Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Microsoft The Almighty Buck

US Army Signs $471,000,000 Deal for Microsoft Software 1260

Posted by michael
from the we-want-YOU-to-run-windows dept.
zero_offset writes "According to this article at Yahoo, Microsoft will provide software for 494,000 Army computers during the next six years. At roughly $950 per computer this clearly involves more than just the OS, although the article unfortunately doesn't provide details, and I was unable to find any references to this on the Microsoft website." The great things about this deal: the Army is going through a reseller, when clearly they have the purchasing power to buy direct; and most of the computers they purchase are normal consumer machines which will be purchased with Windows and Office already installed, so the Army will be paying twice for each machine.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

US Army Signs $471,000,000 Deal for Microsoft Software

Comments Filter:
  • Yeah Buddy! (Score:3, Funny)

    by notque (636838) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @09:53AM (#6302019) Homepage Journal
    US Army Signs $471,000,000 Deal for Microsoft Software

    And if the US was a country that didn't pander to corperate intrests, the headline would read,

    "US Army Signs $0 Deal for Linux Software"
    • Re:Yeah Buddy! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by heir2chaos (656103) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @09:55AM (#6302057)
      I agree with you that about the price of Linux, but there's obviously something more there than an operating system. They may have had a need, that their bureaucrats didn't see and open source solution for.
    • by anthony_dipierro (543308) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @09:55AM (#6302059) Journal
      C'mon, admit it. You posted that using IE on Windows.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 26, 2003 @09:57AM (#6302094)
      And if the US was a country that didn't pander to corperate intrests, the headline would read,


      No, it would read US Army signs $0 Deal for Linux software if we wanted our soldiers to "RTFM, j00 n00b l4m3r" instead of, say, killing people and breaking things.
    • by ed.han (444783) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @10:11AM (#6302300) Journal
      "what, you think they really paid $700 for a hammer?"--judd hirsh, independence day.
    • by TopShelf (92521)
      But if they did that, how would they play America's Army Operations [amazon.com]?
    • Re:Yeah Buddy! (Score:5, Informative)

      by FateCreatr (145802) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @10:53AM (#6302719) Homepage
      i feel i need to clear a few things up for those of you who aren't in the resale industry. first off, the article says nothing about them buying the systems from Softmart. second, since this is a 6 year agreement and it says that Softmart get's a commision, this is not a resale it's an Enterprise Agreement. that kind of contract is handled direct only and Microsoft controls the pricing, but in order to make things fair for LARs (large account resellers) the deal has to be sponcered by a LAR. that reseller get's a kickback commision (like 2%), not a sale. in an Enterprise Agreement, they are agreeing to an accross the board standard to your desktops. if that $900 figure is correct then they got a great deal because that will cover the OS, Office, and all the core CALs for 6 years, including automatic upgrade rights for anything new that comes out (which given the upgrade cycle should be about 4 new versions of each). any normal company would have to pay about 5 times more for this. just try and name a company with a large install base that wouldn't jump at 4 OS's, 4 Office's and 4 of each CAL for $900. this news shows us two things in reality. one is that there is a helluva lot of markup in this product. and second is that the miltary made a good move (or MS a bad one) because they would have bought all this anyway, but at a much higher price over time. by the way, an Enterprise Agreement is not an upfront sale but a yearly payment with true-ups.

      FateCreatr, Out.
      • Re:Yeah Buddy! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Master Bait (115103) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @11:27AM (#6303089) Homepage Journal
        It's not a great deal, it's a lousy deal. For that kind of money, they could have bought Corel outright and would have OWNED everything outright AND have a lot left over to commission many many more video games for kiddies. Now they won't own anything but a limited-time, non-transferrable lease.

        The whole US government is such a huge consumer of software, that they could save a tremendous amount of money by contracting with public universities to maintain their own Linux or BSD distro.

  • Paying twice? (Score:5, Informative)

    by CrayzyJ (222675) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @09:55AM (#6302056) Homepage Journal
    "so the Army will be paying twice for each machine"

    I RTFA and I saw NO reference to anyone paying twice. The article does not state this deal is for the OS and office, so you, Michael, should not assume anyone is paying twice.

