Hasta la Vista: Army to implement new operating system

By Delawese Fulton, Leader StaffMay 13, 2009

FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- The Army is migrating all of its Microsoft Windows-based systems to Microsoft's Vista operating system to bolster Internet security and begin standardization of its information systems.

The systems change, which includes swapping Office 2003 for Office 2007, is set to be completed by Dec. 31. Fort Jackson's Directorate of Information Management officials say the initiative will strengthen Army LandWarNet security by reducing opportunities for hackers to access and exploit government computer systems.

"The goal is to minimize the impact to the installation's training mission. We want to handle this migration in a way that makes sense to the organizations fielded," said Marcus D. Good, chief of the Information Technology Systems Support Division at DOIM.

"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.

Prior to bringing the new operating system online, a few glitches were reported, Good said. However, those issues will not impact mission readiness or delay the planned migration to Windows Vista.

"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," he said.

In addition to added supports for data encryption, first-time Vista users will discover a new Windows Explorer, upgraded icons and navigation structure. There are also graphical replications of clock, calendar, weather and Outlook mail functions.

The Soldier Support Institute staff and its 3,500 computers were first to migrate to the new operating system.

Sharon Reed, chief of IT at SSI, 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 said.

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 this 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.

"The Army's mandate is to have 50 percent of all Windows-based systems migrated to Vista by July 31 and 100 percent by the end of the year," Good said.

As of press time yesterday, more than 900 of the installation's 7,500 computers have migrated to the new operating system, Good said.

Fort Jackson employees who have never used the operating system, can preview it and begin training by visiting http://usarmy.skillport.com and https://train.gordon.