Not Thinking: University of Texas Business School

April 1998 – You’ve probably heard that the University of Texas McCombs School of Business will require students to purchase or lease a specific Dell laptop running Windows NT beginning in the Fall 1998 semester. (Special thanks to thessaSource for following the story.)

Their reasons include:

  • standardization simplifies use and support
  • you can negotiate better prices in bulk
  • this prepares students for the business world

As an IS manager, I’ll buy the first two arguments, but not the last one.

First, Windows NT is decidedly not the corporate OS choice. Windows 95 has a greater market share. Windows 3.1 has a larger installed user base. Even the much maligned Mac OS has more market share than Windows NT. Although NT may become the OS of choice (sometime after Windows 98 comes and goes), that is speculation. To require each student use an OS that may never achieve market dominance is foolish.

Second, most businesses have not and never will standardize on a single computer (one brand perhaps, but never one model). One size does not fit all. Many businesses have a variety of PCs from the 386-era to the present – some with DOS, some with Windows 3.1, some with Windows 95, and perhaps a Windows NT server. And let’s not forget the design department with its Macs.

Teaching computer conformity ill prepares UT business students for the real world.

That’s Not All

The business of education is producing thinking individuals, not clones. Yet the UT Business School doesn’t allow its students to determine if the Dell laptop is their best choice. Sorry, IBM, Compaq, Gateway, and Apple, but our students aren’t allowed to choose their own computers.

Sure, Dell (located just short drive from the UT Business School) is probably going to cut the school a great deal. And the Intel technology funds certainly don’t hurt chances of the school choosing a Windows NT solution. And the fact is, Wintel computers are dominant in the business world.

That’s Still Not All

Frankly, I’m more disappointed by the enforced conformity than by the fact they ignore my platform of choice. Even in the Wintel world there are a lot of choices – and a Power Mac G3 with Virtual PC 2.0 makes a great Windows machine for the Mac lover.

Worse than eliminating student choice, the University of Texas Business School made a poor choice of operating systems.

  1. Unlike Windows 95, Windows NT has no power management capabilities, yet students are required to run it on a laptop.*
  2. Windows NT 4.0 isn’t Year 2000 compliant,** despite the fact the Dell computers themselves undoubtedly are.

On the other hand, as every Dilbert fan knows, management is fully capable of making bone headed decisions.

Maybe the UT Business school is preparing its students for the real world after all.

Additional Resources

* I received an email from Emery Berger of the Department of Computer Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin. He notes that while Windows NT doesn’t have power management capabilities, Dell supplies power management software for Windows NT with these laptops.

** Don’t take my word for it. Read the article on Microsoft’s site that essentially says, “We want you to deploy Windows NT 4 now, knowing that Y2K compliance will be available when NT 5 ships.” Microsoft has patches for Windows NT 4 that improve Y2K compliance.

Keywords: #windowsnt #backwardmibration #utbusinessschool

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