    I know, I know. NO, I am not new here. Yes, I know /. is slanted. It still irritates me though.
    • Re:Paying twice? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 73939133 (676561)
      I RTFA and I saw NO reference to anyone paying twice. The article does not state this deal is for the OS and office, so you, Michael, should not assume anyone is paying twice.

      Can you come up with a reasonable collection of Microsoft software that costs $950 per machine (on average)? I can't.

      "Paying twice" seems like a pretty reasonable guess to me. That is, incidentally, also the situation in which many corporate customers are. Basically, the license you pay for with the machine doesn't quite cover eno
    • Re:Paying twice? (Score:4, Informative)

      by matthew.thompson (44814) <matt@actua[ ]y.co.uk ['lit' in gap]> on Thursday June 26, 2003 @10:32AM (#6302517) Journal
      Actually the standard licensing systems for Microsoft Office and Windows (Microsoft has a special name for this type of license but I can't remember it exactly - probably desktop platform) are about the only things they will license on that many machines.

      And the Microsoft subscription license requires you to purchase computers with Windows and Office AND subscribe to Windows and Office for that machine.

      If you end the subscription license you not only loose the upgrade options etc but you also forfeit the use of the original OEM license!

      For this reason we only purchase OEM copies of Windows and just leave them on the box it came with.
    • by Eunuchswear (210685) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @10:47AM (#6302653) Journal
      Yes, I know /. is slanted. It still irritates me though.
      Well, if it wasn't slanted it'd be |.

  • What software? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Surak (18578) * <surakNO@SPAMmailblocks.com> on Thursday June 26, 2003 @09:56AM (#6302065) Homepage Journal
    From the article:

    Charles Di Bona, software analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, said in a research report that the contract would most likely add $16.6 million per quarter of "high-margin (in the range of 89 percent) revenues and add $0.001 per quarter to EPS."

    What products make M$ *that* much profit? Windows and Office of course.

    Let's see...if the Army is paying full retail (which I wouldn't doubt):


    Microsoft Windows XP Professional: $299
    Microsoft Office XP Professional: $449
    Microsoft Visio Standard: $199

    Total: $947


    There's most likely your answer.

    (Also, I happen to know that Visio Standard comes on the Army's standard build (a friend of mine worked for TACOM), so that's why picked it :)

    • They want all their recruits to train on the best computer simulation available to the government today [americasarmy.com].
    • Re:What software? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by HBI (604924) <kparadine@@@gmail...com> on Thursday June 26, 2003 @10:22AM (#6302429) Homepage Journal
      Wrong.

      They are site licensing the server products, almost the entire product line. Sharepoint, SQL Server, etc etc etc ad nauseaum.

      Exchange too.

      The details aren't being disclosed because MS doesn't want their other customers getting pissed at the ball breaking that the Army gave them.

      I happen to have met both the current and the next Army CIO. They are both _incredibly_ intelligent people. In particular LTG Cuviello (current) is pretty damn motivated and kicks some serious ass. These people are not going to sign a bad deal.
      • by twitter (104583) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @11:22AM (#6303038) Homepage Journal
        This is a thinlly disguised economic stimulus package, or they got robbed. Software merrit and pricing would never lead to a deal like that.

        They are site licensing the server products, almost the entire product line. Sharepoint, SQL Server, etc etc etc ad nauseaum.

        Indeed, I feel ill. What exactly does all that shit provide that free software does not? Vendor lock-in? Great.

        The details aren't being disclosed because MS doesn't want their other customers getting pissed at the ball breaking that the Army gave them

        Nuts. I've never heard of a non-clasified public purchase with a NDA. It's my half a billion dollars, I want the details. Only crooks who sell crap have to hide their details. You would think they would be happy to give anyone buying half a million computers a similar deal.

        There's no excuse for buing into more Microshit right now. Computer hardware has been more than adequate for general purpose desktop computing for the last six years. If the software those computers came with is no longer up to the task, I suggest looking at alternate software. There are a few other good American companies that could use this kind of shot in the arm but would provide a much better product:

        • Red Hat [redhat.com] has far superior server and desktop software and support.
        • Sun [sun.com] also has all three and a great Productivity suit for much less than M$ Office [sun.com]
        • Debian [debian.org] software quality and updating sheme are hard to beat. Yes, Star Office runs just fine on their stable distro.

