back to article Windows for Warships™ reaches Royal Navy frigates

The Royal Navy's plan to fit most of its fleet with command systems based on Windows boxes continues, with the commencement last week of a programme intended to replace the existing commandware of the Service's Type 23 frigates. The Type 23s will make up the majority of the British surface fleet for the foreseeable future. …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Oh god

    Could everyone please exercise some restraint before making tedious, unfunny and predictable jokes about this?

  2. adam


    error in missile_launch.exe

    We are sorry but this program has caused an error and will be closed.

    Sorry for screwing up your war. Microsoft apologizes for any inconvenience caused.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Automatic Updates?

    Lets hope it doesnt do an automatic update and sneak onto your screen the notice asking if you want to reboot just as you are hitting Enter for another reason!

  4. Albert Lederer
    Gates Horns

    Back to the future?!?

    Windows for Warships? Been there, done that, didn't work then either...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    @AC - no predictable jokes...

    Oh please...

    There's new meaning to 'patch tuesday', could become 'bunker tuesday'.

    A new quaintness to virus's with names like the 'I love you' virus.

    A whole can of worms in the "windows and world domination" area, a possible B3ta comp relating to dressing our beloved paper clip in combat fatigues...

    and my of course a whole 'raft' of jokes about 'shipping' software.

    No doubt there will be many more to make first day back at work a little funnier.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Ah well.

    At least they're not putting it on the Boomers. That would be a serious BSOD!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    i have to ask

    So when's the Vista "upgrade" scheduled for...?

  8. Danger Mouse
    Thumb Down

    WTF OK'd this

    Someone at the civil service/MOD has obviously taken a bung to OK this move. Letter off to my MP this afternoon demanding an enquiry,

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Open for business

    Running to the docks with for some wardriving.

  10. Dave

    a question of size

    LP wrote: "It would seem that one large customer at least ..."


    In the overal scope of M$'s customer base the total of all UK computing doesn't really amount to very much

    of which UK official computing is a small fraction

    of which UK MoD computing is a small fraction

    of which RN warship computing is a small fraction

    so, not much to see here, then, move along

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    No, we can't excercise restraint, sorry

    "You seem to be trying to start a war, would you like some help?"

  12. Anonymous Coward

    @Danger Mouse

    Personally, I'll be asking for an inquiry...

  13. Anonymous John

    @ Oh god

    No. I only come here for the predictable jokes.

    "It looks like you're attacking another ship. Would you like help?"

  14. Anonymous Coward

    How long...

    Until someone posts a pathetic unfunny unoriginal load of bollocks about a BSOD, supposedly disguised as a joke.

    You are the joke.

  15. N

    BSOD becomes reality...

    Windows detected an incoming Exocet missile & has had to close.

    Try freeing up some memory or disk space

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Jeremy

    If the joke is funny then by all means post it. Most of what passes for 'humour' in the comments on this site is just smug, self-serving waffle.

    I didn't mean to come off as being quite so miserable in my first post!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    here's a thought

    With the US now in full swing with its plans to develop uber viruses and other goodies to crash and burn networks and systems, is it really wise to build your military systems with off the shelf kit?

  18. Anonymous Coward

    I've got a..

    sinking feeling about this ...

    Mines the one in DPM firmly entrenched on land.

  19. Doug Glass

    Frigate Windows

    "Made in America, tested in England". At least it isn't Fat Man or Little Boy.

    Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "Naval Destroyer".

  20. Andy G

    it gives . . .

    a whole new meaning to the term


    OMG !!! lol

  21. Anonymous Coward

    HMS Microsoft

    Did the RN agree to the EULA? Does this mean that Microsoft can now, on a whim, take possession of our naval fleet? (Not that we have much of a navy left).

    How much did the bribes^H^H^H^Hfact finding trips cost?

  22. Portent
    Thumb Down


    let's hope the warships work on years with a Julian date of 366?

  23. His Geekishness


    Considering M$'s "oh-we're-just-updating-the-updating" backdoor, Mr. Gates actually manages to get paid to take control of some expensive military gear. You have to admit, that is no small feat, even if WiFoWaShi probably only can be disabled remotely.

    Seriously, this HAS to be some sort of giant hacker-recruiting ploy. It's hard to imagine a more enticing soft target.

    I simply refuse to believe that IT workers at the MoD are dumb enough to actually let this become a reality.

    Mine's the one with 'I Do Not Want To Believe This' on the back.

  24. cor
    Paris Hilton

    Is there an ulterior plan here?

    France's defense system runs mainly on a Linux derivative.

    Paris, because even she'd defend her honour with something more reliable than Windows.

