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The Army has decided to upgrade all of its computers, like those shown here (at the NCO Academy's Warrior Leaders Course) to Windows Vista. It says the adoption will increase its security and improve standardization. It also plans to upgrade from Office 2003 to Office 2007. As many soldiers have never used Vista or Office '07, it will be providing special training to bring them up to speed.  (Source: U.S. Army)
Army will upgrade all its computers to Vista by December

For those critics who bill Microsoft's Windows Vista a commercial failure for failing to surpass Windows XP in sales, and inability to capitalize in the netbook market, perhaps they should reserve judgment a bit longer.  Just as Windows 7 hype is reaching full swing in preparation for a October release, the U.S. Army announced that like many large organizations, it will wait on upgrading to Windows 7.  However, unlike some, it is planning a major upgrade -- to Windows Vista.

The U.S. Army currently has 744,000 desktop computers, most of which run Windows XP.  Currently only 13 percent of the computers have upgraded to Windows Vista, according Dr. Army Harding, director of Enterprise Information Technology Services.

It announced in a press release that it will be upgrading all of the remaining systems to Windows Vista by December 31st.  The upgrade was mandated by a Fragmentary Order published Nov. 22, 2008.

In addition to Windows Vista, the Army's version of Microsoft's Office will also be upgraded.  As with Windows, the Army is forgoing the upcoming new version -- Office 2010 -- in favor to an upgrade to Office 2007.  Currently about half of the Army's computers run Office 2003 and half run Office 2007.

The upgrade will affect both classified and unclassified networks.  Only standalone weapons systems (such as those used by nuclear depots) will remain unchanged.  Dr. Harding states, "It's for all desktop computers on the SIPR and NIPRNET."

Army officials cite the need to bolster Internet security and standardize its information systems as key factors in selecting a Windows Vista upgrade.  Likewise, they believe that an upgrade to Office 2007 will bring better document security, and easier interfacing to other programs, despite the steeper learning curve associate with the program (which is partially due to the new interface, according to reviewers).

Sharon Reed, chief of IT at the Soldier Support Institute, says the Army will provide resources to help soldiers learn the ropes of Windows Vista.  She states, "During this process, we are offering several in-house training sessions, helpful quick-tip handouts and free Army online training."

The U.S. Army will perhaps be the largest deployment of Windows Vista in the U.S.  Most large corporations keep quiet about how many Windows Vista systems versus Windows XP systems they've deployed.  However, past surveys and reports indicate that most major businesses have declined to fully adopt Windows Vista.  Likewise, U.S. public schools and other large government organizations have only, at best, partially adopted of Vista.


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RE: big security hole
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 5/23/2009 4:44:46 PM , Rating: 5
Ditto. This is a solid decision.


RE: big security hole
By Lord 666 on 5/23/2009 5:15:30 PM , Rating: 2
It just took time for the hardware to catch up to Vista.

Going to check out the e-learning material the Army has posted for use with my company. Was waiting until all of the machines were modernized with a Vista migration in the fall.


RE: big security hole
By foolsgambit11 on 5/23/2009 5:36:04 PM , Rating: 2
Not only that, but it always takes time for major institutions to move to a new OS. You deploy in a small environment, work out the kinks, and ensure that it performs as expected with all of the software you use. Additionally, by waiting, issues that weren't apparent at release get fixed by the manufacturer. Three years after release is about the normal timeframe for new OS adoption by institutions.

As for the Office upgrades, it's about time. I was still using Office 97 on some DOD computers as late as early 2008 (last time I was working for DOD). Although, now that I think about it, they were 'stand alone' - at least, they weren't hooked up to SIPR or NIPR, so they still might not get an upgrade.


RE: big security hole
By civilgeek on 5/23/2009 5:24:23 PM , Rating: 1
I don't find this as a solid decision for the taxpayers dollars. You don't upgrade to an OS platform at the end of its lifecycle. In 3 years time microsoft will drop support for vista and we will once again be paying for the next upgrade. They should wait the next 6-18 months for the release of 7 and maybe sp1 and then upgrade for a lot longer product cycle and ensured support (security patches). This is not a smart move and yet just another short sited waste of our hard earned money.


RE: big security hole
By foolsgambit11 on 5/23/2009 6:05:45 PM , Rating: 2
It's not like they can't use Vista after its lifecycle is over - XP's lifecycle is already over, and they're still using it. Excepting extended support, which continues until 2014, but if we're counting that, then Vista's extended support continues to 2017. Still, the end of mainstream support for XP probably played a key role in the decision to upgrade to what is ready and available now. So it is possible they'll upgrade to Windows 7 come 2012.

However, the military currently has to support both Vista and XP. There should be some savings realized from having to support only one platform (although probably not near the cost of upgrading). Additionally, having known plenty of S6 personnel (that's the military's staff section that handles computer systems), the simpler things can be made for them, the more likely they won't screw it up.