        We can be sure that Dell, Gateway, etc would be happy to work with any of the above software firms for this contract.

        The fact of the matter is that the US Army took a half a million computer order and got themseves treated like some dinky midsized company with a thousand desktops. Next thing you know, they will be on the three year upgrade cycle [com.com]. They did it because they were told to do it that way or they were incompetent. Either way, it's un-fucking-forgivable. They have a whole, ummm, Army of technically qualified people!

        • by HBI (604924) <kparadine@@@gmail...com> on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:19PM (#6303651) Homepage Journal
          Twitter:

          Your open source advocacy is beyond reproach, but the reality of things is that the Army doesn't always get the best and brightest. MS' products _are_ easier to administer, which is why OSS has not made much of a dent in the desktop or file and print areas inside the Army. I know of several OSS advocates in my own organization: they are great, talented people, but if we try to hand Linux to some of the less skilled folks, we have an issue. OSS gets used in specific locations for specific tasks under close supervision. We get paid to make sure stuff runs, and meets user expectations. MS products do that, despite their negative facets, such as security vulnerability.

          Take that as answer to your first two pronouncements.

          In regards to contract secrecy, i'm sure if you dug hard enough you could find out what the details are. They just aren't being publicized.

          I like OSS. Linux, the BSDs, Apache, MySQL, the list goes on of fine packages I have used and will continue to use. Despite that, however, my job entails providing IT support for a busy organization. There is no time for advocacy for me. I have to do the job in the best way possible, taking into account manpower limitations, budget, and user expectation. When OSS fits, and does the job better, we use it. It doesn't always, though.

          Incidentally we have RH and Solaris running for various tasks.
  • by Meat Blaster (578650) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @09:56AM (#6302073)
    The Navy already uses Windows almost exclusively for its day-to-day computing, and it seems to be working out alright. Admittedly, it isn't cheaper out of the box, but I could see the total cost of ownership easily being lower given that they can procure much of what they need rather than depending on somebody in house to design it.

    They aren't a business. They can't afford to code up every little thing when they need it and they need to know that they can depend on somebody else to fix any problems that might come up. It's a variant of the "Who do you sue" problem. Microsoft's stuff is easily usable and ultimately gets the job done, which lets them focus on what's important.

    I'd hate to think that our fighting forces are futzing around for weeks on end trying to figure out how to get fonts to anti-alias, let alone getting the whole "enterprise" to work. Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP Professional streamline enterprise activities.

    • by kk5wa (118020) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @10:03AM (#6302184)
      AFAIK, WinXP has not been approved for use on any DoD network. There are a few stand-alone systems out there, but XP on a network is a big no-no.

    • by Mac Degger (576336) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @10:13AM (#6302317) Journal
      "They aren't a business. They can't afford to code up every little thing when they need it and they need to know that they can depend on somebody else to fix any problems that might come up."

      'scuse me, but a company that makes it's own multi-million dollar AAA computer game /for recruiting purposes/ AND gives it away /should/ be coding their own stuff.

      Not only that, but the armed forces /are/ a business. They work with budgets, have an IT department, hell, they even have an electronic warfare department which handles computer attacks too.
      Furthermore, when you use these systems to deploy nukes and other highly damaging weapons, do you want a stable system or do you rely on windows?

