Users attempting to access the Davidson College network from a computer running Microsoft XP (and perhaps other windows variants) are compelled to install a program called Perfigo CleanConnect, which subsequently installs more programs among them one called the ePolicy Orchestrator Agent, before being granted access. These programs essentially give the network administrators the power to make a user's system do certain things, such as always running a virus scanner in "on-access read/write" mode and installing the latest update from microsoft. Systems lacking the compulsory software or reported as infected, out of date, etc. can then easily be identified and appropriately quarantined or denied access.
Essentially speaking, the citizens of the network trade a bit of their freedom for increased security and reliability.
Furthermore, from a practical-slash-laziness perspective, Perfigo CleanConnect can be set to store a user's credentials and automatically log on to the Davidson Network whenever it is connected (ironically decreasing security). As a user, this is great: authentication becomes transparent and internet connectivity, via ethernet or wifi, seems to become a persistent and continuous quality of the computer.
I use an apple MacBook, however, and while I appreciate not being forced to install draconian software just to access the internet, clicking through the alternative web authentication interface every single time my computer wakes up from sleep is getting a little boring. In fact, if it takes about 5 seconds of my attention four times a day, then I'm losing roughly 6.53 minutes of my life each 14-week semester (thanks calcoolate.com).
There must be a better way. You can read about it here when I find it.