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Army Deploying Vista On Hundreds Of Thousands Of Computers

The migration is driven by the better security offered in Windows Vista and Office 2007.

The Army is in the process of migrating hundreds of thousands of computers to Windows Vista to improve Internet security and upgrade information systems.

About 13% of Army computers, or roughly 44,000, have been migrated to the latest version of Microsoft's operating system, according to an article published by the Army News Service. The switch from Windows XP includes desktop computers on classified and unclassified networks.

The Vista migration is happening as the Army moves from Office 2003 to Office 2007. The switch to the latest version of the office productivity suite started before the Vista migration. The Army has installed Office 2007 in about half of its 744,000 desktops.

The Army has been testing Vista since its release in late 2006 and expects that users comfortable with XP and Office 2003 will need time to adjust to the new "look and feel" of the upgrades.

"During this process, we are offering several in-house training sessions, helpful quick-tip handouts, and free Army online training," Sharon Reed, chief of IT at the Soldier Support Institute, said in the article.

Vista has not been a success for Microsoft like previous versions of Windows. Reviewers of the OS have found it buggy, a resource hog, hard to install, and incompatible with legacy software. In addition, the operating system's new user interface has been difficult for many users.

Microsoft is hoping to leave Vista's problems behind with its next major version, Windows 7, which could be available this year.

The Army's switch to Vista is driven by the better security in Vista and Office 2007. The migration was mandated in an Army Executive Order in November.

Given the Army bureaucracy and testing requirements, it's unlikely it would move to Windows 7 anytime soon, despite it's being rated as a better OS in terms of usability. Nevertheless, in response to the Army migration, Microsoft said in an e-mailed statement Friday that the switch from Vista to Windows 7 would not present the same challenges as moving from XP to Vista.

"Our goal with Windows 7 is that it will run on the same hardware as Windows Vista and that the applications and devices that work with Windows Vista will also be compatible with Windows 7," the company said. "As a result, customers will be able to fully leverage their Windows Vista investments when they deploy Windows 7."

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on Windows 7. Download the report here (registration required).

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