Standard Operating Environment

What Does Standard Operating Environment Mean?

A Standard Operating Environment (SOE) refers to a given computer operating system (OS) and its associated hardware and software applications, used by an organization to cost-effectively and efficiently deploy these with custom configurations as required. SOEs also serve to expedite software updates and service packs (major updates to OSs). There are Standard Operating Environments for desktop computers, servers, workstations or thin clients, laptop computers and mobile devices.


There are numerous common names for SOEs, including the following:

  • Standard Image
  • Consistent or Common Operating Environment (COE)
  • Managed Operating Environment (MOE)
  • Managed Desktop Environment (MDE)
  • Standard Desktop Environment (SDE)

Techopedia Explains Standard Operating Environment

An SOE also facilitates information technology (IT) maintenance, support and management of computing equipment and networks throughout an organization. SOEs are the key to automating these IT responsibilities through standardization, speed and repeatability.

Microsoft and many other vendors publish their own tools and deployment guides for creating an SOE; however, some SOEs require manual configuration processes. Deploying disk images is commonly used to create an SOE for Mac OS X, Linux and similar systems. However, these systems must use the same architecture, and different drivers, as a separate step, need to be installed for each configuration.

In general, an SOE is company specific and there are no industry-wide standardized SOEs.


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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…