Pentagon to Upgrade 4M Seats to Windows 10

John Lister's picture

The Department of Defense plans to upgrade four million staff members to Windows 10. It's a major boost for Microsoft given the security needs of the DoD.

Historically, government organizations have been slow to update operating systems. That's often because of the complexity of doing so across an entire network; for example, having to weigh up the problems of different computers on different systems, plus the hassle of having too many computers out of action even temporarily during an upgrade.

Major upgrades such as this have caused concern in the security community - especially when government organizations rely on older systems that are at significantly higher risk from hackers exploiting security flaws.

Some DoD Machines still on Vista

At the moment it's believed the DoD uses a mix of XP, Vista and Windows 7, with a few machines running non-Microsoft systems. Both the security risks and the costs of maintaining multiple systems have been cited in a memo by the departments IT chief. (Source:

In total, the department plans to upgrade four million seats. That's not quite the same as four million computers; in some cases a single computer is shared by multiple users, each with their own monitor, keyboard and mouse, counted as one "seat" per user.

The department hasn't confirmed what proportion of its total computers will be part of the upgrade, or whether those handling the most secure data such as operations details will be included.

Windows 10 Upgrade Complete within a Year

Perhaps the most surprising element of the upgrade is that the department plans to reach the four million seat goal by next January. Historically, many organizations usually wait until there's been plenty of time to find out about any security flaws which need patching; however, the DoD timetable suggests officials are confident in Microsoft's new approach of regular small updates rather than the old-style Service Pack system.

Unlike consumers, the department will be paying for Windows 10 but hasn't revealed the pricing.

Microsoft is already touring the deal as evidence that Windows 10 meets even the most rigorous security demands. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Is it a good idea for large organizations to get the latest editions of operating systems and other software as soon as possible? Should government departments wait longer for security holes and other teething troubles to be tackled? Does the DoD upgrade make you more confident about Windows 10 security?

Rate this article: 
Average: 4 (5 votes)


Dennis Faas's picture

Windows 10 still has major quirks, unfortunately. I'm having issues with the following: there is virtually no video support on older systems; the sound on my one computer cuts out 3-4 times a week (the one that happens to be my media center / server), and there are spontaneous crashes on all my systems for no apparent reason. Other than that, Windows 10 seems to work fine - but I'd say it's far from being anywhere near 100%. If corporations want to upgrade en masse then I'm quite certain they'll be dealing with the same headaches.

jamies's picture

I'm certainly not more confident about MS security - give it a little while for the DOD to start dealing with the problems, and for the extent of their activities to become public, and then the answer may well be upgraded (or would that be downgraded) from concerned to to a 'Maybe it's not too bad' status.

Especially of concern is the thoughts about MS concerns for systems security where their maintenance automatically installed the recent 'fix' that ignored the user Settings to not take details of their activities -
And set the "Connected User Experiences and Telemetry" service to run at all times that windows 10 was running.
That is as well as recording their drives Bitlocker keys.
Well that would only matter if the DOD actually bothers with such security - rather than just prosecuting those who try to breach the OS security.

Remember the 2 teenagers who accessed a system (was it DOD, NSA, or FBI) where the admin account and password were left as detailed in the publicly available install documentation where it stated the installer should change them from ----- and ----- I never read of the installers or their management getting anything as an alternative to promotions and salary increments.

alan.cameron_4852's picture

The headline is very misleading it s according to the article 4M seats.
A correction is in order with an apology.

Dennis Faas's picture

Sorry about that - not sure how that got through.

ecash's picture

you want to upgrade to an unproven OS..
One that has already shown that it has a few problems?
An OS that will probably require updates, and isnt REALLY finalized, yet or ever..
Who here thinks MS can stabilize and customize Win10 to be solid and SAFE enough for a NON-computer user to use??
I understand MS can customize and do things to help..But even with the Last few JETS, MS has had MANY problems..

kitekrazy's picture

I'll probably switch over by July 30 or make images just in case I miss W7. It seems OK on one of my older machines.
Turn off protected password sharing is broken in W10.

ecash's picture

Iv gone to Sites that request me to turn off AdBlocking...and I send a note to them, about placing a Note on the front page that they are willing to take responsibility for Any advert or Script that may infect my machine from their site..
What are the Odds of them agreeing?

About the SAME as MS saying anything similar..

Boots66's picture

ecash - Interesting that you brought up the full screen ads issue - check out another IT Newsletter I get if Dennis will allow me to pass it on - Might be your answer.

doliceco's picture

I doubt if the Pentagon is going to be issuing any credible statement about the results of this decision on their part, particularly if their own experience parallels in any way that of the many public users who have attempted the upgrade to WIN 10 and have experienced serious problems.

If they're upgrading all of these computers to WIN 10, it's their decision. Let's just hope that nothing happens in their process of upgrading those 5000 machines to the new O/S that allows anything that could be of serious consequence in terms of national security to occur.

We'll never know how many of these 5000 users at the Pentagon will have problems that the system brings with it. For reasons of national security, Pentagon staff are most probably (and hopefully) prohibited from seeking help in solving any problems they may be having from anyone other than their own IT staff, so they will be on their own in solving all of the glitches they're bound to encounter.

I doubt if this forum will ever hear about any problems they have, but in case you do, please let us all know.

ecash's picture

IT staff??
How many have they fired.
How many internet and computer Kingpins have been fired or QUIT because they(the GOV.) wouldnt DO what was needed??

matt_2058's picture

I haven't been out of the USAF too long. I wasn't an IT guy, but I saw the biggest problem being configuration control. Users install their own screensavers, forward the latest...and not-so-latest...goofy animations, frequent unnecessary websites, etc. The list is limitless. How in the world can a military member get their porn fix from a government computer when the base network office can limit URLs? Fantasy sport leagues are something else.

Configuration control would fix most issues when it comes to government computers...or corporate computers for that matter. Terminals anyone?