March 14, 2016

Why 4 million installs of Windows 10 onto Pentagon computers means it’s more than time to upgrade

Laurent Slutzky


When it comes to the Windows 10 launch, I’ve heard it all.

Believe me, I understand. Microsoft doesn’t exactly have an excellent track record with OS rollouts. Nevertheless, this is a new Microsoft, one overseen by my favorite CEO, Satya Nadella. Ever since Mr. Nadella took over as CEO in early 2014, Microsoft has proven to be a robust, and most importantly, vibrant technology company that stands to be a major player moving forward. The company appears to have a real vision for the future, while at the same time understanding the importance of it’s core products. Best of all, Microsoft under Nadella is respecting those core products by keeping them fundamentally the same, while also innovating in an iterative way to ensure Microsoft’s relevance for many years to come.

That’s why the rollout of Windows 10 was so important. After the negative (and somewhat overstated, at least in my opinion) publicity surrounding the launch of Windows 8 — particularly among enterprise customers — it was imperative that Nadella’s Microsoft produce an enterprise-grade operating system that the company could proudly and loudly stand behind. Large customers might be willing to overlook a single botched operating system, but two in a row could cause significantly long-term problems for Microsoft.

In the early days of the Windows 10 release there were certainly some issues and complaints. Stability issues, along with concerns about security and privacy were all discussed at length by many technology pundits — including yours truly. That being said, Windows 10 press coverage was largely positive, with adoption across the Windows ecosystem driven largely by generally positive press — not to mention that free upgrade for existing Microsoft users.

Nevertheless, there was a not-insignificant number of companies that expressed concerns about transitioning over to Windows 10. For large bureaucracies — both in corporate America as well as in government — taking a chance on a new Windows operating system was simply more risk than they were willing to take on, at least until there was sufficient evidence that the launch was successful and largely without glitches. While there were a few legitimate grievances, overall Windows 10 was deserving of it’s mostly-positive reputation.

For months now, I’ve been telling my clients to get onto Windows 10. It’s free (for existing users), it utilizes better security features (something that is more and more imperative with each passing day), and it’s just plain better. Seriously, Microsoft has done a fantastic job with the flagship product, and there really isn’t any reason not to upgrade. In addition to simply being a better operating system, Windows 10 incorporates many of the secure cloud-based solutions that are now essential to business (and increasingly, personal) life.

Most importantly, and I can’t emphasis this enough, Windows 10 directly addresses the concerns that businesses, government, and society at large have regarding digital security and the rapidly growing risk of hackers. Fortunately, I am not a lone voice in the wind, as there is a security organization that appears to agree with my (long-standing) assessment.

That’s right, the Pentagon, otherwise known as the center of global military power and security, has deemed Windows 10 worthy of their most secure systems.

Over the next year, approximately 4 million Pentagon computers will be updated to utilize Windows 10 — this is important for a number of reasons.

Reason No. 1: The Pentagon is typically one of the last organizations to adopt this type of software update. This is largely due to the fact that they cannot risk bugs in the operating system being used against military assets which are utilizing the OS. The fact that the Pentagon is upgrading so many of their computers so comprehensively says more about their assessment of Windows 10 than I ever could.

Reason No. 2: The 4 million computers aren’t only in air-conditioned buildings in Nevada. In fact, a (classified) number of those computers are on submarines — perhaps even the kind that harbor radioactive ordinance (if you catch my drift). Obviously, having a computer freeze (or become hacked) at the wrong time can literally mean the difference between millions of lives surviving or not, so once again this emphasizes the sheer level of trust, and by extension the implicit endorsement, of the new operating system.

Reason No. 3: The Pentagon is making this move to improve their digital security. To clarify, the Pentagon is not upgrading to Windows 10 because one of their previous versions of Windows is not working properly. Instead, they are utilizing the very security features Microsoft built into the new operating system to improve the operational security of the United States Armed Forces. If that isn’t enough of an endorsement, then I simply don’t know what is.

Reason No. 4: The speed with which the Pentagon is conducting this upgrade is worthy of note as well. Typically, this type of rollout would take place over the course of several years. This time, however, the Pentagon expects the 4 millions computers to be fully upgraded within approximately 12 months. Now, I’m speculating here, but my guess is that the Pentagon thinks there is a significant advantage to being on the Windows 10 operating system, and is willing to commit considerable resources to ensuring that the rollout goes as quickly, and as smoothly, as possible

The bottom line is this: If you are a Windows user, you should be using Windows 10. The most important reason to switch is because it makes you more secure. Hacking has become more than a menace, it is now a threat to the digital infrastructure that the world has built over the past few decades. You can take advantage of the billions of dollars in Microsoft security R&D which led to the innovations in Windows 10, simply by upgrading.

After all, if it’s good for nuclear submarines — shouldn’t it be good for your business?