back to article US military nails 'best ever' Microsoft deal, brags size does matter

US Department of Defense personnel will get their hands on Microsoft’s latest software in a deal officials claim is their best yet from Redmond. The government department has signed a three-year enterprise licence agreement with Microsoft worth $617m, giving its two-million-plus civilian and military staff access to Windows 8 …


This topic is closed for new posts.


  1. Tony Carter-Inman

    The US Military should be getting paid to use Office 2013 and Windows 8!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Office 2013 is a magical and wonderful thing (well excel is) saddly everything new UI wise on 2013 is pretty crap. But the thing itself is great.

      But yeah - Windows 8 gives you eye cancer.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Metro looks like some kind of CIA mind control experiment.

      Look out for the psychaedelic flat square active panels man.

    3. Bob Vistakin
    4. BorkedAgain

      Dammit Tony, you got there first...

      I was going to say that doesn't sound like a bad deal - and after Microsoft have paid them to take the software they don't actually have to install it, do they?

  2. Martijn Otto
    Thumb Down

    The best Microsoft deal would be a deal without any Microsoft software.

    1. Paulusar

      Better Deal

      A better deal would be Windows 7 and Office 2007.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What would you suggest they use instead?

      Guess what, people use Microsoft because the alternatives are generally harder to use, require admin staff who cost more to employ, don't support as much modern hardware and nobody but annoying geeks know how to use it.

      Yes, lets move from an OS with 90+% usage in the corporate world to one with less than 1% use in the corporate world. There's probably more OS/2 machines than Linux machines in the business world.

      Of course servers is another matter altogether.

      Have you tried talking someone through how to do something on the phone with a Linux desktop (without the command line)? you have no freakin idea what their GUI looks like since it could be one of a thousand different systems. Linux invented the whole pain of fragmentation, call it choice but I call it thousands of people all reinventing the wheel in a millions different colours.

      1. Martijn Otto
        Thumb Up

        They could use a battered-down version of Ubuntu, like the Dutch military does. A friend of mine works there, and they all get a USB-stick with this so that even if they are off-base, they have something they can boot off and establish a secure connection if need be, without having to worry about the spyware, viruses and other nasties that usually come with a Windows system.

        It works pretty easy and they have no problems getting personnel to work with the OS. The FUD about not knowing, and thus not being able to use, linux is based on old information. Nowadays, linux is a grown-up, userfriendly system that even my grandmother can use.

        1. RAMChYLD


          I have successfully converted my elderly aunt and my uncle to Ubuntu with no effort at all. Even XFCE was easy enough to use for them, LibreOffice is much more familiar to them compared to Office since Office 2007, and they still can do everything they ever did on Windows.

          I'd say the desktop fragmentation thing is FUD.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Indeed!

            Yes your Gran is the same as the entire US military. God there are some dicks in this place.

            Show me an Open Source version of Lync?

            Openfire? ha ha ha ha ha haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

            Asterisk? Oh please.

            1. tuxtester

              Re: Indeed!

              > ... there are some dicks in this place.

              Yep, you're not wrong there, Coward.

        2. JeffyPooh Silver badge


          They allow USB sticks? OMG!! SECURITY!!! SECURITY!!! SECURITY!!!

        3. NullReference Exception

          They do.

 "Lightweight Portable Security (LPS) creates a secure end node from trusted media on almost any Intel-based computer (PC or Mac). LPS boots a thin Linux operating system from a CD or USB flash stick without mounting a local hard drive. Administrator privileges are not required; nothing is installed. The LPS family was created to address particular use cases: LPS-Public is a safer, general-purpose solution for using web-based applications. The accredited LPS-Remote Access is only for accessing your organization's private network."

          But this is the DoD, where the left hand knows what the right hand is doing, but doesn't care because it's too busy defending itself from the left foot. (The existence of the right foot is classified.)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        No need to post anonymously RICHTO, the stink of your FUD gives you away. The f-word you keep flogging to death is a synonym of *choice*... and it's something we *like*!... ESPECIALLY so in comparison to your evil cartel monoculture. Yuck. More of this wonderful "fragmentation" for me please :D

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm Sure The Chinese Are Rejoicing

    Makes it nice and easy for the Chinese military to read what the Pentagon is typing in real time.

