Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Schriever Sentinel

Windows 7: A not so different vista

By Staff Sergeant Erica Picariello

50th Space Wing Public Affairs

A migration has taken off at Schriever and, just like our feathered friends, it is not optional.

Beginning Dec. 20, a select group of 50th Space Communications Squadron members’ computer operating systems will be upgraded overnight from Windows Vista to Window’s premier operating system, Windows 7.

The rest of the base will soon follow suit.

“It’s important for Schriever members to know that the migration to Windows 7 is mandatory,” said Kevin Hansen, 50 SCS Deputy Program manager. “This migration is important for operational security and user compatibility.”

Computer operating system upgrades are not new to the technology world nor should they be to seasoned Air Force members.

“The Air Force has been upgrading operating systems ever since we went to Windows 5, called New Technology, in 1994,” said Mr. Hansen. “Every couple of years we have to upgrade to new operating systems because of security issues. Once Microsoft releases a new operating system, they stop plugging the holes in the old system. You get the new version and the old security issues are taken care of… meaning that Windows Vista is not as secure as Windows 7.”

PC users may be painfully aware of Microsoft’s automatic updates when a pop-up appears on their home computer to install those pesky “Microsoft critical updates” which are frequently accompanied by a mandatory restart.

“Windows updates, or patches, plug security holes,” said Mr. Hansen. “At some point in time the system becomes too old or the company goes to a newer version and that new version plugs all those security holes, but they in turn create new holes. However, those new holes haven’t had the chance to be found yet. “

The average user shouldn’t feel intimidated by this new operating system because it’s newer technology; there is only a slight interface change, infrequent updates and better technical support.

“Windows 7 is very close to Vista and shouldn’t take very long to learn,” said Rick Hughes, 50 SCS Operations Flight chief. “Some nice features in the background are the ability for the service desk to more easily gain remote access into your machine. “

Even though the new system will magically appear on work computers without any effort from the member, it would behoove members to cover their assets.

“We’re using a new tool, User State Migration Tool, for this upgrade,” said Mr. Hansen. “When using this tool we should be able to flawlessly migrate users’ profiles and operating system to their computer about 95 percent of the time. The key to this process is the user heeding the instructional e-mail we send out a week prior to the week we migrate. There is a link on the e-mail that directs the user to the Air Force Portal where there are instructions on how to back up your data, basically step-by-step instructions to a flawless migration.”

Mr. Hughes cautions the user to use the guidance approved.

“The user is responsible for their data,” he said. “We can’t be responsible for everyone’s data because we’re trying to migrate 300 machines a week. Hopefully it’ll work right using USMT, but if it doesn’t, the user should have backed up their data to ensure that they can get it back. “

Those migrations won’t be possible if Schriever Airmen let their computer sleep on duty.

“We have about a 30 percent failure rate now because we had planned on doing the migrations at lowest volume time, at night, but computers were going into hibernation mode thus making the upgrade impossible or users were powering their computers off for the night,” Mr. Hughes lamented. “We’ve combated that by pushing the install time up to 5 p.m. before they’ve gone to mandatory sleep mode to save energy.”

All this computer information may seem overwhelming to Airmen excluded from the communications career field, but the 50 SCS is here to help.

“Honestly, customer service is very important to us and by doing 300 machines a week we can get the added applications put onto the machines by the weekend so that they are back in operation by the beginning of the following week,” Mr. Hughes said. “Nothing that we’re doing should interfere with anybody’s workday.”

The pessimists who are hesitant to take the word of the migrator may appreciate the view of a migratee.

“I came into work, turned on my machine and everything was there, including my documents and bookmarks,” said Master Sgt. Bob Cannon, Operations Flight superintendent. “I did back up my files just in case, just like the email instructed, but everything was there. My machine worked faster and, honestly, I think Windows 7 is easier to use.”

All 3,600 Schriever computers are slated to complete migration to Windows 7 by mid-June.

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