Hold off on that Windows 7 installation

No sense in installing Windows 7 before the final version of federal desktop security guidelines

Several federal agencies, including all of the military services, jumped at the opportunity to start testing Windows 7, but it will be a while before they can implement the new OS for real. Why? Because they have to wait for the Federal Desktop Core Configuration (FDCC) to be finalized.

The FDCC is a list of settings for various operating systems, all designed to optimize a computer’s security. The current version of the FDCC has 674 settings for Windows XP and Vista. The National Institute of Standards and Technology started work on a new version that contains Windows 7 settings back in June. However, despite the early start NIST still must post the proposed new version for public comment, and it probably won’t be finalized until spring 2010.

The Air Force started the FDCC, and the rest of the federal government quickly adopted it as a way to radically reduce setup and patching times, and to drastically cut down on help desk calls. And that it did, saving millions through bulk purchasing and decreased technical support time.

And that's why everyone in government is waiting to implement Windows 7. It would be a waste of effort to start installing it only to find out that you guessed wrong on some of the security settings. This could double your implementation time, effectively negating the benefits that could be reaped from following the FDCC guidelines. So in this case, waiting is the right thing.

Besides, this timeline jibes well with my standing policy. For my own personal computers, I always wait for the first service pack to be released before installing any new operating system. And since service packs tend to take from six months to a year to come out, waiting for both won’t cost any extra time.

About the Author

Greg Crowe is a former GCN staff writer who covered mobile technology.

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