  25. Bill Cumming

    Come on! just ONE joke...

    Microsoft did customize this version of Windows.....

    The BSoD is now renamed and recoloured to the "NBSoD" (Navy Blue Screen of Death)...

    ...mine is the one with the built in survival suit...

  26. Henry Cobb
    Gates Halo

    Is Windows for Submarines a sunk cost?

    Actually compared to the lads who usually write software for the Military Industrial Complex (MIC), Microsoft is the good guys.

    After all the F-22 dateline crash had nothing to do with Microsoft.

    But if we yanks do go to war with your limeys, we'll be sure to attack on Dec 31st, 2012 when Microsoft's quadannual leap year bug will crash all of you'll's systems.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @cor re: France's defence systems

    Shame the cheese eating surrender monkeys will never actually use such systems in combat though.

    Unless of course they are in control of white flag hoisting control systems.

  28. Pete Silver badge

    At least WfW won't crash

    but it might just sink.

    In response to "god", the answer has to be a profound No! This has far too much potential for humour to be passed up.

    However, in response to the article:

    > beat the dreaded supersonic sea-skimmers of the future to the punch ......

    > ... they will need to let their command systems shoot instantly

    err, no. Check your maths. If a missile inbound at 1000 mph can be detected at about 10 miles away. (as happened during the Falklands) That gives the target roughly half a minute to act before the "boom", or splash, if the missile is also running WfW (or WfM). Hardly an instant response, provided of course you don't spend that time waiting for the anti-missile system to boot up.

  29. N


    No disappointments there then!

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    What's the beef?

    Surely running on Windows is better than trusting to some opensource OS that any radical loon could have contributed an undetected back door to?

  31. Anonymous Coward


    Blue Ensign of death anyone?

    Mine's the lead-lined kevlar one by the way

  32. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Calm down, calm down ......

    Commentators lambasting the Windows component, which they may imply to be a weak link, would do well to re-read the paragraph ...."According to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), HMS Montrose has now entered a planned docking and refit period during which BAE Systems plc will replace her original DNA(1) gear with DNA(2), said to be "based on the system being fitted to the Royal Navy's powerful new Type 45 Destroyers". This means it will be based on fairly everyday hardware running legacy Windows OSes - people who have worked on these programmes inform us that both Win2k and XP will be in use across the fleet." ..... which informs that the refit is with DNA(2) gear based on fairly everyday hardware running legacy Windows OSes.

    The Porsche 911 Turbo is probably based upon the Love Bug Beetle but to consider it compromised by it is quite obviously absurd.

  33. TeeCee Gold badge

    Hmm, it says here....

    ....that this article was posted at 12:27 GMT. By my reckoning it's now past 2, so it's probably time to ask the $64k question.

    Is it still up?

    Oh, and @cor: I refer you to the famous list of great French military achievements which may go some way towards explaining why the MOD has taken a different route. To help I have transcribed this, verbatim, below:

  34. Alien8n


    Have to laugh at some of the jokes, but...

    Seriously, as stated the old software is hardly up to the job as it is. So a standard Windows build is probably better. But windows only really becomes a problem when you let the users have a degree of power over it. Anyone really think that they'll be installing dodgy computer games and "free" screensavers on these machines? Lock down the pc and 2K and XP become very stable. So with that in mind the only real issue becomes the hardware, which we all know is the next least reliable thing. But with standard hardware and software even that becomes less of an issue. My betting is they'll have some built in redundancy, not to mention a handful of boxes in storage just in case the inevitable happens. BSOD is not always a software fault remember :p

  35. Jeffers

    The Reason ....

    Windows comes with Minesweeper ;)

  36. Dunstan Vavasour
    Dead Vulture

    Windows Embeded Version

    We've already been round this loop in the last few weeks.

    Please could someone close to the solution let us know definitively whether:

    a) The Royal Navy are procuring a control system based on the same retail Windows version which consumers buy in PC world, then installing it on some indeterminate hardware with a bunch of third party binary only drivers, and then allowing automatic changes to software to be pushed from an outside source without any verification, or

    b) The Royal Navy are procuring a control system based on Embeded Windows, which is configured specifically for control systems, running on a carefully chosed set of hardware with rigorously verified drivers, and where any patch or update is subject to verification and approval before application.

    While it is quite diverting to post comments as if it is (a), there is every evidence that systems based on (b) are as stable and trustworthy as *nix or VXworks based ones.

    But hey, let's not allow anything to get in the way of some rather tired waggishness about Microsoft.

  37. Hugh_Pym

    Not that old one again. (@AC)

    "Surely running on Windows is better than trusting to some opensource OS that any radical loon could have contributed an undetected back door to?"

