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Tens of thousands of federal workers are prohibited from upgrading to the latest versions, according to memos seen by InformationWeek.

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By Paul McDougall

InformationWeek

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March 2, 2007 12:00 PM

Citing concerns over cost and compatibility, the top technology official at the federal Department of Transportation has placed a moratorium on all in-house computer upgrades to Microsoft's new Windows Vista operating system, as well as Internet Explorer 7 and Office 2007, according to a memo obtained Friday by InformationWeek.

In a memo to his staff, the DOT's CIO Daniel Mintz says he has placed "an indefinite moratorium" on the upgrades as "there appears to be no compelling technical or business case for upgrading to these new Microsoft software products. Furthermore, there appears to be specific reasons not to upgrade."

Among the concerns cited by Mintz are compatibility with software applications currently in use at the department, the cost of an upgrade, and DOT's move to a new headquarters in Washington later this year. "Microsoft Vista, Office 2007, and Internet Explorer [7] may be acquired for testing purposes only, though only on approval by the DOT chief information officer," Mintz writes.

The memo is dated Jan. 19. In an interview Friday, DOT chief technology officer Tim Schmidt confirmed that the ban is still in effect. "We're analyzing different client software options and also integration issues," says Schmidt. Among the options the Transportation Department is weighing as a possible alternative or complement to Windows Vista are Novell's Suse Linux and, for a limited group of users, Apple's Macintosh hardware and software, he says.

Schmidt says the Transportation Department hasn't ruled out upgrading its computers to Windows Vista if all of its concerns about the new operating system -- the business version of which was launched late last year -- can be resolved. "We have more confidence in Microsoft than we would have 10 years ago," says Schmidt. "But it always makes sense to look at the security implications, the value back to the customer, and those kind of issues."

The DOT's ban on Vista, Internet Explorer 7, and Office 2007 applies to 15,000 computer users at DOT proper who are currently running the Windows XP Professional operating system. The memo indicates that a similar ban is in effect at the Federal Aviation Administration, which has 45,000 desktop users.

Compatibility with existing applications appears to be the Transportation Department's major concern. According to a separate memo, a number of key software applications and utilities in use in various branches of the department aren't Vista compatible. Among them are Aspen 2.8.1, ISS 2.11, ProVu 3.1.1, and Capri 6.5, according to a memo issued by staffers at the DOT's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Any prolonged ban on new Microsoft technologies by the federal government could have a significant impact on the software maker's bottom line, as Microsoft sells millions of dollars in software to the feds annually.

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I'm applauding to them for the IE7 ban :cool:

I can also see good reason because of lacking app compatibility to ban Vista.

The Office2007 ban however seems totally unfounded, as it can create the Office97-2003 format just fine. People using Office2000 and 2003 never had any problems reading my documents created with Office2007.

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I get Vista and IE7 ban, but I don't see the point with Office 2007.

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When I finally get around to getting enough money for a MacBook I will be installing Parallels just to run Office 2007, because lets face it Office for Mac sucks like a cheap Dutch ###### with AIDs.

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I get Vista and IE7 ban, but I don't see the point with Office 2007.

There are compatibility issues there too... for example Excel scripts, spreadsheets etc...

This can't be good fro MS.

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why the IE7 ban though? I mean whats incompatible with IE7?

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why the IE7 ban though? I mean whats incompatible with IE7?

A sane mind.

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Alot of "in-house" company programs created run on the IE6 engine. atleast, that would be my guess.

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I don't know why a memo would have to be sent out to the DOT banning "in-house" upgrades. Wouldn't they be supported by an IT staff who would do the upgrades instead of each user doing them individually? That doesn't make sense. I work for a government agency and we cannot do anything to the computers unless given express permission by our IT staff.

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why the IE7 ban though? I mean whats incompatible with IE7?

Internet Explorer 7 is incompatible with noobs that can't use computers properly.

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A sane mind.

IE7 turned me away from FF. And I was a very religious FF user and supporter. IE7 is much better than previous versions and as far as I can tell, far more secure (though I couldn't say for sure - I don't surf the net retardedly so I don't much have to worry about those kinds of things).

As much as I support MS, it's probably not a bad idea for a very important nationwide service to wait a bit on upgrading to Vista.

-Spenser

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I get Vista and IE7 ban, but I don't see the point with Office 2007.

In a word: Training.

Office 2007 completely scrambles the User Interface compared to what all the users are used to. Retraining and supporting tens of thousands of users is far more expensive that just buying the software.

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When I finally get around to getting enough money for a MacBook I will be installing Parallels just to run Office 2007, because lets face it Office for Mac sucks like a cheap Dutch ###### with AIDs.

Best post ever :devil:

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A sane mind.

Huh? You actually prefer IE 6 over IE 7? I think you might be the one with the sanity problem...

Unless there's some vital compatibility problem (in which case, they should just fix it) - they should definitely be upgrading to IE 7. It's free, and the security advantages are very significant.

