Army passing on Notes

The Army is preparing to announce that it will use Microsoft Corp. messaging

software rather than Lotus Development Corp.'s Notes to pass tactical messages

with the Army Battle Command System (ABCS), according to industry and Army

sources.

The switch will allow the Army to keep the Unix hardware it has invested

in and will limit the impact on warfighters who transition from peacetime

to wartime messaging operations, according to Microsoft.

ABCS has been based on secure messaging software from Lotus running

on Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris, a Unix operating system. The Army had

cited security as the chief reason it did not select Microsoft's Exchange

and the Windows NT operating system.

But on Aug. 14, industry demonstrated how a Nexor Inc. product called

Defender for Motif can enable a Unix workstation to serve as a client to

Microsoft Exchange.

The Army now is preparing to switch to Defender and Microsoft Exchange,

according to Army and industry sources. The Nexor product has the look and

feel of Outlook, so agencies will not need to retrain their personnel.

Microsoft officials said they hope the technology will be adopted for

the Global Command and Control System, the Global Combat Support System

and the Defense Message System.

ABCS workstations are at the core of the Army's Force XXI initiative,

which aims to use commercial networks, computers and other technologies

in the battlefield. It will provide soldiers with information about troop

location and strength, logistics support and other command and control data.

ABCS has three major components: the Army Global Command and Control

System, the Army Tactical Command and Control System, and the Force XXI

Battle Command, Brigade-and-Below system. It is the integration of command

and control systems found at all echelons and of battlespace automation

systems and communications that link strategic and tactical headquarters.

Working under a $50,000 contract, Microsoft and Nexor in a relatively

short time accomplished what the Army so far had been unable to achieve

after two years and millions of dollars, according to Microsoft officials.

"In 45 days we were able to provide all the functionality, and we successfully

demonstrated that to the [program executive office for command, control,

communications and surveillance]," said Tim Dioquino, DMS product manager

at Microsoft's federal division.

A Lotus spokeswoman said Friday that the company was unaware of any

Army decision on this matter.

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