How does IT departments do application / update / patch testing?

I am moving into a new position within IT. My main job will be testing new applications as well updates and patches. My assumption when it comes to testing is that I should have all of the computer models that we deploy to staff as test units. In my case, we use Dell products and we have about 5 different models that are deployed to staff. Unfortunately, I cannot get access to all 5 of these models to test apps on. My question is, how do other IT departments do testing to make sure that app/update deployments work on all systems? What is the best way to do testing without asking staff to give up their computer for a few minutes? Are there ways to simulate specific laptop models using virtualization software?
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
We use a number of techniques, we use a virtual system, which has the same build version and image that we deploy to Servers and Desktops, and then we actually have different types of Desktop PCs, to also deploy applications and patches to as well.

For laptops, because all our different, we have a standard build.

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prologic08Author Commented:
So you have created multiple virtual systems that duplicate the servers and desktops that you use. Am I able to duplicate a laptop down to the drivers that it uses? What if you want to test a driver update for certain hardware on the laptop?

We also use a standard build for all laptops but we haven't gotten to the point that we have all of the drivers in one standard build. We are currently using multiple images that work only on the laptop model that it was created for. We are in the process of building a universal image but we are not there yet.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
You will only be able to test drivers for hardware on the physical hardware.
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