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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 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.


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