      And before you ask, yes, I'm running winXP, because it costs shit for me via the university and it's stable enough for me. It would be a different situation if I where directing lethal ordinance...but I'm not.
    • by Tim Macinta (1052) <twm@alum.mit.edu> on Thursday June 26, 2003 @10:21AM (#6302419) Homepage
      They aren't a business. They can't afford to code up every little thing when they need it and they need to know that they can depend on somebody else to fix any problems that might come up.
      Wait a minute... they just agreed to purchase half a billion dollars worth of software and you're saying they can't afford to hire people to oversee the customization and support they might need with something like Linux? For probably a lot less than half a billion dollars they could hire Linus himself and probably have more than enough left over to hire Alan Cox, RMS, and pretty much whomever else they please.
      It's a variant of the "Who do you sue" problem. Microsoft's stuff is easily usable and ultimately gets the job done, which lets them focus on what's important.
      If you have your own IT department custom rolling Linux distributions for you, you are going to get things that just work and are easy to use. The iRobots that debuted in Afghanistan ran Linux and I don't think anybody complained about needing to anti-alias fonts or that they were too hard to use. In fact, the soldiers had a very easy time learning to use them and found them to be invaluable. The point is, the military has successfully used Linux, they did get excellent support from a vendor, and they certainly didn't pay half a billion dollars for it.
    • $471,000,000 is not "futzing around for weeks". That kind of money buys a major development effort. Or, makes Microsoft very rich. Really, if anti-aliased fonts are important, you can sure get them for a lot less than that! Pretty much whatever you want, actually. What is amazing is that free software has come so far in so little time. Of course some pieces have "corporate sponsorship" or have been donated (OpenOffice.org comes to mind).

      What I find sad about this story is that a small injection of funding into the open source pool could have given comparable results, with the additional benefit that everyone would have an improved system to base on. The injection may have been as little as 10,000,000 US but it sure would have helped.

      In a sense you are right -- MS offers seamless (at the UI level) integration, and they make damn sure that the GUI functions work (other stuff may be badly broken, but the "user experience" rules). Because these are among the LEAST important aspects of computing for most people who contribute to open software (my list has functionality, stability first; if you want it pretty, pay me, because I can live with text interfaces), it would take an external influence to improve these factors. And a cash payout would have worked.

      What level of "enterprise" does Microsoft do well? A hint: they don't. It really is UI flash. MS operating systems don't support major transaction processing systems; they don't support major on-line bidding sites or email. We don't know if they scale well.

      It's a sad story; let me call my broker and buy some more MS.

      Ratboy.
    • by gregmac (629064) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @10:57AM (#6302771) Homepage
      The Navy already uses Windows almost exclusively for its day-to-day computing, and it seems to be working out alright.

      So what if you have to call a tow truck [gcn.com] every once in a while..

  • Sounds.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lugor (628175) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @09:56AM (#6302075)
    like the Army is paying for Microsoft's fine...

    Justice Department: Bad Microsoft.. you must pay $500 million and promise to never do it again.

    Defense Deparment: Here Microsoft.. $471 million for you...

    Right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing? Or does it?
  • by rampant mac (561036) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @09:56AM (#6302076)
    $471,000,000 dollars? That's like SIXTEEN hammers!
    • by Lord_Slepnir (585350) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @10:33AM (#6302538) Journal
      actually, It's 20 hammers. They've started melting down toilet seats to make them.
  • by Flamesplash (469287) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @09:57AM (#6302092) Homepage Journal
    Can we actually assume that the base OS is actually included in the $900+/comp. price? I think it's a little premature to assume so. Something not mentioned though is that this probably covers OS and software upgrades which can be expensive potentially

    I wonder if this basically is some sort of site license for all MS products for the Army.
  • by Poilobo (535231) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @09:57AM (#6302093) Homepage
    The deal $970 per seat includes OS, Exchange, SQL, and Office so that's about right.

    The article also says the US military seems to think Microsofts security problems were not significant enough to stop the deal.

    http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/128059_msft military25.html
  • by Wakko Warner (324) * on Thursday June 26, 2003 @09:58AM (#6302110) Homepage Journal
    My friend did some contract work for the Army a few months back. They needed a pair of IBM RS/6000 P-series 660s, fully loaded, attached to a pair of FastT700 fibrechannel arrays. Close to $1M worth of hardware, by my rough estimates, having purchased similar hardware in the past.

    This was for a workgroup of 30 people.

    Government contracts are the best.

    - A.P.
  • by medscaper (238068) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @10:00AM (#6302131) Homepage
    Saw that title, US Army Signs $471,000,000 Deal for Microsoft Software...

    I was thinking, "Wow! Bill finally sold!"

    And then, "Hmmm. They'll probably be enforcing those EULAs with an SKS muzzle in your mouth, now."