    1. tuxtester

      Re: I'm Sure The Chinese Are Rejoicing

      Yes, why would a department of defence announce to the world that they are using a spyware and computer-virus prone operating system on their computers. What a bunch of plonkers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'm Sure The Chinese Are Rejoicing

        "Yes, why would a department of defence announce to the world that they are using a spyware and computer-virus prone operating system on their computers. What a bunch of plonkers."

        No doubt they're announcing it with a default password on port 3389 anyway.

  4. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    US military nails 'best ever'

    Was I the only one to wonder if it was the nails they use to hold bits of wood together, or their fingernails?

    The first sounds disappointingly primitive for the US military. The second sounds like they're getting ready to scratch your eyes out.

    1. Swarthy Silver badge

      The second is what they're using to hold on to budgets at this point. the "Fiscal Cliff" just got kicked down the road, not averted. if the US Military wants to have MS software, it had best pay up now, while it has access to the cash.

      WTF, 'Cause I'm not sure WTF the US Gov't is doing, and I'm not sure they do either.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Cut and run with Windows fun!

        No need to worry.

        All the blather about cutting military budget is just retarded posturing.


        On Monday, the Pentagon issued a statement warning that a failure to avoid the cuts would put the jobs of 800,000 civilian employees at risk.

        But the proposed cuts to defense budgets are, frankly, puny. The harshest scenario for defense cuts would only put budgets back at about the 2007 level, and they aren’t even really “cuts” to defense spending; they are reductions in the rate of growth of defense spending.

        Illustrating how these cries are more scare stories than anything else is Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s less publicized predictions, according to the Associated Press, that “workers…will not face layoffs immediately” and that “he does not believe the Pentagon’s day-to-day operations would change dramatically.”

  5. Francis Vaughan

    Wrong metric

    The Microsoft guys negotiating the deal really don't care in the slightest about the level of discount that can be calculated against a per seat price. It was a given that they were going to sell an all of department license. The only question was what the maximum amount of money they could extract from the DoD was. That number was probably not too hard to discover. Then all they do is work on convincing the DoD to hand it over.

    The DoD's job is to muddy the waters and convince MS that the DoD really have much less money to spend, and get MS to latch onto a goal price that is actually lower than it is. Given the number of ex-DoD consultants that MS could engage to help, I suspect the whip hand is actually Microsoft's, and not the DoD's. But it always good to let the loser save face. A press release from the DoD making themselves look good is a small price for MS to pay for extracting that last 100 million from the DoD.

  6. Shasta McNasty

    Just a thought

    If they're spending $617M on software over three years, how much would it cost to produce customised unix server and desktop software that does exactly what they want, nothing more, nothing less which has full control over the source code and isn't tied in to any one company.

    At what point does customised (not new) software become cheaper than the stuff MS produces?

    1. Desidero

      Re: Just a thought

      I've watched as government agencies try to dictate system development and fall flat on their face - commitment to Sun workstation, low bitrate ATM to the desktop, other superlative choices. After millions spent, they threw it all out and want to regular PCs, switched ethernet and other stuff the rest of the world was doing.

      At what point does customised software become cheaper? with the government, likely never. (NASA perhaps being an exception.... sometimes)

    2. Sean Kennedy

      Re: Just a thought

      This sounds great until you consider how much it would cost to develop said software, the chances of getting it right ( practically nil ).

      On top of that, then you need to find techs to support it; good luck with that. Unless you plan on building out a world class training system, dealing with the 1+ year plus lead time between hiring a tech and real usefulness, plus paying the wages necessary for retention...ya, it adds up quickly.

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Re: Just a thought

        Nope. If they could cover schools, business and government with a Linux development in the Extremadura region of Spain (which is, as far as I know about the poorest region) they sure as hell could throw a million or 2 at a project to do it for the US infrastructure, with as added bonus that they would actually be able to do a proper risk and security assessment.

