Student Guide to Technology at Williams

OIT recommends Apple and Dell computers for their reliability and configurations.  There is a local authorized Apple repair shop in Williamstown and Dell has service technicians in the area who make service calls to the college for computer requiring warranty repair.

Williams College is committed to supporting both PCs and Macs. Academic departments and our public labs are split evenly although departments tend to choose one platform or the other depending on the software they use. Contact the departments of your interest to see if they have a recommendation. Administrative departments are mostly PC.

See our specific model recommendations and methods for puchasing below.

Student Computer Purchasing

For Apple computers we recommend either MacBook Pro or MacBook Air
Apple computers can be purchased with an academic discount through the Apple Store for Education: http://www.apple.com/us_edu_357437/shop

For Dell computers our recommended models and academic discounts can be accessed here: http://www.dell.com/williams

If you already have a computer or plan to purchase another brand they should meet these minimum specifications:

Laptop or Desktop Computers

  • 13", 14" or 15.6" screen
  • Intel Core i3, Core i5 or Core i7 processor
  • 8gb of RAM
  • 500GB SATA hard drive or 256GB Solid State Drive
  • Mac OS 10.10 or Windows 7

For any model computer we recommend getting at least a three year Service Plan/warranty.

Getting on the Williams network

Configuration of your computer for the Williams network can be done after your arrival on campus but you have the ability to do it yourself following the simple instructions on our FirstDays webpage beforehand. If you choose to wait, there will be technicians to assist in this process prior to the start of class.

Office Software

Please note: Microsoft is now offering two methods for purchasing Office. Office Home and Student are suites that purchase and keep or Office 365 online which is a subscription purchase for a set period of time.

Given the multiple free options to open and edit Office documents you may find you don't need to purchase a copy for your own computer (see below).

  • Your Williams College account comes with access to G Suite for Education these include: Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc. These apps can open most Word and Excel files, and save in those formats as well.
  • Office 365 online is currently being offered for free to students that sign up with their williams.edu email address. More info here: https://products.office.com/en-us/student/office-in-education
  • Other free software like LibreOffice or OpenOffice can open and edit Office files.
  • All public campus computers have Office installed as well as other applications that are used frequently used in academic work.

For Office suite purchasing please take a look at the different options from the Microsoft Office for education page. The standalone version of Office for Home and Student is currently $139.

Anti-virus Software

Sophos Anti-Virus will be provided for student computers. If you plan on using your PC computer before September and you have already received your Williams account information (username and email password), you should uninstall any existing anti-virus software that came with the computer (usually a trial version) and install Sophos from the OIT Software download site (http://oit.williams.edu/software). If you have not received your Williams account information, then continue using your existing AV software until you do.

Printing

There are many public network printers available at Williams, in the Library, OIT, and other academic buildings, but only a few located in dorms. More information on printing to public pritners is located here: http://print.williams.edu

If you choose to bring your own printer there are many inexpensive options. You will need to decide whether you want a color inkjet or a black and white laser printer. A black and white laser printer will tend to be faster, be more efficient with consumables (toner lasts longer than inkjet cartridges), but will cost a bit more initially and be heavier.

Wireless Devices

Wireless internet, 'Purple Air', at Williams is currently available in all buildings on campus. All modern laptops will have compatible wireless cards. Full details on the Williams wireless network is available here: http://oit.williams.edu/help-docs/network/. Please do NOT bring your own wireless router or airport base station to campus as it will conflict with our wireless network.

Game consoles and other wireless devices like tablets, smartphones and e-book readers can join the Williams wireless network. For devices that do not easily connect to our network please log into our ticket system and submit a device registration request.

Backup

When shopping for a new computer, remember to think about a backup storage device. USB external hard drives allow for full disk backup and restore. All Williams students have Google Apps for Education accounts which come with unlimited storage, but keep in mind this ends upon graduation. Documents, pictures and other files can be saved to this cloud space and accessed from any computer with a network connection. Further information on backup can be found here: http://oit.williams.edu/help-docs/backup/.

Financial Aid

There are no scholarships available for purchasing a computer. However, financial aid recipients may be eligible for a one-time increase of their student loan by up to $2,000. Students interested in this program should contact the Office of Financial Aid to discuss.