back to article Microsoft 'welcomes dialog' over HoloLens use by the military, but doesn't have to listen

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has responded to employees' concerns over the company's decision to flog its HoloLens tech to the US military. The deal, worth nearly half a billion dollars, was signed off last November and will see the US military just as disappointed with its field of view as the rest of us, to the tune of 100, …

  1. Alister Silver badge

    Lethality

    Uugh!

    You might as well go for lethalness

    1. 's water music Silver badge

      Re: Lethality

      lethaliciousness

    2. Julian Bradfield

      Re: Lethality

      Why? lethality has been around for 350 years, while lethalness doesn't even rate a mention in the OED.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lethality

      Deadliness

    4. hplasm Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Lethality

      Lethaliferousocity..

      Now with added GRR!

    5. ratfox Silver badge

      Re: Lethality

      Or Lethalerino, if, you know, you're not into the whole brevity thing.

  2. TRT Silver badge

    Super Tuesday...

    Please leave your tank plugged in and turned on whilst we update the system...

    1. Andytug

      Re: Super Tuesday...

      Just as you're about to fire at the enemy, probably......

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Super Tuesday...

        Power shell?

        1. Steve K Silver badge

          Re: Super Tuesday...

          Following the chain of cmd

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Super Tuesday...

            Following the blockchain of cmd

            FTFY

    2. smudge Silver badge

      Re: Super Tuesday...

      "Your flight control systems will reboot several times during this update"

  3. johnnyblaze

    ...and the fact 0.5B is too good to pass up - that didn't have any effect on Nadella's decision. Blowing up a few commies in AR is a small price to pay...

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Meh

      Blowing up a few commies in AR is a small price to pay...

      Most of the USA's enemies are virtual.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Blowing up a few commies in AR is a small price to pay...

        Most of the USA's enemies are virtual.

        Looking at outcomes from Vietnam, through 'stan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria, so are US victories.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Blowing up a few commies in AR is a small price to pay...

          This is what happens when politicians fight the war by opinion poll, instead of letting the military fight the war to win.

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Blowing up a few commies in AR is a small price to pay...

        Most of the USA's enemies are virtual

        And very few of them are communist. In fact, the Trumpster seems dead keen on sucking up to two of them at the moment..

  4. Chris G Silver badge

    Patches

    No war on Tuesdays?

  5. Blockchain commentard Silver badge

    Microsoft elects the military? Surely not?

  6. Fading Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Increase lethality/deadliness?

    And there I was thinking incapacitating enemy combatants was the preferred option (injured soldiers are a greater strain on your enemies' resources than dead ones).

    AR for field medicine sounds useful though.

  7. revenant

    Have they thought it through?

    ..the goal of the project was to "increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy"

    While I can understand a reluctance to get involved with developing technology for the express purpose of killing people, I think they are willfully ignoring the bigger picture.

    The primary purpose of using technology in a military context is (or should be) to enhance one's capability to kill the enemy before they kill you, and that applies to much more than what is used at the sharp end.

    If they thought a bit more about it, they'd realise that Microsoft products are enhancing military capabilities across the board - eg use in Command and Control systems and systems to manage the supply chain (both of which are important to an efficient fighting force). If they don't want to enhance the military's lethality, I suggest they shouldn't be working for Microsoft at all.

    1. Steve Knox Silver badge

      Re: Have they thought it through?

      Have you thought it through?

      The primary purpose of the military is not, actually, to kill people. It is to stop people from killing (hurting, stealing from, etc.) you. Note for example, the justification for the US military in the Constitution: "to provide for the common defense".

      The best military technology prevents conflict by either allowing you to avoid it or by convincing your enemy to avoid you. So there is real justification for wanting to support your military by providing that type of technology, while not wanting to work on projects with specific goals of "lethality".

      Now, fair play to anyone who wants to respond with "that's not how the US (or the UK or any even slightly Imperialist power) have used their military", but I see that more as a failure of command (i.e, the governments involved) rather than an argument for a different definition of the ideal purpose of a military.

      1. jmch Silver badge

        Re: Have they thought it through?

        "The primary purpose of the military is not, actually, to kill people. It is to stop people from killing (hurting, stealing from, etc.) you. Note for example, the justification for the US military in the Constitution: "to provide for the common defense"."

        Ministry of peace = war

        Ministry of plenty = famine

        Ministry of love = torture

        " ministry of defence " is a figleaf. US certainly wasn't /isn't defending itself in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen etc.

    2. smudge Silver badge

      Re: Have they thought it through?

      If they thought a bit more about it, they'd realise that Microsoft products are enhancing military capabilities across the board - eg use in Command and Control systems and systems to manage the supply chain (both of which are important to an efficient fighting force). If they don't want to enhance the military's lethality, I suggest they shouldn't be working for Microsoft at all.

      I used to work for a well-known UK systems house - which, like all UK systems houses, no longer exists in that form any more. It used to work in all market sectors, including the military and the spooks.

      I worked, some of the time, on C&C systems and on logistics systems for the military, but I always refused to work on actual weapons systems. (Maybe you'll say that I should have thought a bit more about it.) My specialism was security, so my part of the company also worked for the spooks. I always refused that too - it was easily done by refusing to go forward for a higher clearance.

      My choices were well-known and were respected. Of course this depended on there being other work, of equal value to the company, which I could do. In security, that wasn't difficult.

      I'd like to think that more companies were like that. But I'm not even sure that my old company is like that nowadays :(

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Have they thought it through?