    If the source code is open you can't hide anything. If it is closed you can hide everything.

  38. Anonymous Coward


    So let's get this straight.

    The Navy is boasting about implementing operating systems that the manufacturers have been trying to replace for a loooong time?

    Mwah ah ha.

    Alternately: "Soooo Meester Bond. By now you already know that we've infected your fleet with the 'MOD-R-Lamerz' worm and we're about to use your ships to launch a full-scale nuclear assault on London..."

  39. radian
    Thumb Up

    @AC @Jeremy

    I come for the smugness, but stay for the waffle.

  40. adnim

    @AC:What's the beef?

    Open source code is open to inspection by anybody. This means that a coder's ability to insert an undetectable back door is just about impossible. Unless of course one could get every single person capable auditing the code to agree to remain silent about such a feature. If there is a person who is able to convince hundreds of thousands of people, all of whom have differing agendas, goals, ideals and reasons for living to agree to such silence then yes, there maybe a problem.

    Microsoft software however is closed and the source code tightly controlled. I, not that I am unduly paranoid, fear the use of Microsoft software anywhere, let alone in mission critical systems, especially systems capable of wiping whole cities of the face of the Earth.

    Microsoft's track record of making reliable, secure software should have at least made those responsible for making this decision raise an eyebrow in concern, if not dismiss the idea at the point of suggestion.

    As Alien8n has stated XP is now in fact very stable. It is fine on a desktop PC providing the user has some idea of what he/she is doing, is running behind a hardware forewall and is aware of common attack vectors. However, using any Microsoft software in mission critical situations is sheer lunacy.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @Dunstan Vavasour

    Like the "rigorously verified" Windows Server updates that managed to down financial trading systems last month?

    Seems to me there are always two types of people when these stories turn up, those who see the funny side of Microsoft (who have never innovated a single thing) getting involved in <ahem> mission critical applications and enjoy the rib tickling. Then there are the others, who cannot stand the humour being directed at their delicious software of choice when "everyone knows you only have to reboot once per month".

    Personally, I love these jokes all the more because they are directed at such a useless piece of shit software. And the parasites who make it.

    Keep the jokes coming, the only thing funnier is watching these twats get hot under the collar.

    Cmdr Rogering. RN MSCE.

  42. Richard
    Paris Hilton


    Is this a resurgence of the MS policy "Embrace, Extend, Extinguish"?

  43. /etc
    Gates Horns

    USS Yorktown

    C'mon, what's the problem? Windows worked on the USS Yorktown, didn't it?

    Oops! P'r'aps not.

    Seriously, I wouldn't put Windows on a railway information board:

    much less anything really critical. Someone in the MOD must've had a backhander.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    National Security

    Anyone who thinks this doesn't mean that the US government can override any command given by the captain of such a ship (by the simple expedient of turning its control systems off) is living in Cloud Cuckoo Land.

    Anyone who approved installing these systems is a moron.

  45. Pete Silver badge

    @Dunstan Vavasour

    > a bunch of third party binary only drivers,

    It's probably much, much worse than that. I would fully expect that a lot of the critical stuff is classed as restricted technology (or whatever the weasel-words de jour are) by the US govt. and are therefore not released in source to any third party, just as happened to the Chinook softs and another recent case that slips my mind (a fighter?)

    That would leave us with a fleet of floating scrap metal, completely beholden to a foreign power and without the ability to remove it or make any changes to it. We would probably have to agree to some usurious software maintenance deals for periods of time so long that the hardware would be obsolete decades before the licensing agreement ended. Further, we probably couldn't even sell off the warships when they reach end-of-life, due to the end-user agreements surrounding the software.

    So far as quality and timely fixes go, forget it. Given how dearly the US holds it's ideas of democracy, you'd expect that their electronic voting systems to be the most completely debuggered software in the history of the planet. Given that they can't even get that right, can you imagine the amount of importance they'd attach to fixing bugs in systems that are operated by another country completely? Also, forget the idea that we'd have any leverage, either economic, military or legal - they've shown that they don't consider their military to be subject to the same international laws and agreements that everyone else signs up to.

  46. Anonymous Coward

    Windows For Warships

    A ship without hulls.

    Just wait until some fuck wit plugs in a cheap Chinese USB stick into the system, this is your 14 year old hacker captain speaking from my bedroom and you are now under my command.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    @adnim: What's the beef?

    "Open source code is open to inspection by anybody. This means that a coder's ability to insert an undetectable back door is just about impossible. Unless of course one could get every single person capable auditing the code to agree to remain silent about such a feature."

