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Wednesday, April 26, 2006


The U.S. military & Microsoft

Microsoft announced its next operating system, "Longhorn," in 2001, introduced it to developers in 2003, renamed it to "Windows Vista" in July, 2005, and is now claiming it will ship the product in January, 2007.

Equally eager to dangle a carrot in front of the nose of its target audience is the U.S. military:

As the top U.S. commander in Iraq suggested today that the United States would soon reduce the number of troops in Iraq, Pentagon planners said to ABC News that they hoped to pull more than 30,000 troops out by the end of the year, and possibly by as early as November.
And just like Microsoft has its excuses for the delays, so does the U.S. military:
The reductions depend on political and security progress in Iraq.
And, just as with Microsoft announcements, the media continue to parrot each U.S. military announcement of "possible" troop reductions as if they have any basis in reality.

The analogy does fall apart however (aside from the fact that Microsoft products don't usually result in death). Even if the U.S. military does manage to pull out 30,000 troops by the end of the year, it won't be the equivalent of a new release. More like a service pack. Just like Windows needs to be totally replaced by MacOS or Linux, the U.S. military and the system it represents (and defends) needs to replaced by a totally new system. In the short term, however, we'll settle for a complete withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Update: By a curious coincidence, the latest issue of eWeek magazine just arrived, carrying this story:

Microsoft has 'fessed up to hiding details on software vulnerabilities that are discovered internally, insisting that full disclosure of every security-related product change only serves to aid attackers.
Yup, that sounds like the U.S. military, alright, keeping a tight lid on its transgressions using the excuse of not aiding attackers. The only difference is that the military doesn't "'fess up."

Second update: On CNN's Anderson Cooper 360, tonight, Cooper led into this story by talking about how troops might be coming home "soon." A little later, he elaborated and used the "end of the year" formulation. Clearly Anderson works from a different calendar than I do, if he thinks that eight months qualifies as "soon." Of course that's precisely what this whole story is about, and Anderson Cooper and most others in the press play right into the Administration's wishes -- in order to weaken the opposition to the war, convince the American people that they will "soon" be withdrawing troops, even when they have no such intention.

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