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Frequently Asked Questions 

Here are some of the Frequently Asked Questions which have been gathered by the project. We will update this page as the project progresses.  Use the links on the right to jump to a specific section.

Tip: Press CTRL+F to find a keyword on this page

Scope of the project

What is being replaced?

The initial focus was to provide staff with a suitable laptop to work flexibly, so where staff had no device or were using a personal device, these were replaced first. We sent out nearly 400 devices direct to people's homes between March and August this year.

We are now prioritising replacements by age of device, whether desktop or laptop. The first phase of this is replacing equipment that is over five years old. 

How do I know if my device is in scope?

With the budget we have and the age of most of the University estate, you will be included if your machine is five years or older. If it is three to four years old, you will be included in a future refresh. Eventually, everyone should be working on a device which is no older than four years. 

How can I tell how old my computer is?

There are a couple of ways of telling roughly how old your computer is.

From 2015 every University owned computer has an asset sticker, where the first four digits are the date of supply (e.g. L20192030). If there is no date, your computer is older than 5 years.

You can also get an estimate by checking the BIOS (firmware) date.  In the Windows search box in the taskbar, type cmd and hit enter. Once the Command Prompt window has opened, type systeminfo.exe and hit enter. Scroll down until you see 'BIOSVersion:” Check the date listed.

Who is included? Who is excluded?

The replacement project covers existing fixed term and permanent staff on the University of Reading payroll. It does not include new starters (except where they replace an existing member of staff who had a machine in scope), nor does it include PhD, Post-Graduates, Post-Graduate Researchers, or Students. 

I have a device purchased with a research grant, is this in scope?

Devices bought on research grants will not be replaced under this programme. If you have a grant for computer equipment, this should be used instead of using central funds. 

My device is newer than 5 years, but I do not believe it is fit for purpose. Can I get a new one through this project?

We are only able to replace older devices with this year's budget, and we cannot fund non standard devices.

The existing Hardware Exception Process should be used If you don't think your current device is enough, please raise a Hardware exception form so we can investigate what you need. This also applies if you took an "emergency" device earlier in the year, and now wish to replace it with something else. 

I'm still using my own personal laptop, can I get a replacement?

If this is the only device you are using, please get in touch with us by emailing



How do you decide which devices are to be replaced? Does my department have an allocation?

We are replacing devices which are in use, by age. We can identify all devices which connect to the University network, and using this information we are building up a list of every device in use and sorting by oldest first. We will then contact the departments concerned and advise them who is in scope for a new device. 

Should I contact you if I think I should be in scope?

If you are using a university device which is connected to the University network, please wait for us to contact you.  

However, if your computer is not connected to the University network (i.e. it is not connected to the Internet or you never use VPN) we won't know about it. Also,we are unable to identify ownership of personal devices being used. In either case, we would need you to let us know if you are using an old computer, or still using your own device.

What are the timescales?

We plan to get the first 750 devices out to staff by the end of the Autumn Term. This is dependent on staff resources and what else is happening in DTS, so please ask your Business Partner for an update if you want to know the current status.

What happens next?

The long term strategy is to continue to replace staff devices every three to four years. We will, each year, ensure we are getting the best Surface devices for our evolving needs.


Budget and funding

What is the centralised budget paying for?

The replacement package is a new computing device (from the Buyer's Guide), one power supply for that device and a new docking station (for use on campus). It does not include *anything else*, including monitor, cabling to the monitor, separate mouse, keyboard, headset, USB hub, etc.. All these are classed as peripherals, and are to be purchased by the department through the standard channels. See Buying Computer Hardware

How will laptops be funded after 2022? Can departments continue using old PC’s and let DTS cover the replacement cost later?

The university strategy is to centralise the budget, however we don't have details of how this will work in practice. The budget we have only covers 2021-22.

The lowest priced Surface option is more expensive than the previous entry-level laptop.Can we buy a cheaper one?

One aim of the staff device strategy is to standardise devices across the university. DTS and Procurement have worked together to find the best solution, and the Microsoft Surface wins on quality (for the money), performance, flexibility and portability. Staff should only be buying from the standard range of laptops. Exceptions will only be considered where the member of staff has requirements which are not met by these laptops (for example, high power computing requirement). 



What are the standard devices offered?

We have the following Windows devices on offer:

  • Surface Go Laptop
  • Surface Pro 7+ i5
  • Surface Laptop 4 i5
  • Surface Laptop 4 i7 

We can supply Macs (Mac Book Air or Mac Book Pro), however you will be asked to supply a business reason for this.

These are explained in the Buyer's guide. We are not able to fund non standard equipment.

Is there guidance for staff to help them choose which device would best suit their needs?

Some scenarios are explored in the Buyer's guide, plus we are happy to provide assistance. If you need help, please email us at

What else do I need to buy?

Central funding includes providing a Surface dock for new Surfaces, as Surfaces aren't compatible with the existing docking stations, plus the power cable. Existing monitors, keyboards, mice and headsets are compatible with the new Surfaces. Recommendations on peripherals are in the Buyer's guide, and the XMA Hub contains the items you can buy.

None of the Surfaces have an ethernet port, so if you use wired internet you will need to use a Surface Dock.

Do I need a new monitor?

You don't need to buy a new monitor. Existing monitors work with the Surface, but need a new cable to be plugged into the Surface Dock, or directly into the Surface itself. The requirements are listed in the Buyer's guide, and the XMA Hub contains the items you can buy.

I use a desktop PC which I remote-connect into. In this case, can I get a new desktop instead of a laptop?

We are moving to Frame for corporate application access, so long-term there should not be a need for separate desktop computers. Where staff need to continue using a Desktop PC (e.g. to access corporate apps, research requirements etc), the IT Hardware Exception form should be filled out so we can assess.

Personal devices and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)

Can I continue to use my own device?

Use of a managed, University-owned device is the best way to undertake University work. The University recognises that staff will sometimes need to use personally-owned device for University work. For example, many of us access University email on personally-owned mobile phones. Such use is a security risk to the University. The Bring Your Own Device policy details the ways to mitigate this risk. 

Can staff still use email on their personal mobile phones? 

Yes, although this is being reviewed to require Microsoft InTune once this is set up and available (Jan 2022 planned date).


What will happen to old devices?

We already have a process for disposing of old IT equipment through the Sustainability team, and this won't change. Schools and Functions are responsible for arranging for the correct disposal of their IT equipment, and will need to complete the Disposal Request Form. Please read the IT Equipment Disposal Policy on the IMPS website for more information. 

Can I buy my old laptop?

I'm afraid not. It is not as simple as it seems (and not without cost to us) as we have to ensure that i) all University data has been removed and ii) no software is left on the device which is covered by a University license. By disposing of old devices through the Sustainability team, we ensure that any residual value in the devices is claimed by the University to fund future purchases.