    I fear you speak from somewhere behind the scrotum.

    Linux is full of obscure drivers which have never been looked at by more than one or two developers - and that aside, it is easy to write obfuscated C code that can perform entirely unexpected operations even though, on the outside, it looks innocuous.

  48. Martin Nicholls
    Gates Halo


    "France's defense system runs mainly on a Linux derivative."

    And now we know why the MoD went with windows. How do you want to surrender today?

  49. Martin Nicholls
    Gates Halo

    Sensitive Technology..

    "I would fully expect that a lot of the critical stuff is classed as restricted technology (or whatever the weasel-words de jour are) by the US gov"

    Aside from the fact nothing about windows itself is classified, and when I last saw there was talk about access to windows source code being part of the contract negotiations for this particular project - on the point of classified technology there is precedence for access to this stuff, not least as part of the JSF project.

    I do recall when all this started engineers at BaE were very unhappy at the prospect, especially considering all their experience was with UNIX systems. The problem is *UNIX* you're not going to get any better terms than from Microsoft over support, license terms, source code access nor pricing. Apple is more the same, and Linux has no real go-to backers, and worse, at least at the time - Linux systems were uninsurable with regards to business continuity.

    What you have to remember is that this stuff project has been going on for a number of years now, and that you can't just throw a copy of Ubuntu on these systems and expect to be waiting for a forum reply when xorg segfaults.

    Make all the funny comments you like but even if they started this project today I'd still call them nuts if they picked *Linux* out of the bunch - Apple won't do anything for you and Unix developers or no better. So what is it you want?

    And also, this is a British government IT project - and it's ahead of schedule and actually works.

  50. Henry Cobb
    Gates Horns

    Don't go to war with China

    Remember that Microsoft allows the Chinese to examine the source code for Windows.

    So your source is open, at least to the other side.


  51. RW
    IT Angle


    Is IE part of this special version of Windows? If so, where does that leave Microsoft's claim that IE is an essential part of Windows that cannot be removed?

    What happens when some horny sailor plugs his laptop into the shipboard network so he can look at smutty videos?

    If the design doesn't include ethernet outlets in random places, how does it prevent horny sailors from adding one on the QT?

    If MS can create a bullet-proof version of Windows for this use, why not for desktop use?

  52. Anonymous Coward

    Windows For Warships

    All your missiles are belong to us!

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Everybody Knows

    That MS software is the best thing for desk-top productivity.

    So lets keep it there where the worst that can be (and often is) lost is a day's work

  54. Anonymous Coward

    Bsod = blue sea of death

    skull and crossbones because they will wish they'd 'pirated' linux !

  55. Doug Southworth

    @ Robert Long


    Seriously, I think that...

    *sniker* might have a good...



    AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA*cough* *cough*

    Oh, wait, you seriously are stupid enough to believe what you just wrote. I thought you were joking.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    This is delicious

    OK, folks...the silver lining.

    RW's "horny Sailor" plugs in his laptop (or maybe even, if IE is really **really** an inseparable piece of Windohs, using the innate browser), downloads some pr0n from his favorite website...and the viruses and trojans that come with it. One such virus takes control of the C&C subsystem and "mistakenly" IFF's Waqui Jaqui as an incoming Exocet...and proceeds to "eliminate the threat".

  57. xjy
    Paris Hilton


    Wonder if any of these boats will find themselves trying to navigate the lights at Trafalgar Square or the Green Zone in Baghdad? Maybe would be better to fit em out with wheels...

    (Paris cos that's where they might end up too. And she looks worried about the hole thing...)

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Which will it be..............??


    Portholes or Arseholes?

  59. John Dougald McCallum


    "If MS can create a bullet-proof version of Windows for this use, why not for desktop use?"

    How much do you want to pay for it?

    Oh you obviosly don't know what will happen to said horny seaman/woman when found out but I'll bet Lewis will be able to enlighten you.Laptop at sea I for one wouldn't want to take one little enough kit space for what you have to have let alone fragile kit like that.

  60. adnim


    Yes, Windows is full of secure, reliable, proven and trustworthy code that has been vetted and audited by the most sincere, honest and altruistic of organisations. Namely Microsoft themselves.

    Where as Linux.....

    I will resist the urge to cast aspersions regarding the position from which you speak. You have made it clear. Much clearer than a Microsoft licencing agreement ever could.

  61. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge


    The American Navy tried this once and it failed miserably. Why don't you Brits have a go a debugging this garbage?

    Mine's the one with the life jacket built in.

  62. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    Open vs. Closed

    For goodness sake. It will be something like 10 years before these ships will have another major refit, so will they be stuck with WforW for all of this time? I'm sure the Type 45s are expected to have a 30 year+ lifetime.