  • by BenjyD (316700) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @10:02AM (#6302167)

    " Keith Hodson, a Microsoft spokesman, said the contract could help the Army reduce its costs and "validates the Army's belief in our security model.""

    I guess the Iraqi information minister's initials being M.S. isn't a coincidence then - he appears to work for them

  • True cost... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BobRooney (602821) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @10:02AM (#6302174) Homepage
    While the cost of microsoft products, retail or OEM is substantially higher than Open Source alternatives, there is a consideration that is not addressed by that cost: Training.

    Most of the kids going into the army have some experience with computers: computers running Windows. The more familiar new recruits are with Army technology the less training will be required and the less time/resources/money need to be invested in getting newly enlisted GIs up to speed. The military is like a business in many ways. They write memos, reports, letters, make spreadsheets and send email. The most efficient way of getting all personel on the same page technologically is to deploy the "lowest common denominator". That is to say, software that is good enough and easy enough to use.
  • by GMontag (42283) <gmontag AT guymontag DOT com> on Thursday June 26, 2003 @10:03AM (#6302189) Homepage Journal
    although the article unfortunately doesn't provide details

    My suspicion is that there are enough details left out that the author and editor could print an alarmist article.

    Further suspicion is that there are MANY MORE aspects of this contract tha have been conveniently, or ignorantly, omitted.

    Little things, like perhaps Smartsoft has the better GSA rate for MS software than MS itself does? Maybe Smartsoft underbid their supplier and is providing professional services in addition to the software? Who knows, since no link to the contract award is provided and no refrence to what sort of purchase this "story" is referring, or avoiding to refer.

    You guys see this all the time with the $2B/aircraft stories, that conveniently leave out all of the special tools and other pricy items that come along with each Squadron delivered with only the "journalist" obscuring the real cost of the airplane since those costs are published buy the GAO with regularity. How is this any different or even news?
  • Its 6 years folks. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mac123 (25118) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @10:09AM (#6302258)
    $953/computer / 6 years = $158 per year.

    If this includes SQL, etc, all future releases, its likely a good deal as far as MS licensing costs go.
  • by DragonMagic (170846) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @10:10AM (#6302284) Homepage
    "B S O D in the Army~~~"

    Sorry, someone had to. (yeah, the syllables don't match up...)
  • by Lysol (11150) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @10:15AM (#6302349)
    Keith Hodson, a Microsoft spokesman, said the contract could help the Army reduce its costs and "validates the Army's belief in our security model."

    I can't wait to see this. I'm not sure if the Army will be significant enough pressure to make m$ security better. In fact, they're a small piece in the bigger pie.

    While this is probably cheaper than the defense departments $300 toilet seat vendors (hey, they probably at least had a backup toilet seat tho), it doesn't make too much sense to me. I'm reminded of the Navy vessel that crashed running NT [gcn.com].

    Given that XP is still having issues with updates and such, I'm wondering what the Army was thinking. But then again, that is often the case..
  • by Dr. Bent (533421) <.ben. .at. .int.com.> on Thursday June 26, 2003 @10:18AM (#6302382) Homepage
    ...reboot per day. At least the rifles aren't running Windows yet.
  • Who's paying? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by theolein (316044) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @10:20AM (#6302407) Journal
    Why, you are silly. Indirectly you pay for this with your taxes. You are supporting a huge corporation that truly has no need of government handouts.

    Congratulations.
  • by EdMack (626543) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @10:21AM (#6302416) Homepage
    In related news, the US has dropped millions of computers off to terrorist hot-spots.
    Military Analyists estimate Bin Laden will be bankrupted by the additional fees within 3 years.

  • by steve_of_AR (684787) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @10:23AM (#6302447)
    Well, that's great. (1) Government requires purchased OS's to adhere to new set of standards called POSIX. (2) UNIX vendors jump through hoops for a decade or more to develop and meet the standards. (3) Government buys MS instead.
  • by teamhasnoi (554944) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {ionsahmaet}> on Thursday June 26, 2003 @10:24AM (#6302454) Homepage Journal
    For that kind of money, they could have bought a new G5!
  • Taxes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by theolein (316044) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @10:29AM (#6302493) Journal
    I just made a post on you paying for this with your taxes, and now realise that the biggest, by far the biggest iraony in this "deal" is that Microsoft gets tax breaks like there's no tomorrow.

