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, Microsoft 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.