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Army marching toward Windows Vista

Military branch says it will move off Windows XP, as well as from Office 2003 to Office 2007, by December 31.

With all the buzz around Windows 7, it may sound strange to be reading about enterprises moving toward Vista. But in some cases, that's where things are at.

The U.S. Army, for example, plans to move by year's end from Windows XP to Windows Vista, as well as from Office 2003 to Office 2007.

The Army has already moved 44,000 of its 744,000 desktops to Vista and is making the move to bolster security, according to an Army News Service article.

Sgt. 1st Class Frank Sanders uses two computers as part of his work as a maintenance manager with the 21st Theater Sustainment Command's support operations division on Panzer Kaserne in Boeblingen, Germany. The Army has already moved 44,000 of its 744,000 Windows PCs to Vista, with plans to move the rest by December 31. U.S. Army

In a recent report, Gartner analyst Michael Silver said that organizations well down the path toward a Vista deployment should continue, but said other businesses may want to wait for Windows 7.

Those in the midst of moving to Vista, he said, should "continue with Vista, but plan to switch to Windows 7 in late 2010 or early 2011, especially if you're switching to Vista through a hardware refresh." Meanwhile, Silver suggested others should consider skipping Vista entirely if they can move to Windows 7 and delay deployment by no more than six months.

Microsoft, for its part, issued advice on the matter back in February.

In a statement, Microsoft senior director Gavriella Schuster said the Army's move represents a significant undertaking.

"First, they see real value in Windows Vista's improved security architecture," Schuster said. "Second, it shows large organizations have unique needs and timetables for deployment."

Schuster noted that moving operating systems represents a big deal for big institutions, such as the military. "These things take time --they have been rigorously testing internally--and it makes sense that they have approached deployment in a measured and well-planned way, especially given the number of seats they are migrating to Windows Vista."

And, because Windows 7 shares the same underlying architecture, Schuster, said the Army is well-positioned to move to that operating system whenever they are ready.

Last week, Microsoft committed to finishing Windows 7 in time for it to start showing up on PCs sold during the holiday buying season.