    I read with humour, the angry pro MS crowd who regularly vent their anger here on /. about the bias here, because those very same people fail to see the irony in paying for this deal indirectly with their taxes, and this to a company that hasn't exactly been paying huge dollops of taxes on it's yearly multi billion income.

    If your country ever does collapse, it will be because you have a government that thinks it can generate money from thin air, very much like the horde of dotbomb failures did.
  • by Gregoyle (122532) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @10:49AM (#6302680)
    Before you get on the Army for not buying Linux or doing something Free, consider this.

    In my unit (B Co. 1/509th Abn.) we have I think 7 systems. They all run Windows 2000 and are connected to a network, through which we can access printers, other systems, and the Internet. You would be *amazed* at how many people come in a day with problems printing, getting the Internet to work, or just getting a certain program to run. You want infantrymen who at least have some familiarty with office and windows to try learning bash or mutt? It's all we can do to get all the systems functioning properly, with everyone remembering their passwords and able to get there damned email and print. If the Army mandated Linux, there would be a 4 week training program, after which chaos would ensue because 90% of the people still didn't understand it.

    Your talking about people who have trouble checking email. Asking infantrymen to run linux as part of their work would be ludicrous at this point.
    • by Cheeze (12756) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @10:56AM (#6302762) Homepage
      yeah, because linux doesn't have a native GUI you think it's use would be hard to understand? Someone that's been running linux any amount of time could setup a machine for you that would have a GUI with only buttons for office apps, internet, and mail. It would also have the added benefit of native remote monitoring and administration, both of which the military would gain benefit from.

      If the army mandated a free operating system, they could modify the operating system to only provide the services that the army NEEDs. The problems you described do not happen with a properly configured system. If the system is setup correctly, the end user would not have the ability to make changes that would require downtime to fix. You have been trained by the Windows crowd to just accept downtime and failures as part of normal operation.

      I would guess even someone in B. CO 1/509th Abn could figure out. No offence intended.
      • by Dun Malg (230075) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:01PM (#6303453) Homepage
        If the army mandated a free operating system, they could modify the operating system to only provide the services that the army NEEDs

        Modified by whom? Certified for DoD use by whom? As for "services ...the army needs", even the army can't tell you that, so they'd say "just make it do everything". Also, who's going to port all the lame crap software the army already has that runs under windows? What if some of it can't be ported?

        The problems you described do not happen with a properly configured system.

        People don't forget passwords or forget which printer is theirs in Linux? [scoff!]

        I would guess even someone in B. CO 1/509th Abn could figure out.

        Figure out isn't the problem. You say Linux can be made unbreakable. Nobody who's ever given anything to an 11B (infantryman) ever calls anything unbreakable. You can't depend upon something being robust to protect it, you have to have people available who can fix it when it breaks.

        No offence intended.

        None taken. Hooah.

        SGT DunMalg 3/187th MI Bde 101st ABN Div (Air Assault) (1987-1993)

    • I'm an Army Sysadmin (Score:5, Interesting)

      by The Evil Couch (621105) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:04PM (#6303488) Homepage
      I fully agree, most of my users have serious problems just operating windows, let alone doing work on it. If you threw Linux at them, they would just stop using the computer and go back to doing everything on paper.

      another thing is that while the liscense costs for all the software that they're getting isn't horrible price-gouging, we don't fucking need it.

      I'm in an officer school, the only function for having a database is for keeping track of student information. I already have an access database in place with an oracle database slowly replacing it. I don't need or want SQL and NONE of my users need it, either. we don't need to buy a shit load of liscenses at slightly above prices, what we need is to break that chunk of cash up and give it to the units so that their Sysadmins and IMOs can determine what the unit needs.

