The Home Office is rolling out XP-based Pentium 4 PCs with flat-screen monitors, as part of a £350m, 10-year IT contract with Sirius, a consortium of Fujitsu, PricewaterhouseCoopers and telecoms firm Global Crossing.
Under the training programme, which is managed for Sirius by training provider KnowledgePool, civil servants learn through two-and-a-half-hour seminars and a two-hour e-learning course.
The Home Office said the combination of e-learning and classroom training offered substantial savings.
"Upgrading to XP and providing this training should help to improve our productivity," said Chris Davison, IT training and services manager in the Home Office's Opportunities Training and Development Team.
"The e-learning course lasts about two hours but people can focus on what they need to learn by dipping in and out of it at their desktops when it suits them."
The Home Office is also offering a 15-minute video to people who are unable to attend the briefings because of holidays, illness or maternity leave.
KnowledgePool is using an automatic web-based booking system called Livebooker, which invites staff to a briefing as the software is rolled out in their area. The system also collects feedback from staff on the training they receive.
The roll-out of XP began in July after a pilot and is due to be complete by April 2005.