    With Windows, the MoD are beholden to Microsoft, and have to negotiate extended support at whatever price MS want to charge (how long will Win2K have been out of support when the next refit comes)?

    At least with Linux, as a supplier, you can fork the code, and take complete ownership of the product. The length of support becomes how long you are prepared to pay people to be familiar with it, and the security becomes as good as the people you employ. If they are good, you don't even have to rely on the community for fixes. I would have to check, but I believe that provided you keep a product in-house (or should that be onboard-ship), you would not have to release any modified source.

    I suppose that one good thing is that if they are using commodity hardware, then it would be possible to drop in the latest Dell server into the rack, provided that you can get the Win2K drivers for the SATA disk and display adapters. Or maybe retrofit another OS.

  63. Adrian Midgley

    it may be "easy to write obfuscated C code that can perform entirely unexpected operations"

    although I suspect that getting it to do anything is only easy for small values of easy...

    but getting it to perform expected operations on demand is harder.

  64. Dave

    Re: What's the beef?

    There is of course some evidence of a backdoor in Windows, I remember stuff about the NSA having a set of keys. So the US could decide they'd like some easy target practice and disable or degrade a few key applications.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    the little paperclip coming to tap on your screen witjh the helpfull hunt : you forgot to arm the warhead before you fired it...

    i remeber a Startrek TNG episode .

    Picard : Mr worf , send the -some alien race- a new copy of the regulation manual . Oh , and tell them to read it this time.

  66. This post has been deleted by its author

  67. Nuno Silva


    @Anonymous Coward Posted Monday 5th January 2009 17:08 GMT

    " Linux is full of obscure drivers which have never been looked at by more than one or two developers - and that aside, it is easy to write obfuscated C code that can perform entirely unexpected operations even though, on the outside, it looks innocuous."

    You must be joking. I've seen very clean code beeing rejected for inclusion by mere formating problems or duplication of code or something similar. It's very unlikely that "obfuscated C" will be accepted. It's far cheaper to bribe some coder at MS to include some function at (almost) release time than it's to find the best coder in the world to write something that will pass Linux's "meritocracy". Remember, in Linux's world the most important thing you have is your reputation. In MS land the most important thing is the paycheck...

    I don't want to be rude, but I make your words mine:

    "I fear you speak from somewhere behind the scrotum."



  68. Anonymous Coward

    What's so special about Windows Embedded?

    Perhaps the folks who've said "Windows Embedded is different" could tell us, in detail, with examples and evidence and links to definitive sources, what they think is so special, so different, about Windows 2K/XP Embedded. (Perhaps they could also tell us where in the WIndows world they are employed?)

    Windows XP Embedded *is* basically just Windows XP, that's the point of it (unlike say Windows CE, which has little in common other than the name). Any difference between XP and XPe is largely in the commercial arrangements (price, licencing, discounts, long-term support, etc), with a few limited technical differences such as official support for network booting, and some related trickery eg componentizable OS, support for read-write files on a readonly media filesystem, etc.

    Don't take my word for that, see what Microsoft's XPe people have to say:

    Windows HomeServer was meant to be tried, tested and trustable because it was only a minor variant of mainstream Windows Server 2003. Was Windows Home Server therefore secure, reliable, and bug free? No, it was silently corrupting (and permanently destroying) user data even in pure-Microsoft setups with no third party apps, and doing so for over a year before Microsoft fixed a bug in a badly written and inadequately tested HomeServer-specific filesystem component:

    Fortunately the same can't happen to any unique bits of XP Embedded that aren't used elsewhere, right?

    There are good reasons why Windows isn't used, and won't be used, in any safety-related or safety-critical systems on aircraft. There's plenty of experience in the UK railway industry (where Windows *has* been used for functionally important systems on some trains) that says using Windows in the wrong place is bad for you - one well known problem in the industry is the frequent train delays caused by unplanned reboots of the Windows-based systems involved in certain safety interlocks on certain trains. Still, what do the aerospace and rail industries know about engineering reliable systems? (The rail industry has had its problems, and using inappropriate technology is certainly part of that).

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton's the answer

    to all of life's computing questions.

    Paris, cause....girls is soft, I touched one once

  70. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Point not missed

    And when warship.exe divides by zero and locks* the entire O/S up?

    I've been writing crappy apps on Linux (and other *NIX) system for years. From time to time, they blow up and leave little core dumps all over the place. But the system keeps on going. For apps that only die due to the occasional bad data, I've set up a watchdog to restart them and continued merrily on until budget could be found to track down the bug. This wouldn't be possible if the O/S responds to application exceptions by freezing. Nor would networking and diagnostic functions be available for recovery. Some por sod is going to have to run out on deck while under fire to press Alt-Ctrl-Delele.