      If they thought a bit more about it, they'd realise that Microsoft products are enhancing military capabilities across the board

      In most commercial contexts, my four decades of experience persuade me that Microsoft products impede all forms of efficient business management. Would you care to explain why they have an opposite outcome in military contexts?

      My genuine but more limited experience of working on application specific military systems further persuades me that any Microsoft product in a military use would merely be a facilitator for the dead hand of bureaucracy and process-before-outcome.

  8. mintus55

    I'm not buying it

    I've spent a lot of cash on VR / AR for my personal entertainment, i.e. >£10k, but I certainly won't be subsidising a weapons system if I can avoid it.

    1. Swarthy Silver badge

      Re: I'm not buying it

      You wouldn't be subsidising a weapons system, the military would will be subsidising your gaming system.

      While £10k is a lot of consumer money, it isn't a drop in the bucket compared to military (especially US Military) spend. And money is not the whole of the investment: the army will test, develop extensions, and request features for the AR systems they use. These bug-fixes and features (or watered-down versions thereof) will make their way into consumer products, and the military will have paid for all of the R&D; lowering the price you, as a consumer, will end up paying.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hello friendly fire..

    At least in this case it's bluescreen on blue.

  10. Alex Read

    primary purpose of using technology in a military context is (or should be) to enhance one's capability to kill the enemy before they kill you... this is the US we're talking about., so the primary purpose is taking oil money!

  11. Tikimon Silver badge
    Facepalm

    The Blindly Naive here is astounding

    The best and wildest technology most often tends to come from the military and their weapons programs. Later, said tech trickles down to the consumer level. They developed ultra-stabilized cameras on helicopters for target acquisition and fire control. OMG Evil Military Tech! Kills people! Guess what Planet Earth used to get those great shots of undisturbed animals from a half-mile away? Who developed the high-resolution satellite imaging we all love today? Hint: it wasn't to monitor herds of gazelles. Eye-tracking? Targeting systems for pilots. Night vision scopes. GPS location. The list goes on and on. What these strident little snowflakes are too dumb to realize is that they will have to go live naked in the woods to avoid all military-related technology or the companies that make it. It's not possible to make civilian-only technology. The Army even uses toothbrushes.

    Most of these self-important idiots don't care that these tech advances reduce the risk to Our Troops in the unpleasant prosecution of warfare. They're fine with our soldiers dying, because they hate the military and everyone in it. They really believe we can simply throw our weapons away and world peace will descend on the planet. Of course they've forgotten how well Belgium (the Invasion Highway) declaring neutrality worked out in two world wars, and myriad other examples of disarmament inviting attack.

    So "you're not buying it" huh? Don't want your spending to fund "weapons"? Silly rabbit, you ALREADY HAVE!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Blindly Naive here is astounding

      OK, I'll bite. From which military program were remote control dildos derived? What weapon delivered this civilian benefit?

      1. Toni the terrible
        Holmes

        Re: The Blindly Naive here is astounding

        An attack on Fidel Castro by the CIA of course

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Blindly Naive here is astounding

        Automatic shell load and eject systems for tanks, of course.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Blindly Naive here is astounding

      They developed ultra-stabilized cameras on helicopters for target acquisition and fire control. OMG Evil Military Tech! Kills people! Guess what Planet Earth used to get those great shots of undisturbed animals from a half-mile away?

      So unintended and essentially trivial outcomes justify the means? Next you'll be telling me that Hiroshima was cool because it led to nuclear power.

      1. YJotta

        Re: The Blindly Naive here is astounding

        What means are you referring to?

        Research and Development?

        Developing stabilised cameras and ending up with stabilised cameras is not an unintended outcome.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Blindly Naive here is astounding

      "Most of these self-important idiots don't care that these tech advances reduce the risk to Our Troops in the unpleasant prosecution of warfare."

      Keep your troops in your own country, no problems.

      And calls other people blindly naive? Well done.

  12. Mike Lewis

    Don't worry

    I wouldn't worry about it. It's from Microsoft so it either

    1. won't work

    2. will work but not well

    3. has such a bad UI that you can't get it to work

    4. updates itself while you are trying to shoot someone, or

    5. leaks the user's location to the enemy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't worry

      6. sell user's data to the enemy so they know who to shoot first (if they base it on Windows 10 aka Slurp)

      IMHO, if they want to win wars using Microsoft they should ensure the enemy buys it. Iran would not have even been able to start an enrichment program yet with the amount of patches that have come out of Redmond..

  13. FozzyBear Silver badge
    Facepalm

    So.......

    The VR system is where they draw the line. What about all the other Military systems and subsystems that run Microsoft software, all of which contribute to increasing lethality of the armed forces.

    In fact not just the American military, but every other military and para-military outfit in the world will have Microsoft software somewhere adding in the coordination, planning, analysis or logistics. All designed to increase the effectiveness of it's armed forces in the field. So where's the condemnation, the cries of outrage, where's the shouts for ethical behaviour.

    ........

    No nothing, Thought so.

    Fucking Hypocrites.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So.......

      "What about all the other Military systems and subsystems that run Microsoft software, all of which contribute to increasing lethality of the armed forces."

      As far as I know they _reduce it_ and not increase. Remember this battleship which was totally inoperable half a day because one Windows-machine decided to blue screen?

      Not even engines worked: Literally a sitting duck to anyone wanting to destroy it.

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