FAA considers dumping Microsoft’s Windows and Office for Linux and Google Apps

“FAA chief information officer David Bowen said he’s taking a close look at the Premier Edition of Google Apps as he mulls replacements for the agency’s Windows XP-based desktop computers and laptops,” Paul McDougall reports for InformationWeek.

“Bowen cited several reasons why he finds Google Apps attractive. ‘It’s a different sort of computing strategy,’ he said. ‘It takes the desktop out of the way so you’re running a very thin client. From a security and management standpoint that would have some advantages,'” McDougall reports.

McDougall reports, “Google launched Google Apps Premier Edition last month at a price of $50 per user, per year. It features online e-mail, calendaring, messaging, and talk applications, as well as a word processor and a spreadsheet. The launch followed Google’s introduction of a similar suite aimed at consumers in August. The new Premier Edition, however, offers enhancements, including 24×7 support, aimed squarely at corporate and government environments.”

“Bowen said he’s in talks with the aviation safety agency’s main hardware supplier, Dell Computer, to determine if it could deliver Linux-based computers capable of accessing Google Apps through a non-Microsoft browser once the FAA’s XP-based computers pass their shelf life,” McDougall reports.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Once the FAA’s XP-based computers pass their shelf life, they should be replaced with very competively-priced, and often less expensive, Apple Macs – the only personal computers capable of running Mac OS X, Linux, and Windows natively and/or via fast virtualization (Google lists Apple’s Safari as a supported browser for Google Apps or use Firefox on the Macs). Maximum bang for the buck means Apple Mac. This is obvious and logical – which explains why a government official isn’t considering it.

Contact info:
David Bowen
FAA Chief Information Officer
Orville Wright Bldg. (FOB10A)
FAA National Headquarters
Room Number 602
800 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20591

Online email form (use “other” for Category field): http://faa.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/faa.cfg/php/enduser/ask.php

Related article:
US DOT, FAA ban ‘upgrading’ to Windows Vista, Explorer 7, Office 2007 – March 02, 2007


  1. Thin computing is as bad an idea as buying from Microsoft.

    The real solution is to put more power and flexibility into the hands of the users so that real innovation can flourish, not concentrate it with the IT department, where it will only be used for political power within the organization.

    MDN Magic Word: already. As in, thin computing has already been tried, and it has failed every time is was tried.

  2. This was all explained in Monday’s Roughly Drafted.

    As much as we think the Mac sells itself, Dell is the FAA’s current supplier and if Apple wants to change that they need to get their Enterprise salespeople into the FAA to make the pitch (or petition Congress to open the contract up for a competitive bid).

  3. It is a step in the right direction, away from Microsoft. But why Linux? I use linux on old windows systems to get some use out of outdated equipment, but for anything new it has to be a Mac. I can compile any linux app to run on the Mac. If the FAA needs something that is a linux Binary, they have the clout to get it recompiled for the mac.

    If they are unable to get any windows or Linux app, natively on the mac, there is always Parallels, VMWare and or Boot Camp.

    Buy a Mac … run anything!

  4. “The real solution is to put more power and flexibility into the hands of the users so that real innovation can flourish, not concentrate it with the IT department, where it will only be used for political power within the organization.” — Chris

    Contextually speaking, your solution makes little sense, unless of course you’re suggesting empowering the workforce but quite frankly, I can think of a half a dozen alternatives that don’t involve computers.

    Thin clients are probably the best solution for the FAA. The CIA and FBI finally wised up to thin clients, so I’m sure the FAA will make good use of them as well.

    The FAAs investigatory element requires access to highly sensitive databases and sending laptops out into the field with hard drives loaded with this critical information is just asking for trouble.

    A thin client laptop however, can connect to a Virtual Private Network through an encrypted tunnel over a public network (the internet) to access these databases without risk or compromise to the data.

    The current solution is to deploy laptops out into the field with hard drives loaded with this highly sensitive information and how many times have lost or stolen laptops with sensitive data on them compromised an organization?

  5. Tommy boy makes good point.

    Maybe there’s a solution: what if Apple addressed the problem that having just one suppler of computers that run OS X doesn’t fit the government’s way of doing business?

    Apple could set up another computer company, control the technology and license this new company to use Mac OS X.

    This would give government purchasing agents a choice of two suppliers. The computers could be designed and configured differently to meet the minimum standards government might specify, without affecting Apple’s product line in any way. Shares could be offered to the public over time. And with more volume, Apple would make more money than ever on its investment in software.

  6. oh please, as if the FAA is gonna go with Macs… they’re great, but still in the luxury budget. you think a govt agency is gonna spend $1000 per computer that can only be built by one company? i love macs, but the answer is no… this is more of a linux/google/anti msft story than a mac story

  7. Every time M$ releases a new OS..

    …we hear of buisnesses and government agencies “considering” alternative non-M$ solutions for their computing needs.

    This is the only leverage people have against the M$ monopoly and it’s huge costs.

    The unfortunate truth is they always go back to the vomit of Microsoft solutions and accept even more control.

    One must completely break from the Stockholm Syndrome which is Microsoft software and embrace something else. Like Mac’s for instance.

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