Army sees OS obstacles

The Army's chief information officer confirmed earlier this week that the service may miss its Dec. 31 deadline to update all desktop computers to the Microsoft Corp. Windows 2000 operating system, enterprise directory and messaging system.

Lt. Gen. Steve Boutelle said he's satisfied with the progress toward converting computers to Windows 2000, Active Directory and Exchange 2003 at Army installations outside the United States. But Boutelle said he's more concerned about making the year-end goal at domestic commands.

In fact, the Army's top information technology official said the service would have a difficult time meeting the goal at home. Boutelle said the service's streamlined IT command structure and facilities abroad lend to a more efficient process, but the more decentralized one here makes the job harder. He discussed the subject during an Oct. 26 media briefing at the Association of the U.S. Army's 2004 Annual Meeting and Exposition.

Boutelle's statement affirms one Maj. Earl Robinson, the Army's assistant product manager for the Active Directory and Exchange 2003 program, made in August. Robinson said officials were planning for the possibility that some computers may not be converted from older versions of Windows because of infrastructure, staffing and training concerns.

Robinson led the effort that updated all computers at the Eighth U.S. Army on the Korean peninsula, and he issued tips in August on how to manage the process. Officials also migrated more than half of the computers at the Army's Medical Command.

Boutelle signed a Feb. 4 directive to phase out Windows NT 4.0 because of security concerns and because Microsoft will stop supporting it Dec. 31. The directive also retires the Windows X and Millennium Edition operating systems and identifies all resources on a network, making them accessible to users and applications.

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