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US DoD Hurry-Up Windows 10 Deployment

Industry observers have been keen to point out that while consumers have been fairly quick to move to Windows 10, enterprise users have not been quite as aggressive in their uptake. Thus, for example, when Microsoft revealed early in January that the total number of Windows 10 users had exceeded 200 million (including Xbox users), it also indicated that only about 10% of that population (22 million) represented seats in enterprise and education sectors. Enterprise Windows 10 deployment is about to get a major bump. That comes thanks to a memo from Department of Defense CIO, Terry A. Halverson, that is a major news focus this week (even though it’s dated 11/20/2015).

DoD Windows 10 Deployment Memo Excerpts

Here are some key snippets from this memo:

It is important for the Department [of Defense] to rapidly transition to Microsoft Windows 10 in order to improve our cybersecurity posture, lower the cost of IT, and streamline the IT operating environment.

This memo serves as notification that the DoD will direct Combatant Commands, Services, Agencies and Field Activities (CC/S/As) to rapidly deploy the Windows 10 operating system throughout their respective organizations starting in January 2016. This applies to all DoD information systems currently using Microsoft operating systems. The Department’s objective is to complete the deployment by January 2017. …

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and the National Security Agency (NSA) are co-leading a joint Secure Host Baseline (SHB) working group to prepare a Windows 10 Standard Desktop framework. The WIN 10 SHB will bring consistency to DoD host security configuration management activities and will be available to CC/S/A’s on DISA’s Information Assurance Support Environment Portal site … in January.

The distribution list for the memo covers all the bases: everybody’s migrating to Win10!

How serious is this Windows 10 deployment initiative? Any CC/S/A (Combatant Command, Service, or Agency and Field Activity) that wishes to extend its Windows 10 deployment beyond January 2017 must for waivers on a case-by-case basis. Any waivers that extend into 2018 must obtain approval from the DoD CIO — namely, Mr. Halvorsen himself.

DoD Windows 10 Deployment IS a Pretty Big Deal…

Press reports on the number of devices affected come from Microsoft’s Windows Experience Blog post dated 2/17/2016, entitled “US Department of Defense Commits to Upgrade 4 Million Seats to Windows 10.” The author, Yusuf Mehdi, is the Corporate VP for Microsoft’s Windows and Devices Group. This is an ambitious plan with a short timeline, and should definitely shake any wrinkles out of Microsoft’s staging and deployment tools and platforms. It promises to be something of “make-or-break” for Microsoft’s big plans to hit 1 billion Windows 10 users by 2017. The DoD effort will certainly be the biggest single Windows 10 deployment ever undertaken. If things go well, those plans will have earned a major endorsement; if not, …