US Department of Defense to start using Windows 8, buys $617 million worth of Microsoft licenses

While the US Congress was debating whether or not the government should go over the "fiscal cliff" last week, the US Department of Defense quietly issued a press release late on Friday that confirmed that parts of the military will be using a lot of new and upcoming Microsoft software products over the next few years.

The announcement confirmed that the DoD has signed a new three year software contract with Microsoft worth $617 million. The press release stated:

Under the agreement, the Army, Air Force and DISA (Defense Information Systems Agency) can begin using the newest versions of Microsoft products, including Microsoft Office 2013, SharePoint 2013 and Windows 8, officials said, adding that Office 2013 provides enhanced security and content management tools.The package has been customized to meet the specific security needs of the Defense Department.

While $617 million sounds like a lot of money (and, well, it is), the DoD claims this new contract is the best price it has received from Microsoft compared to earlier agreements. The US Army says it will save $70 million a year for each of the three years the contract is in place.

Source: US Department of Defense | Image via US Department of Defense

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I doubt very much that many people in DoD outside of DISA will be using Windows 8 until the Security Technical Implementation Guide (STIG) is finished and so far they only have a draft out.

See here: http://iase.disa.mil/stigs/ or more specifically here: http://iase.disa.mil/stigs/os/windows/win8.html

Its really worth a read to see the extra stuff you have the ability to shut off and in turn decrease your attack surface. Of course if you implement all the changes you end up with a very secure and far less functional OS so choose wisely

They've also got guides on there for other versions of Windows, Internet Explorer, Office, Red Hat 5 and a variety of things.

For many in DoD IA (Information Assurance) these are the "you shalt do these or no connection for you" rulebooks.

I see it as a waste of tax payer money as well, but I don't know all the specifics. They have to spend money on IT stuff...I realize that. But if they upgraded all their systems from Windows 7 to Windows 8 then that is a waste of my money IMO.

Shadrack said,
I see it as a waste of tax payer money as well, but I don't know all the specifics. They have to spend money on IT stuff...I realize that. But if they upgraded all their systems from Windows 7 to Windows 8 then that is a waste of my money IMO.

You want your government to be running outdated OS's? Windows 7 is already outdated compared to Windows 8. And Windows 8 brings so much new security and other goodies to the OS.

Shadowzz said,

You want your government to be running outdated OS's? Windows 7 is already outdated compared to Windows 8. And Windows 8 brings so much new security and other goodies to the OS.
Your argument is invalid, Windows 7 is far from being obsolete and it doesn't even make any sense for them to upgrade to Windows 8. They're won't be playing with live tiles the whole day like you..

yowanvista said,
Your argument is invalid, Windows 7 is far from being obsolete and it doesn't even make any sense for them to upgrade to Windows 8. They're won't be playing with live tiles the whole day like you..

Windows 8 has much more to offer than just a revamped interface. The whole UI whining got old - fast.

yowanvista said
Your argument is invalid, Windows 7 is far from being obsolete and it doesn't even make any sense for them to upgrade to Windows 8.
His argument is in every way valid. So, what you're saying is that it doesn't make sense for them to ugprade to something that's more secure, stable, and faster.

They're won't be playing with live tiles the whole day like you..
Actually the Live Tile feature is pretty innovative..

yowanvista said,
They're won't be playing with live tiles the whole day like you..

**shakes head** oh dear oh dear. I was unaware that was all the difference was between 7 and 8... oh no wait, it's not. There's a whole heap of intuitive additions and improvements.

yowanvista said,
Your argument is invalid, Windows 7 is far from being obsolete and it doesn't even make any sense for them to upgrade to Windows 8. They're won't be playing with live tiles the whole day like you..

So? Why should live tiles keep anyone from upgrading? There's nothing wrong with the Start Screen for business use.

Dot Matrix said,
There's nothing wrong with the Start Screen for business use.

Exactly. I for one can't wait until you can use share charm to share ERP with CRM, etc.

Yet another waste of tax money.. They just threw all this money on a useless OS when they could well have invested elsewhere..

I dunno, guess the army dont allow hipsters? My tax money is in good hands, better used in high quality software like Windows 8 Pro, than those fragile iToys with Apple Maps lol just imagine the army bombing your house instead of Israel, all thanks to bogus iMaps...

WinRT said,
I dunno, guess the army dont allow hipsters? My tax money is in good hands, better used in high quality software like Windows 8 Pro, than those fragile iToys with Apple Maps lol just imagine the army bombing your house instead of Israel, all thanks to bogus iMaps...