        I'd cook this up for 1..2 million, easy. Add a couple of mil for distribution and you're underway (the aforementioned Spanish region has one group of techs taking care of the lot, which is the joy of stable software).

        Given that one of the El Reg team lives in Spain I'm surprised nobody has tried to do a followup - this thing was done more than 10 years ago (well before Munich) so there should be scope for some form of update article..

        I'm sure they would have been able to get a better deal if they already had a Linux project going - that alone would have justified investing a million. In my opinion, this was simply the last defence money shafted out of the government before the lot collapses and remember - profits go offshore, so that money is lost for the US citizen. Ah, the joys of capitalism..

        1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

          Re: Just a thought

          I have one of the guys who mantained Linex in my group.. I guess that must tell you the current state of Linex.

          It was mostly discontinued.. for several reasons, partly due to budget constrains, partly because they had decided to use Debian (now you can flame me!!)

          The new version should come out in a few months, but as most pple were made redundant more than one year ago.. and the rest some months later, let's say it is a new thing, based in the old one.

          Bottom line: we should pay for OS AND programs. Be it through donations, taxes or upfront cost. At the end of the day, there is nothing free... someone has to pay.

          Note: I do use Linux, and like it.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Just a thought

            I have one of the guys who mantained Linex in my group

            Just for others (who may have thought you misspelled it), LinEx is the Spanish project I meant.

            You're right - the only way to do this properly is actually the approach the German government has taken with GPG (for example): take existing, viable projects and give them a boost so they become what you need. This is a clever use of tax payer's money as it doesn't just save money at government level, it also allows citizens to use the result and save money too (not just in software costs, but also through greater stability and an easier ability to customise).

            Shame to hear they closed the team down, but going Debian makes sense for the standard part.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just a thought

        Nonsense. For an overwhelming majority of users (SES excluded) a standard Linux distribution would provide a workable solution out of the box. Many or most new applications use a browser to access java applications and databases on mid- to upper-size Unix servers or mainframes; they would need little development. Those that don't in many cases are scheduled for replacement or should be; and there is no reason to think development cost for a Linux-based browser would be meaningfully different from Windows. As far as training costs are concerned, It is doubtful that they would exceed the costs of training everyone up to Windows 8.

        One of the big problems in the DoD activity in which I work is "microapps" - MS Access databases with little applications, developed outside of IT management control and then abandoned as the originator died, retired, or was promoted to his or her Peter level. We have, I am told, around 5,000 such similar-but-not-identical things, used for everything from tweaking payroll input to fiddling accounting data. Once abandoned by their creators, they fall into disrepair over time due to legal, regulatory, or organizational changes and IT staff are called upon to repair them. As one might expect, they tend to designed rather poorly and with little forethought for maintenance, and come essentially without documentation. A non-MS solution would have conversion and maintenance costs, even if "free", but the long term savings from eliminating Access (and some similar Excel applications) would likely save enough to pay several times over the cost of conversion.

    3. Euripides Pants Silver badge

      Re: Just a thought

      Remember, these are the people who spend $700 each for toilet seats.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just a thought

        That is to fund the secret UFO bases on the far side of the moon...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just a thought

      Yes, it's an interesting thought as $600m buys you a lot of custom development. But it can also, as we see regularly around the world, be spent on an endless programme of work that involves thousands of "stakeholders" run massively over budget and over time and then get cancelled by a new government administration who think that a different approach is better.

      Doing it yourself can deliver a fantastic result, but don't underestimate the risks involved.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just a thought

      " much would it cost...?"

      About a Quadrillion-Trillion-Billion-Million dollars. And this proposed Government-IT OS-creation project will be finished at about the same time as the Sun enters the Red-Giant phase.

      Don't believe me? Look up JTRS.

