By Gary Sheftick and Delawese Fulton
May 20, 2009
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, May 20, 2009) -- The Army is migrating
all of its Windows-based computers to Microsoft's Vista operating system
to bolster Internet security and standardize its information systems.
The systems change, which includes swapping Office 2003 for Office 2007,
is set to be completed by Dec. 31.
About half of the Army's 744,000 desktop computers have already
installed Office 2007, estimated Dr. Army Harding, director of
Enterprise Information Technology Services for the Army's G-6. She said
about 13 percent of the computers have migrated so far to VISTA.
The migration was mandated in a Fragmentary Order published Nov. 22,
2008. It was sent out Army-wide as FRAGO 2 to Department of the Army
Executive Order 056-05.
"It's for all desktop computers on the SIPR and NIPRNET," Harding said,
referring to both the classified and unclassified networks. She added
that the only exemptions are standalone weapons systems.
First-time Vista users will discover added support for data encryption,
a new Windows Explorer, upgraded icons and navigation structure. There
are also graphical replications of clock, calendar, weather and Outlook
The switch to Office 2007 actually began earlier than the Vista
migration, Harding said.
The new Office suite provides more straightforward document security,
according to reviews, which add there's better integration throughout
applications. But the new tools interface is not always intuitive and
many reviews say there's a steep learning curve.
In the continental United States, the Army has installed Vista so far in
about 44,000 computers. Fort Campbell, Ky., is leading the charge with
more than 5,350 computers migrated to Vista, according to G-6 data.
Fort Stewart, Ga., has about 3,800 computers installed with Vista. Fort
Lewis, Wash., and Fort Drum, N.Y., both have more than 2,150 computers
Fort Jackson, S.C., has just over 1,000 of more than 7,500 computers
converted to Vista. But Directorate of Information Management officials
there say they are on track to meet the December deadline.
"The goal is to minimize the impact to the installation's training
mission," said Marcus D. Good, chief of the Information Technology
Systems Support Division at DOIM.
"We want to handle this migration in a way that makes sense to the
"As for the impact on Fort Jackson, the DOIM has been working with the
installation's IT professionals and Information Management Officers from
many different organizations to test Vista in a controlled and limited
deployment," Good said.
Fort Jackson's DOIM officials say the initiative will strengthen Army
LandWarNet security by reducing opportunities for hackers to access and
exploit government computer systems.
"The Army has been testing Vista since its release and has run it
through the Army Golden Master program. The Army Golden Master program
is responsible for the release of the Army standard baseline
configurations for commonly used computing environments within the Army
Enterprise Infrastructure, the team responsible for making sure
applications that ran on XP will run on Vista," Good said.
As with the implementation of any new technology, there will be
challenges to overcome -- not to mention this will be a change for users
who have gotten comfortable with Windows XP and Office 2003. The new
look and feel will take some time to adjust to, Good said.
The Soldier Support Institute staff was first to begin migrating to the
new operating system at Fort Jackson.
Sharon Reed, chief of IT at the Soldier Support Institute said the
division is providing several resources to facilitate the transition for
its employees and customers.
"During this process, we are offering several in-house training
sessions, helpful quick-tip handouts and free Army online training,"
Reed added that because several of the division's employees already use
Vista and Office 2007 at their homes, it has shortened the learning
curve for SSI overall.
The 171st Infantry Brigade started the Vista system last week, said
Lashanda Howard, DOIM Vista migration project leader.
Howard said the roll-out is well planned and strategic. Classroom
computers, dayroom and kiosk computers, new computers (such as life
cycle replacement computers) and computers with minimal impact to
mission readiness will be part of the initial implementation.
Soldiers and employees who have never used the operating system, can
preview it and begin training by visiting http://usarmy.skillport.com