The Blue Sea of Death

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"The Navy's next-generation aircraft carrier -- the symbol of American military might around the world -- will rely on a futuristic version of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system and other commercial technologies for command and control.... Microsoft Federal Systems will help design the ship's IT architecture based on the company's Windows 2000 platform." -- Federal Computer Week


Have you ever gotten the Blue Screen of Death on one of those supposedly stable Windows NT systems? Do you remember Back Orifice? Is it just me, or do the half-page of security bulletins on the Windows 2000 security page make you a little jumpy about using a version of it for command and control on an aircraft carrier?

And wasn't it just in February when one of the Navy's top guns slammed Microsoft for ignoring their biggest customer and producing stuff that he felt was inferior to many shareware products?

I'm hardly a security expert, although I have read about Microsoft NT and its C2 evaluations. Of course, I have no idea what that means. But, I do know that if you're an 11-year-old malcontent living in suburban ennui, hacking into one of the Navy's aircraft carriers is probably pretty high up on your list of "cool things I'll accomplish by the time I hit puberty."

Yet, I've heard Windows 2000 is pretty darn bulletproof. I realize it's stable stuff and pretty secure as far as operating systems go. But really, it doesn't make me sleep better at night knowing that Gates and company are responsible for our nation's defense.

I can just hear it now, "But you have to understand, Mr. President, those launch codes are an integral part of our operating system. We can license them for your use, but we own them, and you're going to have to pay to use them. If you don't like it, we'll just have to give them away for free on the Internet and force you out of business."

Yes, yes, I know. I'm experiencing a typical Machead's knee-jerk reaction to reading anything about Microsoft. But I'm not advocating that the government equip their shiny next-gen carriers with OS X. Because, you know, I'd rather have something -- anything -- running those Navy computers before OS X rolls out in 2010. (That's a joke, by the way. No need to write me hate mail. I know OS X will be out before 2010. I fully expect to have a beta version installed on my desktop by at least 2006.)

I'm just worried that our carriers will be so busy rebooting all the time that they won't have any time left to go out and blow things up. And that's no good for anybody. Except, of course, the people whose stuff would have been blown up.

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