Operating System Upgrade In Holding Pattern
Federal Aviation Administration officials issued an internal
memo earlier this year, saying the agency will pass for now on
upgrading its computer systems -- citing hardware requirements for
Microsoft's widely-hyped Windows Vista operations system as a major
The memo, dated January 26, 2007, was written by Chief
Information Officer Dave Bowen, and Vice President for acquisition
and business services James Washington just prior to Windows
Vista's commercial release later that month. They point out that
Vista requires "twice the memory ...than that currently specified
in the FAA Desktop standard configuration," according to
The memo also notes the new operating system needs "a faster
processor" and graphics cards that are currently beyond the
hardware specifications of PCs used by the FAA. The Microsoft
recommendation for running business editions of Windows Vista is at
least a 1-GHz processor, 1 GB of system memory, and a 40-gigabyte
hard drive with 15 GB of free space.
The memo warns FAA tech staffers to be "on guard" against heavy
sales pitches from Microsoft during the initial rollout period for
Windows Vista. "We anticipate that this introduction will be
accompanied by significant advertising hype and salesperson
activity," the document, obtained by Information Week, states.
Bowen told Information Week in a March interview he might
permanently bypass upgrading the FAA's 45,000 desktops to Windows
Vista. At that time, he was instead considering PCs running a
combination of Linux and Google's online Google Apps productivity
Hardware issues aren't the agency's only concern about
Microsoft's new desktop software environment. Internet Explorer 7.0
Web browser is not compatible with many Web applications and
Microsoft Office 2007's Open Document Format just won't work with
the Lotus Notes e-mail software.
The memo orders various units within the FAA to "refrain from
acquiring Microsoft's Vista operating system and Office 2007
products" and to "continue to order Microsoft's XP operating system
and Office 2003, the current FAA standards."
The FAA isn't alone is its concerns. NASA and the Department of
Transportation have also reportedly refused to upgrade to Vista,
due to compatibility and cost concerns.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer met with IT professionals at
Microsoft's Redmond, WA campus last month. He denied a claim made
by a NASA computer scientist that Vista has been banned by most
sectors of the federal government.
"Vista has been anything but banned from most parts of the US
federal government," Ballmer said. He claimed "a number" of
government accounts were adopting the operating system, but did not
"In the past 18 months, the vast majority of PCs sold met or
exceeded the minimum requirements [for running Windows Vista], so
many organizations should already have a sizeable portion of the
desktop environment that is more than ready," said Microsoft
product manager Mike Burk.
Microsoft officials voice confidence the FAA and other agencies
will, indeed, upgrade to Vista when their current computers become