Under a new directive all Department of Defense agencies that are still using legacy versions of Windows will upgrade to Windows 10 with immediate effect.
The Secretary of Defense has directed all agencies to standardize on Windows 10, with a reported goal of upgrading around “4 million devices and systems” by February 2017. The information was contained in a Microsoft blog post from February 17.
Windows 10 standardization planned for around 4 million devices
“I’m expecting all this to happen in a year. To me, this means they know their prior Windows machines aren’t that secure and this is of the highest importance. The DoD is typically the last to roll things out as it’s viewed as safer and more secure. The opposite is turn now. Hackers are moving so fast, the DoD needs the latest tech to combat it,” said Patrick Moorhead, President and principal analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy.
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Moorhead believes that the move is a vote of confidence in the capabilities of the latest version of Windows. “This also says to me that Windows 10 is ready for the broadest deployments inside corporations. The DoD wouldn’t be doing this many systems as fast if this weren’t the case,” Moorhead added.
As far back as November 2015 a memo was issued by Terry Halvorsen, CIO for the DoD, ordering all Combatant Commands, Services Agencies and Field Activities to deploy Windows 10. The aim is to improve cybersecurity at the DoD, cut IT costs and streamline the operating environment of IT.
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According to that memo the deployment should be completed by January 2017. However the CIO of each individual branch would be granted “limited waiver authority” for up to a year beyond that date. Any waivers beyond that date would be subject to approval from Halvorsen.
The DoD has a record of enthusiastic adoption of Microsoft operating system updates. In 2013 the U.S. Army, Air Force and Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) revealed plans to standardize on Windows 8 and move 75% of DoD employees to the operating system. The 3 year deal was worth $617 million.
According to another announcement from Microsoft, its Surface family of devices has been approved and placed on the DISA Unified Capabilities (UC) Approved Product List (APL). As a result bulk purchases of the devices by government agencies is now possible.