FEMA opts to make Windows 98 standard

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has become one of the first agencies to
standardize on Microsoft Windows 98 as the operating system for any new PCs it buys.

Concern about year 2000 readiness prompted FEMA’s Information Technology Policy
Branch to approve a plan to buy new PCs with Win98, said Paul L. Alberti, a computer
specialist in FEMA’s IT Services Unit. The agency’s installed PC base, however,
will “bite the bullet” and stay with Windows 95, he said.

“Different organizations may want to try new things,” he said, but buying
Win98 on new PCs is now official FEMA policy.

Most of the existing 1,500 PCs at FEMA headquarters run Win95. About 3 percent run
something else, Alberti said. FEMA will likely upgrade all these users’ PCs to
Windows NT Workstation 5.0 when it comes out, he said.

FEMA has 10 regions, two national processing centers, disaster field offices,
contractors and on-call disaster relief employees.

The variety and number of sites makes it difficult to estimate how many PCs FEMA has
agencywide. Therefore, he said, it is likely that the implementation of the Win98 policy
will be uneven.

FEMA officials originally planned to buy only Win95 while waiting for NT 5.0. But
Alberti said they changed their minds after realizing they would have to download patches
from Microsoft Corp.’s Web site to make Win95 year 2000-ready.

Moving to Windows NT 4.0 also did not seem to be the right answer because it requires
“extensive work to reformat hard drives,” Alberti said. “It is very
hardware-specific, and we suspect several of our older legacy applications will not run
under NT.”

PCs that FEMA has bought since June 25, including 40 acquired last month, all came with
Win98 installed, Alberti said. 

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