US Department of Defense to move to Windows 10 by February 2017, upgrading 4 million seats

Arif Bacchus

Windows 10 recently surpassed the 200 million device mark, and with 76% of enterprise and education customers using it, Windows 10 has also been gaining popularity in the enterprise world. Today, Microsoft has announced that one of the largest enterprises anywhere, the US Department of Defense, has joined in to plan Windows 10 deployments.

From laptops, to desktops, and even mobile devices, the Secretary of Defense has directed all DoD agencies to begin a rapid deployment of Microsoft’s Windows 10 on devices throughout their organizations. The deployment is targeted to be complete within a year, and is an unprecedented move for a complex organization such as the DoD.

Windows 10 has even been certified for specific government criteria and 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.

A few of Windows 10 security features might be incorporated into the DoD’s plans. For instance, using Windows Hello, the department can identify individuals and restrict access through integrated multi-factor authentication using biometric mechanisms like facial recognition or fingerprints. There is also Enterprise Data Protection, which is currently being tested and would provide separation between both corporate and personal data, preventing corporate data from being copied to non-corporate files and locations, such as public website or social channels.

Security is important to the Department of Defense, it being a large target for cyber criminals. The blog post explains:

With the DoD spending approximately $44 billion annually on cybersecurity and IT, (US DoD CIO Terry) Halvorsen said the DoD needed to deploy innovation faster to ensure systems are more secure, more efficient and cost-effective, and standardized on one platform.

Because the U.S. Department of Defense is a prime target of cyber criminals and one of the largest and most complex organizations in the world, its leaders know the importance of securing its baseline systems.

The intention to move to Windows 10 started back in November when Terry Halvorsen, CIO for the DoD, issued a memo directing all Combatant Commands, Services Agencies and Field Activities to rapidly deploy Windows 10.  A deployment that would improve the Department’s cybersecurity, lower the cost of IT and streamline the IT operating environment, and now that deployment is expanding to encompass the entire Department of Defense.