One Lump of Stupid or Two, US Navy?

"Looks like you're trying to move off Windoze."

“Looks like you’re trying to move off Windoze.”

The Hill tells us:

“The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) will pay Microsoft $9,149,000 through the contract, which was approved earlier this month. It could eventually grow to be as large as $30,842,980 by 2017.

“The funds will pay for Microsoft to provide custom security support to up to 100,000 Windows XP machines used by the Navy. Microsoft has abandoned supporting the system for users who don’t pay for the custom services. The contract will also provide support for other older Microsoft products, including Office 2003.”

The problem is that the Navy built custom programs on Windows XP that cannot move forward to whatever the hell release of Windows is now, so they will have to be rewritten. US Corporations did this, too, and paid millions to MS to keep XP alive for at least a decade after MS first tried to kill it off. The adoption rate of subsequent releases of Windows has been slow, customers are doing whatever it takes to keep old releases alive, including the Navy.

“In particular, Microsoft Premier Support Services and Custom Support Services maintain enterprise-wide Microsoft capabilities to ensure Navy warfighters have connectivity to their respective networks and to the data necessary to support and accomplish their mission.”

There’s a lot of FAIL (as the kids used to say) in this story, but it is not all the Navy’s fault. MS’ business plan—which has been highly successful—sort of forces people to buy all new editions every few years. The Navy’s IT department should have seen this coming.

Personally, I find it disturbing that our military is paying extra to use obsolete equipment and software that crashes a lot and is a gold mine for hackers.


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10 Responses to One Lump of Stupid or Two, US Navy?

  1. Problem isn’t Navy IT Department (N6), per se, but HP and the NMCI Network, and Windows going more and more to the Cloud. The Cloud is a security nightmare for Navy. As I type this, we’re FINALLY getting new machines at our workstations– Windows 7! So, we’ve been stuck with XP for quite some time. Things are changing slowly. I don’t see us moving passed Win7, though, and can’t see what will replace it when the time comes.


    • tengrain says:

      While I agree with you that The Cloud is a security nightmare (it is really client-server architecture with a better PR campaign, in my humble opinion), but the decision to standardize is an IT one.

      Every IT department loves Windoze. They get amazing budgets and high head-counts to support MS installations, and most of the non-technical staff requires IT support to come by and straighten out their image, so IT creates a self-fulfilling mission.

      So what do you think that the Navy will do? I cannot see anything except moving to Linux as an alternative, and that brings its own security nightmares.




  2. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© says:

    Microsoft is also a reason Patty Murray, who used to be good on many issues, was one of the turncoats on the TPP.


    • tengrain says:

      I’ve been surprised that my old representative from San Jose Zoe Lofgren has been on the side of the angels on this. Normally anything that Big Tech wants, she’s right there handing it to them. She’s good on pretty much everything else.




  3. Weird Dave says:

    Microsoft IS the virus!


  4. A.J. says:

    I got a new computer with Windows 8.1 in December. Old PC running XP was dying and lots of program add-on/security would not work.

    Now, write this down: Windows 8.1 is the WORST OPERATING SYSTEM I HAVE EVER USED.

    The learning curve on this thing is ENORMOUS. Literally months trying to figure out where program are, where downloads went, the retrieval of stored data, the mandatory UPGRADE to Office 2013 ($$$). What to kill a document that is currently printing?
    It’s a nightmare. 7-months later, still a nightmare.


  5. It’s not like the Navy hasn’t had warning… They’re lucky it didn’t happen in battle or the BSOD would really be the D part.

    That said I have a little sympathy for the Navy; in my day job I support folks with 5 and 6-figure scientific instruments still stuck on XP because they don’t have the $$$ to pay for the extravagant upgrade costs for perfectly functioning instruments. I don’t know how but scientific instrument programmers have an uncanny ability to zero in on just the things that a windows update will break…

    I once had one stop working because Windows updated their XP firewire driver. FW may have been unpopular but it was a rock-solid standard with heavily standardized drivers (hell you could take a windows-labelled PCI card, stuff it in a Mac (running an entirely different CPU back then) and it would ‘just work’. Same with Linux boxen at the time too. I cannot imagine how the people writing the instrument software fubared a standard system IO call…


    • Bruce388 says:

      One computer columnist, who made a habit of roasting Microsoft way back when, told the story about that Smart Ship program and how, when Windows crashed, ships were being towed into port.

      As he wrote, Blue Screen of Death took on a whole new meaning.


  6. badtux99 says:

    The core problem is that Navy ships have a ton of embedded computers to do things that used to take hundreds of sailors, and the vast majority of those embedded computers are running WIndows XP, and the vast majority of those embedded computers don’t have sufficient flash or RAM to run anything newer because newer versions of Windows are such hogs. Navy ships are on a 10 year major refit cycle for the most part, meaning that there’s no chance in hell of replacing any XP on those ships until they come in for their next 10-year major refit. And because we’ve run down the number of Navy ships so much, there’s no way to make it happen faster — those ships have to be out there on the high seas because there’s no spares to take their place.

    So yes, this seems like a waste of money, but it’s a waste that’s implied by the way the Navy’s refit cycle works. They should have thought about this when they decided to use XP in the first place, and gone to Linux then, but they didn’t. So it goes.

    (And BTW, don’t diss Linux. Your blog is running on Linux, and it might reach up and bite you if you diss it. Just sayin 😉 ).


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