    *Supposedly the outcome of the now infamous US destroyer WfW test, where the ship had to be towed back to port. That was Win NT. Supposedly a more robust system than XP designed to deal with concurrent processing, memory management and the like.

  71. Trix

    US Navy

    Despite all the references to the now 10-years-out-of-date Yorktown malarkey, the US Navy has been running on Windows for years with no problems (well, other than that of their present Commander-in-Chief).

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So if it wasnt Windows...

    And they chose Linux, would there be "Oh we just have to recompile the Kernel before we launch that missile" comments?

    How about OSX? You'd be hearing how it was "No bother at all that the big colourful 'iLaunch' package wasn't responding, I just had to do a quick boot off the OS DVD and run a permission repair. It was probably caused by 3rd party plugins anyway".

  73. Herby

    Ship (bad term) an obsolete OS

    As I seem to recall, XP is NOW at "end of life" and not being able to be shipped after a date sometime this year. So, it will be obsolete before it is in place.

    Combine that with the silly authorization license junk (now let's put this new drive in the system) and you might have someone placing a phone call to Redmond asking for the proper license key to continue operations.

    Gives new meaning to BSOD! (as I watch the Military channel!).

  74. Rhiakath Flanders

    And yet another thought....

    I wonder if one could just right-click on the missile launcher and select "Set target" and later "Fire"....

    Or, even better, if the weapon control software would say something like this during a war:

    "Your trial period is finished. Please register this product to continue using it"

  75. Rhiakath Flanders

    You forgot about this

    It surprised me to see that everyone failed to see the full length of this....

    MS Windows being so easy to crack and hack, we're seeing the next step in the beginning of SkyNet.....

    Next thing, is equip the "innocent" cleaner robot with MS Software. Wait a few days, and it'll strangely change from repeating "clean up dirt" to "clean up mankind" and grab a 40W range PPC.

    I never would have guessed SkyNet ran windows.... But It makes sense...

    Officer - "Enemy missile inbound!"

    Guy in front of computer responsible for automated defenses- "Hmm??!! (clicking his mouse)

    Officer - "Enemy missile inbound!!!! 400 yard range!"

    Guy in front of computer responsible for automated defenses - "Damn! You made me blow up a mine! There goes my high-score! Even my kids have a better score than me! Do you know what that means , private??? Have you realised what you have done???? Can you imagine how long I have tried to break that high score? You have just... " KABOOOMMMMMMMMM

  76. Mark

    @John Dougald McCallum/ re: Sensitive Technology..

    ""If MS can create a bullet-proof version of Windows for this use, why not for desktop use?"

    How much do you want to pay for it?"

    Yet earlier on we have:

    "you're not going to get any better terms than from Microsoft over support, license terms, source code access nor pricing"

    So which is it? Expensive or cheap?

    I'd go for expensive, but nobody calls Martin Nicholls to task over his bollocks.

  77. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @"Ship an obsolete OS"

    XP is only obsolete if MS say it is. In the "embedded" world, longer service and support lifetimes are a prerequisite than the IT department needs, and so XP Embedded (which is basically XP Pro) continues to be supported for quite a few more years now (MS say five years aftter the end of mainstream support, but as that's already been extended...).

  78. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Windows XP Embedded - EOL 2017

    Plenty of time to get the XP bugs sorted and the Vista follow-on into the market?

    But will El Reg still be around?

  79. Anonymous Coward


    Working as a small wheel in medical imaging and having being exposed to the forced (management decision...) transfer of mission critical software from VMS to windowsXP embedded (using only reviewed and tested drivers on fixed hardware setups), I can only say: "Good luck lads!".

    As someone further up posted, it is to my experience indeed not so much the mediocre OS which injects the X(P) factor in the stability equation but actually the coders which come bundled with such a transfer:

    Trained on appealing but completely obfuscated development tools like .net they go about writing mission critical code on layered and layered and layered software stacks that they don't understand nor feel they would need to.

    We require a new feature? Hey no problem, just write it quickly in managed C#, couple it with the managed C++ backbone and fuse the result with the legacy C-divers for the old hardware and voila...

    As our old VXworks veteran would put it: "These boys would fork five threads and a data-base for 'hello world' and not even know it."

    And with each .NET version only a few of the old bugs go and many new features and with them intrinsically more new bugs arrive.

    And the binaries get bigger and bigger and fewer wnd fewer remember the days when trusty compilers where lean and mean and tendency was to keep the code solving simple tasks as simple as possible.

