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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer  (Source: intomobile)
New contract saves DOD licensing fees, gives it access to Windows 8, Sharepoint 2013, and Office 2013

David L. DeVries has a tough job, serving as a deputy chief information officer (CIO) of one of the world's largest and most high tech organizations -- the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).  Mr. DeVries made a bold move signing a new three-year enterprise licensing deal with Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) to adopt Windows 8 and other cutting edge products.

I. Armed Forces Hop Onboard Windows 8

Given its touch-friendly user interface and consumer focus many power users, analysts, and tech enthusiasts expressed concerns about how the new Microsoft operating system would fare in the enterprise space.  Indeed, even in the consumer sector reports have been mixed regarding the platform's sales health.

While the DOD pickup is unlikely to silence the critics, it is a major score for Microsoft.  While its deployment may take a year or two, the DOD is the largest organization to commit to shifting at least some of its users onto the new Microsoft platform.
Windows 8 Surface
The DOD is reloading with Microsoft Windows 8. [Image Source: Microsoft]

The deal also is good for Microsoft's latest and greatest secure networking software, including Sharepoint 2013.  Also included is Microsoft's latest Office 2013 software, which launched in December.

Mr. DeVries comments, "How do we bring about better effectiveness for the warfighter, better improved security on the networks ... while reducing the cost of ownership?  We are the largest corporation out there, comprised of four military services. … No one comes close to our scale, so when we talk about something that produces a standardized way of buying, installing and maintaining [enterprise software], that’s a huge deal."

"There’s a move afoot throughout the department to bring about efficiencies in the [information technology] world.  We took a long, hard look at it … realizing that the Department of Defense relies upon the network and upon information technology to do its business."

The arrangement seems mutually beneficial.  For the DOD they will consolidate multiple smaller licenses from the four military service branches into a single, more stable contract.  The DOD estimates this will save "tens of millions over the course of several years through lower license and software assurance costs."

Microsoft, meanwhile gains a high profile advocate of its embattled Windows 8, should save some overhead on its end as well via consolidation, and safeguards itself against the volatility of multiple smaller contracts.

II. Commanders Praise Microsoft's Focus on Mobility

While some view Microsoft's newfound zeal for mobility to be a massive headache from an information technology perspective, Navy Rear Adm. David G. Simpson, DISA’s vice director and senior procurement executive, argues that for organizations willing to embrace the future it is a massive opportunity.

U.S. Navy
U.S. Navy commanders expressed excitement at Microsoft's new mobile focus, which they view as perfect for their highly mobile service force. [Image Source:]

He comments, "The agreement] recognizes the shift to mobility.  Microsoft is committed to making sure that the technology within the agreement has a mobile-first focus, and we expect to begin to take advantage of Microsoft's mobile offerings as part of our enterprise mobility ecosystem.  Bottom line: lower price for greater value."

The press release did not mention Microsoft's smartphone platform Windows Phone.   However, it is known that the DOD is currently working on mobile device management (MDM) software to support other platforms besides Research in Motion, Ltd.'s (TSE:RIM) fading BlackBerry platform, which comprises most of its current issued handsets.

Of course DOD IT sentiments should not necessarily be viewed as indicative of those of the greater IT community at large.  The U.S. Army infamously committed to the much-criticized Windows Vista, back in 2009, declining to move on to the latest Windows 7 release.


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RE: Our tax dollars at work
By dragonbif on 1/7/2013 12:41:04 PM , Rating: 2
Hate to tell you this but when you renew your agreement with Microsoft it is always for the latest software. They would not let you do one for say Windows XP or NT. We renew ours every year but we could do a 3 years like the DOD did.
This is standard stuff so I do not see a problem with it considering how many PCs they must have.

O and you do not have to buy PCs with the OEM Windows installed.

RE: Our tax dollars at work
By dragonbif on 1/7/2013 12:45:10 PM , Rating: 2
One more thing, you do not have to install Windows 8. With most agreements you can go back to the previous OS as long as it is still supported by Microsoft.

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