Army, Air Force and DISA will move to Windows 8

Seth Perlman/AP

New Microsoft enterprise contract also includes Office 2013.

The Army, Air Force and Defense Information Systems Agency will soon run the Microsoft Windows 8 operating system, thanks to a $617.3 million enterprise licensing pact signed in December.

The software deal, executed through a contract with Insight Public Sector in Chantilly, Va., also includes Microsoft Office 2013 and SharePoint 2013. Microsoft said the Windows 8 software can be run on mobile devices, as well as laptops and desktops.

Navy Rear Adm. David G. Simpson, DISA’s vice director and senior procurement executive, said the license deal will provide better value at a lower price. The Air Force estimated it will save $50 million annually during the three year contract and the Army estimated it will save $70 million a year from the bulk purchase.

The Navy signed a $700 million software pact with Microsoft in July 2012, which calls for delivery of the Windows 7 operating system. The company said the move will help lay the foundation for a rapid transition to Windows 8.

The Windows 8 operating system replaces the familiar desktop interface and application icons with clickable app tiles suited to work on smartphones and tablets, as well as PCs. It is described by reviewers as an interface “you will either love or hate,” but gets points for fast boot times and security.