And even more, Windows 7 won't be ready for military deployment in 6-18 months. Even as polished as 7 appears to be at this point, for the sake of security, the military will probably wait until it's been out for a couple of years and is on SP1 before it considers a full-scale upgrade. I doubt they can wait until 2012 to upgrade from XP. In the meantime, though, they'll be getting computers to replace old machines, and so they'll be getting Vista machines anyway. They'll be just about ready to move away from Vista at the same moment its mainstream support ends.


RE: big security hole
By Noliving on 5/23/2009 9:38:10 PM , Rating: 2
I disagree, this isn't upgrading to an OS at the end of its life cycle, this is the begining to middle part of this lifecycle, even with windows 7 to be launched later this year. Windows 7 is said to be much more expensive then windows vista, it's more expensive to do it your way where you upgrade the OS all the time like ever 3 years. When it comes to the US military they use what works and how effective it is, not how old it is, I mean for crying out loud the US military is still using .50 caliber machine guns from the korean war in iraq and afghanistan. You have to remember: If its stupid and it works it aint stupid.


RE: big security hole
By civilgeek on 5/23/2009 10:45:36 PM , Rating: 2
You can't compare the lifecycle of xp and vista and expect the same. XP has been the most successful OS microsoft has ever produced and has been out for almost a decade now. It is the mainstay of millions of businesses right now and still in millions of homes... this is why it is still supported and will be for some time. Vista by all means was a failure both publically and especially for businesses. The military only has 13% conversion from the artical above and your not going to see a huge cost associated with that small of numbers. In addition, most businesses have not made the leap yet to Vista because there really wasn't a reason for them to jump. The moral of the story is Microsoft WILL stop supporting Vista much sooner than your seeing with XP because its lifetime was short along with its distribution. In addition, windows 7 is built on Vista... why would it be less secure? It is a more refined product that learned from Vista.

Windows 7 is the answer and with support for XP extended to cover till SP1 this is an ill advised upgrade.


RE: big security hole
By foolsgambit11 on 5/24/2009 4:33:34 PM , Rating: 3
XP will be covered for 5 more years, but only for security hot-fixes, and only for those who pay for extended life cycle support. Mainstream support is over. Period.

Vista will be under mainstream life cycle support for the next 3 years, where feature and security hot-fixes will be released for free to all users. After that, it will be in extended life cycle support, with the same caveats as XP currently has.

Windows 7 will have the same life cycle times as Vista (5 & 5). By the time the military is comfortable with moving to Win7 (about 2 years after it is released), it will be as close to the end of its life cycle as Vista currently is.

----------------

If the military has a million Windows boxes (one for every other Soldier, Sailor, Airman, and Marine, approximately) then it needs about 830,000 new Vista licenses. We can assume that they'll get a good deal on a purchase like that, but let's say they pay $100/license anyway. That's $83 million. The military could buy one less F-22, pay for the upgrades, and still have over $260 million left over. Or, if you insist on the taxpayer directly paying for it, then each individual American's part of the $83 million amounts to about 13 cents. If you count payroll taxes as part of your tax burden (it kind of is, in a way), then your portion would be about 22 cents.

Consider that supporting multiple OSes where this isn't necessary puts undue strain on the military's IT resources. Upgrading all computers to Vista, once complete, will allow IT to better secure military networks against foreign threats (not just because Vista is more secure, but because settings can be universal, and homogeneity prevents errors).

So, let me ask you: Would you really refuse to pay 22 cents to protect America?!?!


RE: big security hole
By Strandwolf on 5/24/2009 11:38:27 PM , Rating: 2
Why don't we just ban box cutters?


RE: big security hole
By Gholam on 5/24/2009 12:24:18 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, the .50 M2 Browning Machine Gun is a 1921 design.


RE: big security hole
By foolsgambit11 on 5/24/2009 4:39:15 PM , Rating: 2
I think he meant that there are specific 50 cals that were used in the Korean War and are still used today. Or, to put it in clear terms, there are instances of class 'FiftyCal.M2', with creation dates during the Korean War, being used by the project 'USArmy'.


RE: big security hole
By codeThug on 5/24/2009 11:44:31 PM , Rating: 2
either way, i wish i had one


RE: big security hole
By Hoser McMoose on 5/25/2009 1:59:09 PM , Rating: 2
Windows Vista will be in Mainstream Support (new features, service packs and whatnot) until, at a minimum, April of 2012. It will then be in Extended Support (security fixes) until at least April of 2017. Note that these are minimum dates could potentially be extended, though not contracted.

Microsoft's support life cycle policy is fairly well documented:

http://support.microsoft.com/gp/lifepolicy

The specific details for Vista are here:

http://support.microsoft.com/lifecycle/?p1=11707

As an FYI, Windows XP is currently in the 'extended support' phase of it's life. Mainstream Support ended last month. Windows 2000 has been in Extended Support for a while (Mainstream Supported ended back in 2005) and support will be fully discontinued in a bit over a year.


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