What bugs me are the comments about Vista not offering significant improvements - are they on crack? Security in Vista is so incredibly better than XP (or OS X for that matter) that I can't believe anyone who did even the slightest bit of research could deny that.

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Huh? You actually prefer IE 6 over IE 7? I think you might be the one with the sanity problem...

Unless there's some vital compatibility problem (in which case, they should just fix it) - they should definitely be upgrading to IE 7. It's free, and the security advantages are very significant.

What bugs me are the comments about Vista not offering significant improvements - are they on crack? Security in Vista is so incredibly better than XP (or OS X for that matter) that I can't believe anyone who did even the slightest bit of research could deny that.

From a corporate IT point of view, upgrading over 60,000 people to IE7 and Vista doesn't make sense right now. There are too many things that could go wrong.

Let me set you an example: In our organization there are 7 sub-organizations. Within those 7 could be anywhere from 1 to 6 departments. Each department uses their own in-house applications. Some of these applications use IE6's engines and won't be upgraded to IE7 simply because it takes time, and because time is money. If we were to take down that application for a weekend, it could potentially lose us millions of dollars. Of course, we will eventually upgrade these applications, but it will take a while. The same thing goes for Vista. We're just now finishing rolling out SP2 for XP Pro, and still some computers don't have SP2 installed due to technical problems, site location, etc.

I think what it comes down to is you need a lot of resources and testing to be able to successfully upgrade to any new software platform, and sometimes an organization has to make a decision on whether or not to hold off until they can provide those resources to the testing, etc. It's not simply a decision based on dislike for new products (I'm sure that guy is running Vista at home, because I know I am).

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What bugs me are the comments about Vista not offering significant improvements - are they on crack? Security in Vista is so incredibly better than XP (or OS X for that matter) that I can't believe anyone who did even the slightest bit of research could deny that.

lmao.. I guess the DOT just do not want to click cancel or allow everytime they move their mouse.

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We're talking about the government. They better have a good reason to spend money on an upgrade and to risk having comptability issues because the data they work with is of "ultra importance".

People saying that Vista is more secure than XP, yes that's true for the average joe end-users. Here we're talking about federal workers in a federal building with a federal network that is probably full of proxies and firewalls and different layers of protection. XP with the latest updates in a well protected network can be quite secure.

If it works, why fix it?

I'm not surprised here.

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lmao.. I guess the DOT just do not want to click cancel or allow everytime they move their mouse.

:no:

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lmao.. I guess the DOT just do not want to click cancel or allow everytime they move their mouse.

I absolutely hate that particular Mac ad.

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I absolutely hate that particular Mac ad.

I definately think its one of the best... And so true. Don't get me wrong.. I LOVED Vista, but took it off due to third party support is horrible right now, its not Microsofts fault at all, its those lazy SOB companies that won't update their drivers. I have it sitting on my desk and am itching to put it back on as soon as the Hardware/Software support gets better.

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Huh? You actually prefer IE 6 over IE 7? I think you might be the one with the sanity problem...

Unless there's some vital compatibility problem (in which case, they should just fix it)

Unfortunately, it's easy to just tell what people "should" fix. After all, it's not you who're going to do it for them. It would cost them a lot of money, especially if it's about e.g. complex sites needing to be fixed, and if part of the organization would start upgrading, it would wreak all sorts of havoc. We're many at work who have had to downgrade to IE6 due to compatibility issues on websites and controls outside of our control. Things like very niched sites for our area of business, where the developers behind the code don't have resources to immediately start upgrading their web services for IE7. I can only imagine these sort of compatibility issues being the reason behind this policy, not because IE7's improved feature set of course. Unfortunately, the sort of disconnection with reality you hint at is exactly what I'm seeing so much of from Microsoft. :(

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I definately think its one of the best... And so true.

It's not true, that's why it's annoying as hell. They're definitely implying you have to answer UAC prompts just to send and receive email.

And to respond to the original topic: They won't allow upgrades to Vista for compatibility reasons, yet they're considering SUSE which will have even more compatibility issues.

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I'm applauding to them for the IE7 ban :cool:

I can also see good reason because of lacking app compatibility to ban Vista.

The Office2007 ban however seems totally unfounded, as it can create the Office97-2003 format just fine. People using Office2000 and 2003 never had any problems reading my documents created with Office2007.

Office 2007 can cause all kinds of problems in this environment: huge increase in tech support calls, training sessions, file format incompatibility (especially with automated systems).

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Huh? You actually prefer IE 6 over IE 7? I think you might be the one with the sanity problem...

Unless there's some vital compatibility problem (in which case, they should just fix it) - they should definitely be upgrading to IE 7.

...

Let me be the one to turn this around just a bit.

Perhaps Microsoft should have been the one to followed the standards a bit more, and not done som much 'embrace, extend, extinguish' with web standards.

If IE6 followed the standards, then IE7 following them would not be such a "big hurdle" in the corporate upgrade process. The fact that many "designed for IE" pages had problems when viewed with IE7 says an awful lot, doesn't it?

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This is ridiculous, M$ should pull out of USA.

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