Erm the American Government has satellites to watch the earth live in greater detail then Google, Microsoft or Apple can ever offer

WinRT said
My tax money is in good hands, better used in high quality software like Windows 8 Pro, than those fragile iToys with Apple Maps lol just imagine the army bombing your house instead of Israel, all thanks to bogus iMaps...
Not all Apple products (or "iToys", as you call it).

yowanvista said,
Yet another waste of tax money.. They just threw all this money on a useless OS when they could well have invested elsewhere..

I'd much rather our military upgraded the systems that run the whole of my countries defenses. So i think they've done a damn good thing.

This tells you essentially nothing about the overall success of Windows 8 - they've landed a particular mega client that was always likely to come to them given the history. It's a pretty awesome contract to have though.

Whether or not Windows 8 is successful however will depend on whether it succeeds in maintaining and or extending Microsoft's reach and profit in the market as a whole. Whether it will do that is still an unknown and one big headline contract win won't decide that.

hold on, was Windows 8 approved by the NSA yet? I thought most DoD systems had to have OS's that went through NSA testing first

Before every one sings "Hallelujah" and thinks that Windows-8 is going to be a huge success, re-read the following sentence from original article above:

The package has been customized to meet the specific security needs of the Defense Department.

Notice the key word "customized." I wonder how much the UI has been altered to fit the intense data entry needs and requirements of the DOD?

TsarNikky said,
Before every one sings "Hallelujah" and thinks that Windows-8 is going to be a huge success, re-read the following sentence from original article above:

The package has been customized to meet the specific security needs of the Defense Department.

Notice the key word "customized." I wonder how much the UI has been altered to fit the intense data entry needs and requirements of the DOD?


Hi Mr. can't-read-what-I-quote.
Customized to meet specific SECURITY needs...

The only real UI difference between Win7 and Win8 is the start screen vs. start menu. How much "intense data entry" do you do in either of those? None. You launch an app, and do your "intense data entry" there. Win7 and Win8 are equally suited at this task.

TsarNikky said,
Notice the key word "customized." I wonder how much the UI has been altered to fit the intense data entry needs and requirements of the DOD?

UI Changes? You want them to remove the peek button on password fields????


The only customizations are just what thenetavenger says. Hardening default security policies in the OS. forcing higher level of encryption, etc.

I find this rather comforting...

Apple and Google has been throwing money at getting security requirements 'reduced' so that they could fill some of these contracts.

Google online services and OS X don't have the security requirements (OS X currently is only allowed in closed deployments), which is why Google and Apple has been trying to get congressional committees to change the contract requirements.

Remember when technology companies pushed for higher security?

thenetavenger said,
I find this rather comforting...

Apple and Google has been throwing money at getting security requirements 'reduced' so that they could fill some of these contracts.

Google online services and OS X don't have the security requirements (OS X currently is only allowed in closed deployments), which is why Google and Apple has been trying to get congressional committees to change the contract requirements.

Remember when technology companies pushed for higher security?


Haha, we all know Google doesn't give a rats ass about security
Look at Android, or the fact that your data is saved plain text (vs MS their military grade encryption). Chrome in challenges depends more on the security MS provides with Windows (considering Google requires Windows 7 with UAC enabled and all the goodies MS created.

Shadowzz said,

Haha, we all know Google doesn't give a rats ass about security
Look at Android, or the fact that your data is saved plain text (vs MS their military grade encryption). Chrome in challenges depends more on the security MS provides with Windows (considering Google requires Windows 7 with UAC enabled and all the goodies MS created.

Actually Chrome requires XP SP2 at the minimum. Not Windows 7. Also Android is built with a sandboxing system that explicitly denies access to private data unless you give permission, there's also full device encryption...I could go on but you likely won't "give a rats ass" because what I've said proves you wrong.

Why wouldn't they update their OSs right away, it's your tax dollars at work, ain't the military paying for it. Not like business who can't afford to upgrade all their computers.

Please - now you're fishing. Unless you have hooptie graphics, any computer that can run Windows 7 can run Windows 8 pretty much without exception (and the list of hooptie GPUs that can run Windows 8 is itself rather long - my own AMD HD5450 is on that list).

Kamran Mackey said,
You were a big fail, jerk. I love Windows 8. If you don't like the start screen, then REMOVE it!

I love windows 7, if you like Aero then... oh wait, you can't.

