Because of its sheer size, the PC world sets the standards for many computer devices. For example, SEP's NEC PC plugs directly into the two computer projection devices used by the Geophysics Department. Additionally, the PC mass-market offers low prices, customer-friendly warranties and incremental hardware upgrades.
Perhaps more importantly, SEP's graduating students can afford an inexpensive PC, copy the SEP environment, and seamlessly continue their research wherever they may go. Former students with SEP computer environments on their own PCs may become an important source of bug fixes and software improvements.
Because the PC hardware is not tied to a single vendor's operating system, the potential utility of the hardware is multiplied. A Linux-PC can be configured to allow the user a boot-time choice between Linux and Windows. A Windows session allows a user to use standard PC software such as Excel, Power Point, or Quicken on his PC. The PC versions of these applications are often cheaper than the corresponding Macintosh software. Also, SEP may want to experiment with Microsoft's Windows NT as an alternative future UNIX system.