      I'll give you a little story as an example of how trying to add too many pieces to the puzzle WILL fuck up a supply chain:
      earlier this year, I needed 14 computers. I sat down and figured out the paperwork bullshit and forms for it (I'm actually Infantry and have zero training for admin stuff). I priced out how much it would cost for what we needed and found several retailers that we could go through. I sent that stuff up to higher and after about 2 months of that paperwork going through commitee and bueracracy, I got 14 computers that were totally different from what I requested, cost more, lacked software liscenses and hardware that my users needed for them to do their jobs.

      anyone higher than brigade levels has no fucking clue what a battalion needs, and even then they don't really know.

      this whole package for stuff we don't need irritates me.
      • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:39PM (#6303821) Homepage Journal
        anyone higher than brigade levels has no fucking clue what a battalion needs, and even then they don't really know.

        Amen to that. When I was an Infantry officer I encountered the same thing. I figured, "Hey, in the *real* world of Corporate America, things must be more efficient. After all, since everyone is trying to save or make money, nobody will put up with this sort of wasteful bullshit. There are no Mad Minutes in Corporate America. There's no federal accounting that forces you to spend it or loose it.

        Then I started working in Corporate America, and found out that I was dead-wrong. Nobody literally gets on the firing line to blow off ammo before the fiscal year ends, but I've seen so many instances of ass-covering, ego driven "strategies" and just complete incompetence out here in the private sector. In fact, I've come to realize that while the Army's procurement system does suck ass through a straw, in many ways the overall efficiency of the Army (at least at the unit level) is far greater than that of most corporations.

        The military periodically gets nailed for million-dollar hammer episodes and the like, but believe me, staggering incompetence is not the exclusive domain of Uncle Sam.

  • by Bull999999 (652264) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @10:50AM (#6302685) Journal
    I'm a soldier in Army Reserve and my unit is an administrative unit, which means that we make heavy use of our computers. The computers are mainly used for typing memos, making simple spreadsheets, and downloading new forms and publications off of the Internet. I do not see why a Linux or BSD machines running Open Office, Mozilla, and xPDF (or Reader for UNIX) cannot replace the current Windows machines. I have talked to soldiers that came from other reserve and active duty units and they also use their computers for similar purposes. Only software that we use that is not on Linux is FormFlow, which is one of the crapiest software I've used (yes, even worse than Windows ME). It is a simple software, so it shouldn't cost much to program something like that for non-Windows platform.
  • Wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by stinky wizzleteats (552063) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @10:56AM (#6302749) Homepage Journal

    I'm really impressed. Microsoft must really have it on the ball. An organization known to pay $800 for a hammer chose Microsoft as their software vendor.

  • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @11:45AM (#6303275)
    Reading various comments here, I thought Iâ(TM)d stick my nose in. [background â" former USAF Windows programmer]

    Wait a minute... they just agreed to purchase half a billion dollars worth of software and you're saying they can't afford to hire people to oversee the customization and support they might need with something like Linux?
    Fools
    Waste of tax dollars
    Use a FOSS solution!
    Linux would be way better
    Simple corporate welfare
    Shame on the military for using Windows in the first place!
    BSOD
    Crashing missiles
    blah de blah de blah


    Hereâ(TM)s a shocker. Windows may be more cost effective for a huge organization that already is using Windows. Let me repeat thatâ¦

    Windows may be more cost effective.

    How so? They already use it. Switching to Linux for the desktop would take several years, and be considerably more than $0.5B. With the possibility of it going very, very wrong. Not all Win -> Linux conversions go smoothly.

    Why so long and costly? There are literally thousands of custom apps, large and small, that the Army runs on. Already written and in use. Everything from creating ID cards to allocating training munitions to various units. Currently, they run on Windows. What do you think they use now? Pencil and paper?All of these would have to be rewritten in some way. 2, 3, 5 10 years ago when all this stuff was being written, guess what? A viable Linux solution was but a wet dream. You had but 2 choices, Apple or Windows, for regular desktop deployment.

    Now...of course you cannot roll out a whole new desktop environment all across the Army on the same day. There will be considerable overlap. So you also have to ensure interoperability between old and new as you roll out. The Army cannot stop business for the several years while this is going on.