Motto :windows98osr2,jump windows me, windows xp, jump vista, windows 7, jump windows 8,...

JHBrown said
It still is!
I find it funny how you think that something that has several improvements such as security, stability, boot/shutdown times and overall better performance is a fail..

Brony said,
Motto :windows98osr2,jump windows me, windows xp, jump vista, windows 7, jump windows 8,...
Why would you jump over something that's better in several ways.

While I am a staunch Windows 8 defender and really like the product myself, can I just point out that buying a software assurance contract with Microsoft does not automatically mean they will be deploying the latest version of those products. Therefore this article's title is half-bogus.

The article itself states... "Under the agreement, the Army, Air Force and DISA can begin using the newest versions of Microsoft products, including Microsoft Office 2013, SharePoint 2013 and Windows 8, officials said, adding that Office 2013 provides enhanced security and content management tools.". Note the can begin, not will begin.

My company for instance is now buying Office 2013 licenses, even though we continue to deploy Office 2010. This is because Microsoft only ever sells a license for the most recent version.

Edit: Just noticed Raa posted a similar comment above while I was composing mine. Apologies dude.

Not sure why you're arguing with the folks saying they have an agreement that gives them access to licenses in the Office and Windows. When they are ready to deploy they have purchased the licenses.

vcfan said,
you just quoted something that shows they made the deal specifically for the software.

really,its a sickness for you guys

Enterprise will have nothing to do with Windows 8.....

U.S Government

“[The agreement] recognizes the shift to mobility,” Simpson said. "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."

oh snap

Since Enterprise will have nothing to do with Windows-8 (and rightfully so), unless major rework is done with the UI for laptop/desktop users, will never attain the success or acceptance that XP and Windows-7 have experienced.

Key words here are "can begin using". It doesn't say that they will start using Windows 8, and more than likely for security and compatibility reasons, they won't begin using it anytime soon.

All this is is a renewal of contract.

As I mentioned before, that's exactly what it is. They have the ability to use it, but it's unlikely they'll roll it out immediately...

Wrong. The DOD migrates to new OS releases very quickly. Windows 8 will be the same but I guess the fact that Windows 8 will be successful causes you great butt hurt.

ingramator said,
Wrong. The DOD migrates to new OS releases very quickly. Windows 8 will be the same but I guess the fact that Windows 8 will be successful causes you great butt hurt.

No wonder those jet fighter plans were stolen by china without the americans knowing.
Must feel great to be public beta testers!

n_K said,

No wonder those jet fighter plans were stolen by china without the americans knowing.
Must feel great to be public beta testers!

If those punks from Anonymous mainly use Linux servers for their DDOS attacks. Imagine what those Chinese hackers can do....
Besides a network can be safe without being OS dependent.

ingramator said,
Wrong. The DOD migrates to new OS releases very quickly. Windows 8 will be the same but I guess the fact that Windows 8 will be successful causes you great butt hurt.

Nice job bringing down the maturity level...
Care to give us a source for your claim?

I'm mostly stunned to hear the government will be using software less than five years old. I know they keep some systems up to date, but was it always at this scale?

Though I realize this might be the most economical time to do upgrades in over five years.

Bear in mind that not only is the software customized for them but we're talking about the DoD, not the department of agriculture or parks and services (Which still have plenty of XP).

Can I just point out that this is merely an agreement to be ABLE to use the newer versions of Microsoft's products. Like any major licensing, these agreements usually have to be renewed every few years.

It's more likely this is just a renewal of the deal for the licenses DoD is currently using. Sure it gives them the ability to use Win8, but doesn't mean they are...

Our agreement at work would be the same. We still use XP in many locations, but we are licensed to use Win7 (and 8 when we renew our agreement this year)

uhhh... this deal was struck specifically for the software,if you actually read the press release.


Under the agreement, the Army, Air Force and DISA can begin using the newest versions of Microsoft products, including Microsoft Office 2013, SharePoint 2013 and Windows 8, officials said, adding that Office 2013 provides enhanced security and content management tools.


“[The agreement] recognizes the shift to mobility,” Simpson said. "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."

