Hub and if that is the case alternative options for access will be considered to support the longer term goal of flexible remote access.

To ensure that progress continues, CIS are starting by upgrading those members of staff who do not user the applications in question and then return to the outstanding colleagues.

+How are applications streamed to the desktop?

The new desktop environment introduces the concept of streamed applications.

We use software called Cloudpaging to stream applications to the user’s PC when the application is needed. This means that applications are available on every PC on the Managed Desktop, rather than having to go to a certain area of the campus and that they can be maintained and updated in one place (at the Cloudpaging server). You'll experience a momentary delay when you first open your application, while it streams from the server. Once launched, the performance of the application will be exactly as you're used to.

+How do I log out of the Managed Desktop (teaching)

The method of logging out in Windows 10 has changed from Windows 7.

To log out, click on the Windows menu icon at the bottom left of the screen then click on the Durham Logo at the left of the menu panel that opens. Select 'Sign out'.

+How do I request installation of an application I need on the Managed Desktop?

Visit Self-Service Portal and you will find lists of the applications available and information on acquiring software. You can make a request for software to be added using the forms provided on that page.

+How has the rollout of the new desktop been planned?

With over 5,000 staff computers to be upgraded to the new desktop environment, the schedule is a busy one. We started the rollout in June 2017 with the aim of completing as much as possible by the end of July. The roll out is being done on a departmental basis and we will contact each one directly to agree the time and circulate information.

+My application won't start, what should I do?

If you experience any issues, please contact the IT Service Desk. We need to know about any issues users come across, so we can ensure we provide the best experience possible.

+What are the main differences I will notice, compared to the previous desktop environment?

The most obvious difference is that your new desktop experience is based on Microsoft Windows 10 and also includes Office 2016 and you access your applications via the App Hub which streams them to your machine. Full details can be found here.

+What do I do if I don’t want to use the Managed Desktop?

In many organisations, including universities, government departments and corporate entities (large and small) a managed desktop service is the route for appropriate individuals (staff and/or members) to access IT services. Managed desktop environments provide a consistent, secure experience with a common set of applications/services via a common operating system. These services are centrally managed so updates and security patches are applied once to all users. 

In order to protect the University: you as users, the integrity and security of the data and information you create and store, and the network that supplies the services upon which we all rely, staff and students are required to use the Managed Desktop service.

+What does the Durham University Desktop Environment look like?

More information on the new windows 10 desktop can be found here.

+What does the future have in store for University PCs?

The new environment will act as a foundation for flexible remote access - meaning you'll be able to access applications and data from a range of devices, regardless of where you are, on or off campus (subject to licensing conditions).

+What is the Managed Desktop?

When you use a University managed computer, the way it looks, feels and works is all part of your desktop environment. It gives you a consistent experience with a common operating system and set of applications which are updated, managed and secured from a central point The new Managed Desktop is replacing our previous desktop services, MDS for staff and NPCS for students. You’ll benefit from improved performance, the latest operating system and Office software, streamed applications and a consistent experience regardless of which computer you’re using.

You can find out more about it here.

+When will the new desktop environment be introduced?

The new desktop environment was delivered to teaching machines and those in meeting rooms in 2016 and is being rolled out to staff computers (those using the previous MDS desktop) from June 2017.

We'll be working with departments to schedule the rollout.

+Where can I find out more about Windows 10 and/or Office 2016?

If you haven't seen Windows 10 or would like to learn more about it, Microsoft have a useful online demonstration here and a summary of its features here. A few of the features of Windows 10 will be disabled within the University environment such as Cortana and Edge, but you'll get a good idea of how our computers will look and feel.

You can find some handy guides which take you through the key differences here: https://www.dur.ac.uk/cis/faqs/?faqcategory=622

Microsoft’s own support web pages have a lot of good information too, you'll find a whole range of online training courses, videos and tutorials from Microsoft here.

You'll also find quick start guides for Office applications here:

Please be aware that these links take you to sites outside the University and the University is not responsible for the content on these links.

+Where have my desktop files/shortcuts gone in the new desktop environment?

If you had files saved on the desktop before we upgraded to the new desktop environment, you can still access them. The desktop location on the Managed Desktop is now in a new area on your J: drive ‘J:\dude\Desktop’

Your old desktop still exists on your J: drive and you’ll find a shortcut to the old location on the desktop. On student and teaching computers this will be called ‘Old NPCS desktop’ and on staff computers it will say ‘Old MDS desktop’.

Double click the shortcut to access your old desktop location and, if necessary, you can copy or move your files onto the new desktop.

If you prefer to navigate to the old location directly, you’ll find it at: ‘J:\desktop’ for student and teaching machines, and ‘J:\mds_Desktop’ for staff machines.

+Who should I contact if I have a problem with the University desktop service?

If you experience any problems with the new desktop environment, please let us know by contacting the IT Service Desk. If you have issues we’d like to know as soon as possible so we can work to fix them for you.

+Why are NPCS and MDS being replaced?

This activity is part of the University's New World Programme, a five-year programme to radically improve IT infrastructure and services at Durham. The Durham University Desktop Environment is the first step in bringing more flexibility to the way we provide access to the software we use in our studies and our work. It shifts the focus away from the machine and towards the user. You’ll be able to use any managed PC and your experience will be the same from one machine to the other, no matter what your role in the University.

Find out more about the New World Programme's access project here:

https://www.dur.ac.uk/cis/nwp/infrastructure/access/dude

+Why is there a delay when I open an application in the new desktop environment?

Our new desktop environment introduces the concept of streamed applications and we use software called Cloudpaging to stream applications to the user’s PC when the application is needed. This means that applications are available at all PCs rather than having to go to a certain area of the campus and that they can be maintained and updated in one place (at the Cloudpaging server).

You'll experience a momentary delay when you first open your application, while it streams from the Cloudpaging server. Once launched, the performance of the application will be exactly as you're used to.

If you experience excessive delays, please do let us know by contacting the IT service desk.

+Will desktop PCs remember my preferences?

The new desktop environment introduces the concept of user virtualisation meaning the environment is tailored to your needs, regardless of which PC you use. The service is based on the user, rather than the machine. 

When you log in (via any machine), the software we use ‘AppSense’, to manage and deliver applications, can tell from your user details what services you can access and delivers them to you as you need them. This means that your global and application settings and preferences will apply regardless of which PC you use, giving you a consistent experience wherever you go.