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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: Missing the point
By ncage on 5/23/2009 6:15:01 PM , Rating: -1
Ok first of all let me say what critical systems are we talking about? There should be no critical systems running on a consumer oriented OS whether it be Windows, MAC or Linux (unless its stripped to the bare essentials). Thats the job of small embeded hardened of OS Systems.

I remember reading a story where some MRI units got infected with the conficker work. Why in the world would you run any critical medical eqipment like this on windows or any consumer oriented OS and why would you have a MRI unit connected to the internet (i'm sure its probably because some lazy ass radiologist don't want to come in but instead want the MR images somehow transfered to their home computers). Whats next are we going to install embedded windows in pacemakers and have them running with windows?

I'm not saying all of this because i think windows sucks. Windows has its purpose but running critical systems like this is not what its made for or any other OS like it. I sure in the hell hope they don't put any critical military control systems in windows.

RE: Missing the point
By ncage on 5/23/09, Rating: -1
RE: Missing the point
By Darkk on 5/26/2009 12:48:11 AM , Rating: 2
Problem is more and more equipment are networked and designed that way to reduce complexity and wiring costs.

The issues are at two folds:

1) The MRI equipment didn't use proper firewall rules to only accept packets from other MRI equipment at the SAME hospital.

2) The system admins there didn't put in firewall restriction rules to disallow ALL internet traffic to ALL MRI machines. Doh!!! A simple thing to do!

Unfortunately, most IT departments at hospitals are usually understaffed or none at all. Or don't have the IT staff with the proper experience to do the right things.

So I guess they learned their lesson and changed their policy on MRI useage.

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