Microsoft has signed a $617 million agreement with the US Department of Defense that will bring Windows 8, Office 2013, and SharePoint 2013 to 330,000 government workers.
The deal, which Microsoft announced on Friday, will provide three years of software licensing for 75 percent of personnel in the US Army, the US Air Force, and the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). Insight Public Sector, a Microsoft reseller, brokered the cross-agency deal.
Employees will immediately begin using Windows 8 and standardizing on Office 2013 and SharePoint 2013 Enterprise. Microsoft said the common platforms will foster collaboration and information sharing across the Department of Defense and support its priorities of datacenter consolidation, collaboration, cybersecurity, mobility, cloud computing, and big data.
The Windows 8 platform has been drawing a cool reception from users. This deal, the most comprehensive licensing agreement Microsoft has made with the DoD to date, could help boost acceptance among enetrprises or other government agencies while lowering licensing costs for the US government.
"There's a move afoot throughout the department to bring about efficiencies" in information technology, David L. DeVries, deputy chief information officer at the DoD, told the American Forces Press Service. "We took a long, hard look at it... realizing that the Department of Defense relies upon the network and upon information technology to do its business."
The licensing deal is also designed to help advance the DoD's continued focus on mobile computing. The agreement "recognizes the shift to mobility," Navy Rear Adm. David G. Simpson, the DISA's vice director and senior procurement executive, told the American Forces Press Service. "Microsoft is committed to making sure that the technology within the agreement has a mobile-first focus, and we expect to begin to take advantage of Microsoft's mobile offerings as part of our enterprise mobility ecosystem."
The software package has been customized to meet the DoD's security needs. The Army and Air Force negotiated with Microsoft to meet complex technical and security requirements. As David Wagner told us in October, security features have been improved in the latest Windows iteration, and DoD use may help to highlight those improvements.