    Anyway, at the end of the day we have now more feature rich apps but the entire shebang runs on state of the art hardware less snappy (and has 10x more jitter in response times) than it used to when it did run on VMS on the old DEC Alphas and has, to put it mildly, a fifth of the uptime.

    Is this really the way "mission critical" should go I wonder ...

  80. Chris Hedley Silver badge


    This is absolutely terrifying. I remember back in the day there was a market for "fault tolerant" computing where it really mattered: and this was for systems that were inherently more reliable to begin with.

    Seems now we're going down the route of "fault guaranteed".

    Who's the total and utter fuckwit that actually authorised this? Why did nobody challenge them?

  81. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    Oh my God this will bring a new meaning to BSOD - Maybe now the name should be changed no Navy Blue Screen Of Death and what will the text say - Unhandled Missle Exception at location 0efffdde.

  82. adnim


    I couldn't agree more. I learned 'C' many years ago in a Xenix environment, I loved the power and flexibility of the language, I was encouraged to write neat, tidy and efficient code. I knew what was going on.

    I have developed a few applications using VB, VB.Net and asp, some using connections to backend databases. RAD seems to be the point behind .Net programming and yes it can be very rapid, but I don't have much of an idea of what is going on behind my code at a granular level. As a result I cannot say with any conviction that any of the applications I have written with .Net are secure or reliable, nor how much redundant code in the form of functions and assemblies is compiled into my applications.

    One thing I know for sure, I feel removed from the heart of my applications using the .Net framework.

    I can't help thinking that if .Net did not exist, then although more time consuming and difficult to write, applications including web apps would be far more secure than the obfuscated swiss cheese base of todays .net and asp applications.

    Perhaps this is because I'm not a professional coder, I might be talking from behind my scrotum ;-) I tinker for knowledge, and to make it a little easier for my missus to maintain and update her photo database/website, thus my experience is limited.

  83. Mark
    Paris Hilton

    "XP is only obsolete if MS say it is."

    And MS *has* said it is obsolete.

  84. Mark
    Paris Hilton

    re: So if it wasnt Windows...

    "And they chose Linux, would there be "Oh we just have to recompile the Kernel before we launch that missile" comments?"

    Yes, exactly like they have to ask MS to do to get XP working on their Warships. The problem is that ONLY MS can do it. They can't.

    With Linux, they can ask HP/IBM/RH/... or whoever they bought the solution from to compile it or they can dump the supplier (or be dumpbed BY their supplier) and do it themselves.

    Unless XP has a hidden "Launch Missile" command the manuals don't mention...

  85. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    @Mark 15:44 "MS has said XP is obsolete"

    >>"XP is only obsolete if MS say it is."

    >And MS *has* said it is obsolete.

    Well that depends. The mainstream bit of MS, the ones that are trying to flog Vista to an unwilling market, have indeed said XP is obsolete. But then they would say that wouldn't they.

    However, elsewhere in MS, the "embedded" bit of MS have said XP lives on to 2016 or later (see various MS URLs already posted here).

    Are you trying to say we can't trust promises from the "embedded" people in MS?

  86. Mark

    and that's what "obsolete" means

    OK, maybe you'd prefer obsolescent.

    XP Embedded isn't XP. Try running Adobe Dreamweaver on it. Or Gears Of War 2.

  87. Colin Wilson

    what happened to...

    only allowing XP to continue shipping (pun?) on slow netbook equivalent hardware ?

    BSOD = Blue Sea Of Death

  88. Anonymous Coward

    "XP Embedded isn't XP" <panto><Oh Yes It Is>

    Repeat after me: Microsoft say XP Embdedded is XP Pro repackaged. Don't you trust them?

    "Try running Adobe Dreamweaver on it. Or Gears Of War 2."

    I don't have access to those right now. Do you remember the failure mode, eg the error message you got when you tried them? I'll hazard a guess that certain bits of runtime support needed by these things had been configured off of the system you were using - that's what the XP Embedded build tools are intended to do, leave out bits that the **fixed configuration** (hint) embedded systems are known not to need. You probably don't need (and probably aren't supposed to use) Dreamweaver on an HP thin client, a Tektronix logic analyser, a National Instruments PXI rack, on Windows for Warships, or whatever, so you can leave off the bits which the **fixed configuration** (hint) setup doesn't need. A little bit like "Add/Remove Windows Components" has allowed you to do in Windows Control Panel for a decade or more. Except that with Windows XPe, config changes are supposed to come from the people who supplied your system, rather than being something you or the IT folks do yourself.

