Standards for Technology in Automotive Retail

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Several factors should be taken into account when deciding when and where to add Personal Computers (PCs) or to replace green-screen terminals. If a user only uses green screens, and the application will not be changing, there appears to be no need to place a PC at that location. On the other hand, if the applications they use will be browser based, then this green screen should be considered for replacement with a PC.

Another situation where replacement might make sense would include the substitution of one PC in place of multiple green screens. People who need to run browser-based applications, or users that require multiple applications from possibly dissimilar networks, are candidates for PCs.

The schedule for the business system providers to convert to browser-based applications is also an important consideration. Given the current rate of change in the PC industry, a PC’s useful lifespan is approximately three years. After this time, consider refreshing and or replacing PCs.

9.2.1. Service Contract Considerations

While every new PC comes with a warranty, the duration and terms can vary greatly. Vendors can provide carry-in, mail-in, and/or on site repair service. In business situations the downtime and the extra expense of hauling or shipping the computer off for service is unacceptable. On-site repair plans with reasonable response times are usually preferred. Providers and service plans targeted at home users will usually not provide an acceptable level of service for more demanding business users.

9.2.2. Browser Software

Software used to view web pages will be the core software element of each client. A browser loads and displays pages and provides basic web-navigation tools. The dominant browser packages are Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. Browser software is generally available without cost and updates to supported versions will be available for download using the web. Each OEM will provide details on supported versions in their addendum.

9.2.3. Anti-Virus Software

An unintended result of using the Internet is the possibility of infecting workstations with malicious computer programs. These programs are often referred to as viruses. A detailed plan to provide anti-virus protection across the entire local area network is contained in the Dealership Security chapter.

One piece of that plan involves the use of anti-virus software on the individual client. This software should scan incoming files in order to prevent new viruses from reaching the client. It should also search the hard drives and memory for viruses that may already be hidden there. Aggressive use of anti-virus software will reduce the chances of harming an individual workstation and it can help eliminate problems before they infect multiple workstations.

Scans for viruses should be run whenever workstations with extremely important data are started or rebooted. This can help avoid a new virus activating and destroying any data. Keeping anti-virus software up to date in order to detect new viruses is essential. This requires applying each update as the software maker releases them. The discovery of a new virus by the software maker will prompt a new update release. See the Dealership Security chapter for more details on possible solutions.