    You also have to ensure that all of your current hardware is supported. Are there Linux print drivers for the ID card printers? How about the digital camera for that?
    Can we build a Linux solution to interface with the hospital patient records db? Sure...but we already have a Windows solution that works, and works well.
    Can Civil Engineering find a Linux CAD solution, equivalent to AutoCAD, to design the plumbing and electrics for a new dormitory? Haven't seen one.
    What about Public Affairs and the imaging shop? Are there Linux drivers for the digital Nikons they use? Oh..we have to have those written. But there are already native Win drivers for those...supported from the factory.
    Laptops. Will Linux work on all the various laptops (with their custom mouse and video drivers) the Army deploys? Maybe...maybe not. But Windows already does. They might well have to buy a whole fleet of different laptops, if Linux can't be made to run effectively on the ones they have.

    Linux may well be more stable, secure, and crash (slightly) less. But this is basically desktop use. So what! This is regular desktop use. It just doesnâ(TM)t matter if it is not the most absolute secure system on the planet. These systems are not facing the outside. And not running life critical apps. They don't steer missiles with Win2K.

    Take all that into account (and this is but the merest tip of the iceberg) and staying with Windows might well be cheaper than trying to switch.
  • by Cthefuture (665326) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @11:58AM (#6303418)
    Seriously, did Redhat or any of the other big Linux players bid on this contract (IBM?)?

    If not, then shame on them. Maybe they didn't know the deal was going down, but often these RFP's are public information.

    That money would have gone a long, long ways towards making Linux the best OS out there. It's almost there now and just about any current distro would work fine, but that money could've been used to quickly fix any minor problems still plaguing Linux (eg. get rid of all text based config tools). As others have mentioned, they could've hired on the best Linux developers available to make everything 100% perfect. I don't think that little extra development would've taken any extra time out of their current schedule and would create jobs for many people along with increasing security, decreasing M$'s monopoly, and bettering open-source as a whole.

    As well...
    • by Cthefuture (665326) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:03PM (#6303482)
      Er, hate to reply to my own message but I hit the damn submit button...

      I believe that if it's at all possible, government money should be used to benefit the general population. Funding open-source projects is a good way to get the job done and benefit the tax payers as well. This project would've been perfect for that.

      Instead the money just goes to fund the richest corporation in the world.
    • by Dan Crash (22904) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:46PM (#6303886) Journal
      For that kind of money, why isn't the Army creating their OWN Linux distro? They could've started with the NSA's security-enhanced Linux [nsa.gov] and customized it from there. A half-billion dollars ought to be enough to build an operating system that would make OS X look like DOS. (Actually, I imagine it would cost much less to create their own distro -- perhaps only 10% of the Microsoft deal.)

      What's more, the Army would have total access to the code, they could make changes as needed, and they'd never have to spend another dime on OS licenses.

      I can't see any way that this deal makes sense. What a waste. Until I hear better, I'm considering this theft by cronyism [reference.com].
  • write (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportlandNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:02PM (#6303471) Homepage Journal
    write you representivities at how appalled you are at this. tell them your concerns that at a time of finincial hards ships, they are pay a 1/2 a billion dollars for something that could be done for at least half that.
    write your news papers. When the public finds out that the Army is wasting this kind of money when there children are have school days cut, and programs slashed from undernieth them. Write every newspaper you can think of, large and small. Make this an issue.

  • Disgusting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ogerman (136333) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @02:23PM (#6304815)
    One-tenth of that $471,000,000 would be easily enough to pay people to bring OpenOffice or KOffice well past the quality level of MS Office in a short amount of time.

    Think about it! One-tenth of that amount would mean 471 Open Source programmers paid $100,000 for a year.

    And yet all those tax dollars are instead being funneled into the Microsoft "Black Hole of Software License Fees" where they will never be seen again and where they will certainly not benefit the public interest. And that's just one-tenth of the contract! What about all that other money?! They could spend another four-tenths on XFree86, KDE, various security-related projects, etc. and STILL have half the contract amount left over to migrate existing army-specific software to Qt or other superior cross-platform toolkit able run native on both the new platform and any old Windoze machines that haven't been converted yet.

    I propose that we need a large non-profit Open Source consulting firm that specializes in large corporate and government contracts such as these. (Non-profit in the sense of the programmers are the only ones being paid.)

Real Users never know what they want, but they always know when your program doesn't deliver it.

Working...