I know it hurts for you to hear that Windows 8 is doing well,but lets try not to spread misinformation

I think he's saying the same thing you are. Sounds like a typical Enterprise Agreement. Just because you have access to the licenses doesn't mean you'll deploy them all. If they are on Windows this is normal. Those enterprises with Windows will eventually want to upgrade to the current version and the right conditions and usage, Enterprise agreements can save a ton. And it's all better than Google.

vcfan said,

I know it hurts for you to hear that Windows 8 is doing well,but lets try not to spread misinformation

On the contrary, it "hurts" you to hear anything you perceive negative towards Win 8.
Raa made no mention of his opinon of Win 8, infact he is merely raising the point on how Enterprise Licenses work
but in your defensive mindset you have taken it as an attack on win 8 and trying to argue a point which he was not making.

This is no news for anyone who has common sense. Or does anyone here actually believe that they will just upgrade hundreds of workstations, all ot once? That's not the way migrations work, especially in the initial phase.

I work for Microsoft Consulting Services as a Windows deployment consultant and we help customers deploy Windows using zero touch using System Center Configuration Manager to serveral workstations initially using Proof of Concept environment while at customer site and yes, the US government is one of our customers. :-)

Everyone with an Enterprise Agreement should be deploying the OS, Office, and all other software using SCCM or an alternative solution. That still doesn't mean that they will deploy it to every workstation. In fact I doubt it. A staged roll out is more likely. For all we know they just renewed and existing Agreement. Everyone renews on a cycle, generally 3 years and every renewal provides licenses to the current versions of whatever products are covered under your agreement. This is business as usual and obviously Microsoft, rightly, is using it to their benefit.

- Kaboose - said,
1. add w7 start screen
2. remove metro crap
3. downgrade to W7
4. oh wait
5. what a waste of taxpayer money, please justify
6. facepalm to the max

customized to meet the specific security needs of the Defense Department

This means the default settings are changed to the required security needs. For example, scripting disabled in Office, and other things that a normal IT department would implement.

Facepalm

- Kaboose - said,
1. add w7 start screen
2. remove metro crap
3. downgrade to W7
4. oh wait
5. what a waste of taxpayer money, please justify
6. facepalm to the max

Yeah because it totally makes sense to use a less secure OS (Win 7) for something like the DoD/Army. Places like this will also benefit from Win 8 features like Storage Spaces.

And there is no "start screen" on Win 7. Think you mean the Start Menu.... another person who hates Win 8 who don't know what they're talking about. What a surprise!!

- Kaboose - said
1. add w7 start screen
The newer Windows 8 login screen is better, so why would they go back to the Windows 7 version.

- Kaboose - said
3. downgrade to W7
Downgrade to something that's inferior, oh yeah, definitely a good idea.</sarcasm>

The start screen is easy to use, you basically just click on the tile you want. And Windows 8 is exactly like Windows 7, except with a new added UI and new features.

Yes, because they are all stupid. Most of the military personnel are right out of high school. They are a young generation and know how to use computers, phones and electronics. They probably know this stuff better than you. They also go through training which is a technical school. They obviously have the latest software and have up to date hardware. Good job stereotyping.

Government contracts have such a great reputation in how they choose things...back story is probably more interesting...and there almost always is one.

Shadrack said,
I detest the "spend it or lose it" budget philosophy of all of our Government bureaucracies. It just encourages waste.

You really think this was just wasting their surplus? You must be delirious.

700+ million. Windows 7 also sold 60 mill in its first 2 months. Windows 8 sold 40 mill in its first month. Looks like Windows 8 is going to outsell WIndows 7 in its first 2 months.

They upgraded pretty quickly to Vista too, I don't remember hearing them do anything with Windows 7 though?

The Army and DISA upgraded to 7 and phased out Windows Vista altogether a while back. I was in charge of overseeing the migration of my brigade at Fort Lewis, WA. Not sure why there wasn't an official "announcement", but we did upgrade.

Ezekiel Carsella said,
oh cool. thought y'all used linux now?

I highly doubt a US Marine would be best pleased if, when trundling across a battlefield in Afghanistan, their X Server had crashed and dropped them back to CLI.

Gerowen said,
The Army and DISA upgraded to 7 and phased out Windows Vista altogether a while back. I was in charge of overseeing the migration of my brigade at Fort Lewis, WA. Not sure why there wasn't an official "announcement", but we did upgrade.

Weird, I have yet seen a computer in the military running Vista. The one I use runs XP, and the ones I used down range were slowly being upgraded to Windows 7.

The title is misleading, all they are doing is buying Software Assurance. They've made no announcement about running Windows 8.

What is missing there is the side deal that DOD did with Stardock for the use of Start8, so they can retrieve their start button and menus. LOL