Microsoft's hopes for Windows 10 in the enterprise just got a major lift, the software giant announced Feb. 17.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has agreed to upgrade 4 million seats to Microsoft's latest operating system by this time next year, said Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of Microsoft Windows and Devices, in a Feb. 17 blog post. "From laptops to desktops to mobile devices, including Surface devices, the DoD is targeting its Windows 10 upgrade for completion in a year, an unprecedented move for a customer with the size and complexity of the DoD," he wrote.
Though the operating system officially launched just over six months ago, enterprises seem eager to get an early start on their deployment plans.
Last November, Gartner released a study revealing that enterprise deployments of Windows 10 will start to peak by early 2017. The research group expects businesses to adopt Windows 10 faster than Windows XP and the ever-popular Windows 7, the latter of which Microsoft intends to stop supporting in January 2020. (Windows XP support ended in April 2014.)
During a recent earnings call, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella revealed that Windows 10 is being snapped up "nearly 140 percent faster than Windows 7." Seventy-six percent of the Redmond, Wash., software maker's enterprise customers are actively piloting the OS, which is already running on 22 million business and education devices, he added.
For the DoD, the move to Windows 10 will help enhance security and possibly drive down the cost of safeguarding the agency's IT environment. Citing figures from the DoD's CIO, Terry Halvorsen, the agency spends an estimated $44 billion a year on IT and cyber-security, said Mehdi.
"Today's government agencies face new and emerging challenges that range from a constantly shifting threat landscape to managing multiple platforms and devices in the enterprise environment," stated Mehdi. "And the modern threat landscape has never been more challenging—driving tremendous costs and risk to the security of critical information. Security breaches can take 200+ days to detect and industry experts predict there will be over two million new malware apps by the end of the year."
Windows remains a popular target for attackers and malware coders, but the latest version of Microsoft's flagship OS has been hardened, at least enough to meet the government's standards. "The National Information Assurance Program, the arm of the US government responsible for evaluating commercial IT products for use in National Security Systems, has certified Windows 10 against the Mobile Device Fundamentals Common Criteria protection profile," Mehdi said.
The DoD's push to upgrade its Windows fleet of PCs could also bode well for Microsoft's Windows 10 hardware line, hinted Mehdi. The company's "Surface family of devices have been certified and are available through the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Unified Capabilities Approved Products List and can be easily worked into deployment plans," he noted. "This means that Surface has met the strict security and interoperability requirements required by the DoD."