    A differently configured XPe could easily have left the missing bits on. As it happens, afaik XPe currently only does DX9 [1] -if your chosen applications need trendy modern DX10, you're stuck (for now) because XPe currently only "supports" DX9 - though I see earlier Dreamweavers were quite happy with DX8. (DXanything isn't my bag though, so I may have misunderstood).

    VMS (already mentioned briefly in this discussion) had this include/exclude capability back in the 1980s, even before Windows, when the capability was called VMStailor and it allowed you to fit most of a whole OS on 20 or so MB (who remembers the VAX 725?). But back then VMS was still largely VMS even after tailoring.

    And this year, and indeed to 2015 and beyond, Windows XPe is still largely WIndows XP Pro - the differences are largely commercial and packaging, not technical. And in particular, any features, bugs, and vulnerabilities in XP Pro are likely to be features, bugs, and vulnerabilities in XPe, unless the relevant code has been "tailored off", 1980s-VMS-style.

    [1] talks about DX9 in Windows XPe . I don't know what would happen technically if you tried installing DX10 on an XPe system (after all, it's only XP Pro repackaged, right?), but it would become commercially unsupported. Still not convinced? Then download yourself a free XPe evaluation kit and try it for yourself.

    Mine's the one with the BartPE CD in the pocket. Now there's an OS that really won't run Dreamweaver (or will it?).

  89. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Umm - there's another little problem here..

    You're all just talking about Windows in an island fashion (rather appropriate as it's the Navy :-)). It gets, however, even more interesting. You see, even at MoD they're mouthing compliance with something called Network Enabled Capability (NEC), which is in a nutshell the ability to wire up forces from different nations and make them act as one electronically. Sensor-to-shooter linking is an important example of this.

    Has ANYONE ever seen any MS implementation where integration with non-Windows wasn't a problem? Or even a Windows-to-Windows setup between older and newer versions where the code appears to be designed to ram the need to upgrade repeatedly down your throat when you can least use it?

    What do you think is going to happen in an NEC context?

    "Clippy: Hi, it appears you're talking to another force, do you want help with that? Sorry, the other force has used a protocol that we haven't yet managed to embrace/screw up so we'll do everything possible to get in your way. BTW, your sensors detect a missile incoming at Mach 2, but we have just dropped shooter comms. Have a nice, albeit brief day."

  90. Froemps

    they should watch...

    more Battlestar Galactica. "Obsolete" technology can save your day.

  91. Adrian Esdaile

    Meanwhile, in a parallel universe...

    Captain (Nathan Barley, dressed in skin-tight black lycra with metallic mauve rank stripes, and bluetooth sunglasses. Think 'Torchwood' but even more gay): "Siobhan, darling, that scruffy-looking PC user barge is getting rather too close for comfort. Can we schedule a design meeting to envisage enabling the defensive iGuns? Also, could you refill my vodka & lime, my Segway needs recharging, and what-say we go to Fuscia Alert, hmmm?"

    1st Lt. Siobhan N*gogomobil (reclining on carved Balinese organically-grown renewable-sourced teak chaise-lounge): "But mon capitaine! Fuscia is so last Tuesday! Might I suggest a bold Teal with Burnt Sienna Mandelbrot-set inspired Alert? It would be so much more today, and would really get the ratings attention, really focus their working conciousness on the task of workshopping methods of appeasing the incoming cruise missiles. Er, look, aren't they a horrible shade of grey?"

    Captain: "Er, Siobhan darling, my iCaptains iWheel iThingie has just made a little 'clink-clonk' noise and put a cute little bomb icon up - is that bad?"


  92. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No sweat

    Fortunately, as the UK is now a third-rate nation with no (real) international disputes, our Navy is very unlikely to do any actual fighting. (Although admittedly even leaving harbour with Windows in charge would be frightening enough).

  93. Mark

    Regarding the title of the piece

    What do you do when Windows stops working? Frig it.


    Ah, never mind...

  94. Mike Barton


    BSOD becomes BBS (Bye Bye Sailor)

  95. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why choose Windoze for Warships?

    They use unix-based RISC systems on the RAF's fast jets, so why would they choose Windows for the Navy? Unless someone told them to, that is (as in, someone in the MoD or the RN).

    Thank Ghu I didn't join the Navy!

  96. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Doug Southworth

    Seriously, Doug, you should read a bit more history. There's no way the US let this into our warships without an option to turn it off by remote. None.

    Remember that this is the government that has a remote electronic veto over our nukes as well. America is not in the business of letting anyone else in NATO act independently; that's specifically why France left.

    So, laugh all you want, you mug, but the joke's on all of us.

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