U.S. Army upgrades PCs to ... Windows Vista?

Just in time to prepare for an upgrade to Windows 7, the U.S. Army is upgrading to ... Windows Vista.

The upgrade will include getting rid of all the Office 2003 programs and installing Office 2007 in its place, and is scheduled for a Dec. 31 completion date. Half the Army's computers (they have 744,000 desktop units) have Office 2007 so far and 13 percent (44,000, more or less) are on Vista, which was released in January 2007. Windows 7 is supposed to launch before year's end, so the Army will be fully on Vista sometime after Microsoft's next generation OS is already launched.

According to the Army's press release,

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 mail functions.

The move is being made to upgrade security and make it even harder for hackers to infiltrate the Army's network. In other words, Matthew Broderick - no more access to WOPR for you.

It may sound a bit silly for the Army to be upgrading so long after the fact, but the military has been testing Vista since its release to determine how best to make all XP applications work in Vista. The Army can't afford to have any of its systems offline due to incompatibility problems. The Army's holding training sessions for its personnel who don't have previous experience with Vista, but many already have it at home, so the learning curve shouldn't be too steep.

For any soldiers or employees who've never used the OS, there are previews and initial training online here and here.