New Aircraft Carrier to use Windows

Weapons systems for the new Ronald Reagan class carrier are to be based on unproven software from a company noted for unstable systems. Why?

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You'd think the Navy would have learned from the Yorktown fiasco not to trust shipboard systems to Microsoft operating systems. Well, maybe they have - and that's a risk Microsoft just isn't willing to take. Here's the sequence of events:
  1. Newport News Shipbuilding is awarded a contract for the first of the new "Ronald Reagan" class of aircraft carriers.

  2. Bill Gates gets out his check book and instantly becomes the second largest stockholder (owner) in Newport News Shipbuilding.

  3. Newport News Shipbuilding selects Microsoft to develop the warfare systems. Microsoft, a company with no experience in warfare systems, and a reputation for unstable, insecure software, will base the Ronald Reagan's warfare systems on an unproven operating system with 63,000 known bugs . . err, oops, I meant "points of focus" - Windows 2000.

  4. Press releases were sent out assuring us Bill Gates' huge investment had nothing to do with the decision. So see there, Doreen - what we did last month had nothing to do with your pregnancy - it's right here in my press release.

  5. Once Newport News is in too deep to bail out, Bill Gates will be free to sell his stock holdings and use the money to make sure some other company makes the "right" decision.
Do we have positive proof for use of influence here, i.e. "the smoking gun"? Of course not. We're going to have to wait for some court case to subpoena the e-mail for that, and then Microsoft will try to buy a gag order as they always do, but the coincidence level us just way too high here, and this investment technique has become routine for Microsoft.
  • Last year, Microsoft used a major investment to make sure AT&T made the "right" decision on the operating system for its set top boxes.
  • Last year, to make sure corporate executives hear the right message, Microsoft made a major investment in a large computer consulting and integration firm. This "independent" consultancy now recommends only Windows 2000 based solutions.
  • When Apple was down on its luck, Microsoft made an investment in Apple to assure a decision to make Internet Explorer Apple's official Web browser.
  • Lots more like this.

What if the warfare systems never work right? What does Microsoft care about that. There'll always be someone else to blame. Think NatWest Bank.

Why does Microsoft keep doing things like this? Why don't they just compete on merit like everyone else? Well, there's a problem with competing on merit - odds are, the best product will win. Those are odds Microsoft has never been comfortable with. As long as they don't have to compete on merit, they won't, and with their money, buying decisions is the path of least resistance.

But, as usual, there's an upside. System support people everywhere are rolling on the floor laughing at all the new on-line jokes about events on the Ronald Reagan as it goes into battle. Unfortunately, for the sailors, and for national defense, these will not be jokes.

More details on the aircraft carrier deal can be found at CBS News.

©:Andrew Grygus - Automation Access - www.aaxnet.com - aax@aaxnet.com
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