U.S. Department of Defense to upgrade 4 million devices to Windows 10 by February 2017

The U.S. Department of Defense is committing to upgrade roughly four million devices and systems running legacy versions of Windows to Windows 10 by February 2017.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

The U.S. Department of Defense's Secretary of Defense is directing all DoD agencies running legacy Windows versions to standardize on Windows 10 and deploy it starting immediately.


The DoD's goal is to upgrade approximately "4 million devices and systems" by February 2017, according to a February 17 Microsoft blog post. (I've asked if this total includes phones, too, but haven't been able to find out so far.)

"I'm expecting all this to happen in a year. To me, this means they know their prior Windows machines aren't that secure and this is of the highest importance. The DoD is typically the last to roll things out as it's viewed as safer and more secure. The opposite is turn now. Hackers are moving so fast, the DoD needs the latest tech to combat it," said Patrick Moorhead, President and principal analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy.

"This also says to me that Windows 10 is ready for the broadest deployments inside corporations. The DoD wouldn't be doing this many systems as fast if this weren't the case," Moorhead added.

In November 2015, Terry Halvorsen, CIO for the DoD, issued a memo directing all Combatant Commands, Services Agencies and Field Activities to rapidly deploy Windows 10 to improve the DoD's cybersecurity, lower the cost of IT and streamline the IT operating environment.

That memo stated the DoD's objective was to complete the deployment by January 2017. The CIOs of each branch would be allowed "limited waiver authority" for up to 12 months beyond the target deployment date; waivers beyond that 12 month period needed to be approved by Halvorsen, the memo said.

The DoD has been bullish about previous Microsoft operating system releases. In 2013, the U.S. Army, Air Force and Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) announced they'd be standardizing on Windows 8 and moving 75 percent of all DoD employees to it as part of a three-year, $617 million deal.

Microsoft also announced today that its Surface family of devices has been certified and available through the DISA Unified Capabilities (UC) Approved Product List (APL), making government bulk purchases of those devices an option.

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