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Microsoft Turns Down The Pentagon

February 9, 2010
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Not many people say no to the Pentagon. Especially not while they are fighting two wars, but Microsoft did. Though I am not a fan of Microsoft I have to give them credit for taking a stand, especially when Google is teaming up with the National Security Agency.

You probably won’t see this story in your newspaper any time soon, but it is big news that one of the most powerful corporations in the world said no to the world’s most powerful military. The reason it is not front page news is that the matter at hand is video games.

Today Wired.com reported that the Army wished to replace their $1,000 training computers with $300 Xbox 360s, which are made by Microsoft. Microsoft politely, I assume, said “No.” They gave three reasons behind their decision. The first two reasons were financial, but the third reason is why I am writing this post.

I would like to quote Roger Smith, Chief Technology Officer, U.S. Army Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation; who recounted his conversation with a Microsoft representative, “The third reason was around the question of, ‘do we want the Xbox 360 to be seen as having the flavor of a weapon? Do we want Mom and Dad knowing that their kid is buying the same game console as the military trains the SEALs and Rangers on?'”

Microsoft didn’t want their product associated with the military. I only hope more companies follow their lead.

10 Comments
  1. February 9, 2010 4:45 pm

    It makes you wonder though whether the military already uses Xbox but just wanted a large order discount/contract. Just a thought.

  2. Ellen N. Duell permalink
    February 9, 2010 4:47 pm

    Will wonders never cease! This it worthy of a top-billed play on Broadway in NYC! Cheers, Ellen Duell

  3. Tommy permalink
    February 9, 2010 6:37 pm

    I should have explained further that Microsoft also refused to license the development tools needed to even build training ‘games’. The Pentagon could still hire a game developer who is already using the XNA development tools, but this move by Mircosoft may scare away developers.

    The military owns a lot of gaming systems. Walter Reed is using Wii games to help with physical therapy. The Army uses a game called ‘America’s Army’ as a recruitment tool.

  4. Claude Cesard permalink
    February 10, 2010 11:43 am

    Bravo and Thanks to Microsoft!

  5. Peter permalink
    February 10, 2010 11:57 am

    The reality is that there are ALREADY games which are violent, shoot ‘em-up games which can be played on the system. Mr. Softy (Microsoft) simply doesn’t WANT parents to associate them w/ their product. THAT would be bad for biz. Self-serving if you ask me.

  6. Ted Lemon permalink
    February 10, 2010 2:08 pm

    What’s wrong with a little enlightened self-interest? We could use more of this kind of pragmatism!

  7. Audrey permalink
    February 10, 2010 4:39 pm

    Yes, the real problem might be that the games already exist which are realistic enough to train military personnel.

  8. Jim M permalink
    February 10, 2010 5:11 pm

    I’m not too unhappy about Google trying to get NSA help to shore up it’s defences. As one of their users I don’t want the Chinese equivalent of the NSA looking over my stuff either.

  9. Paul Troyano permalink
    February 10, 2010 10:14 pm

    Where do I go to thank Microsoft?

  10. Marilyn Russell permalink
    February 16, 2010 5:07 am

    I say, let each of us figure out our true values. True honorable values, and hold them tight. Represent yourself as a serious person … and proceed with your life.

    A side benefit of Microsoft’s refusal may be that it gains acclaim for its standard. So be it. But, I’ll be watching in the future.

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