  7. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Headline price and REAL price

    Somehow I doubt that this will be all the DoD pays for their shiny new stuff. Once the extras, ooops - we forgot's, sorry that's not in the contract's and unforeseen situations that will need additional help at the FULL PRICE are taken into account (which we'll never hear about) I have no doubt this deal will come out to be very similar in total cost to what every other MS customer would pay - seat for seat.

    Commercial companies are masters of the art of separating government departments from our taxes their money. After all, governments have little incentive to be economical or fiscally prudent (and defence departments even less so) as they can always mug the proles for more tax-cash or sell more bonds that they'll never pay back, if they ever start to run short.

    So I'm sure MS are letting the military have their little neener, knowing full-well that their sales bonuses are very, very safe for many years to come.

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: Headline price and REAL price

      Yup. Just as the magic word for bypassing due process is "terrorist", the magic phrase to screw procurement deals is "change control" - and that trick is so old it's a scandal it can still be used successfully..

  8. Joe User

    The REAL reason

    Microsoft made this deal just to artificially inflate their Windows 8 license count (even more).

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: The REAL reason

      You mean, *create* a license count :)

    2. garbo

      Re: The REAL reason

      Or maybe, with so far disappointing take-up, they just have to move W8 any way they can. Hence the "sweetheart" deal for the military.

  9. NukEvil


    Does the deal include buying all the hardware that will actually run Windows 8, Office 2013, etc?

    If not, then the DoD just bought the most expensive steaming turd in the history of existence.

    Flame icon, because its title attribute contains the word "steam" and such.

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Hardware

      Windows 8 has practically the same hardware requirements as Windows 7. Check the wiki.

      Office 2013 should run on any hardware that can run Windows 7/8.

  10. NomNomNom


  11. Bob Vistakin

    "Hi! I'm Clippy! It looks like you want to launch some nukes".

    "I noticed you pushed the big red button. Your system now needs rebooting, so these changes can come into effect."

    1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

      And it's over to India

      For some offshore support.

      Good job with those injuns BTW.

  12. David Kelly 2

    $100 per machine per year is a deal?

    The only thing I find I need Microsoft products for is to extract the data written in documents created using Microsoft software.

    $617m / 2m machines / 3 years = $102.83 each per year.

    1. asdf Silver badge

      Re: $100 per machine per year is a deal?

      $100 a year for the latest OS, Office and Sharepoint is not a rate most small businesses get more than likely.

      1. Abot13

        Re: $100 per machine per year is a deal?

        it is a buy once use three years deal, so its $300 per machine. And I think thats not a real good deal for 2 million machines. ni use comparing it to SMB. the numer of machines is what counts, should and could do much better, iven with MSFT, let alone with FOSS.

    2. JeffyPooh Silver badge

      Re: $100 per machine per year is a deal?

      The proudly claimed "10%" off is noise - I don't understand why anyone would consider that to be anything other than a rounding error..

      But putting in terms of $100/year is pretty reasonable.

  13. Herby Silver badge

    So, Windows is...

    ...running ships aground, and aiming weapons?

    Sorry, I'll pass. Hopefully they will allow some 'other' software on their machines. Why not skip the 'office' requirement and specify LibreOffice (or equivalent) and get it done cheaper. THAT would give a BIG boost to FOSS and make lots of people happy!

    Microsoft is probably very happy to get $100/machine for minimal (no?) work. PC vendors already include the cost of W7/W8 in the hardware price, so DoD is probably paying twice. I seriously doubt that Microsoft will give OEMs a discount for shipping machines to DoD.

    Win for Microsoft, Lost for American Taxpayers (like me). (*SIGH*)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So, Windows is...

      Hasn't happened yet and Windows has been running ships for quite a while now.

      1. A Known Coward

        Re: So, Windows is...

        I seem to recall (not very well) watching an interview with an IT tech working on board a UK Sub (pretty sure it was a sub not a warship). Anyway, the stand-out point for me was when he mentioned having to reboot it periodically ...

        Now I freely admit that I don't really remember it terribly well, so if someone can find the vid on youtube or whatever to get the exact quote, please do.


This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019