Feds get insider's view of Windows Vista

Some agencies hope to avoid logistical and managerial headaches by working with Microsoft early in the process of adopting the Windows Vista operating system.

Officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Army discussed their participation in Microsoft’s Technology Adoption Program (TAP) today at an industry event sponsored by the Potomac Forum. Agencies that participate get insider information about the beta software and features they might use in the work environment. They also give feedback to the Windows Vista development team.

The agency officials said that staying on top of Vista developments allows them better insight into how the operating system works and how best to adopt it agencywide.

“The only way to stay ahead of the curve is [if] you have an insider understanding of what this product might do to benefit you or where the problems might lie,” said Richard Gordon, chief technology officer at the SEC. Business editions of Windows Vista will be available in November, so agencies in the adoption program will have a head start in converting to the new operating system.

Gordon said training is one of the major difficulties he has had in introducing new technologies. “When new products are brought to the market, there’s frequently an emotional response by the organization, [saying] 'This is bad, we can’t entertain this,’” he said. “It's the IT team you have to drag to the finish line. You’ve got to train them.”

Other said policy changes can be difficult to implement for new technologies. But having prior insight into the features, benefits and weaknesses of a product can help shape the policy. "It takes the army forever to change policy," said Lt. Col. C.J. Wallington, Army director of advanced technologies. "Why don’t we craft the policy now so that policy is delivered hand-in-hand when the new product comes out on the street?"

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