Computers are my copilot: Six machines that might help you get there

By , ITworld.com |  Offbeat, navigate, sci-fi

Where blue screen of death MEANS blue screen of death

Picture courtesy of Sovereign Publications; click for full size

Windows for Warships

The British Navy has been using the Submarine Command System, or SMCS, for tactical information and weapons control on their submarines for more than 20 years, over which time it was slowly updated. Most of these upgrades went by without comment beyond the small circle of IT defense contractors -- until 2002, when a proposed system revamp would leave much of SMCS running on standard x86 PC hardware running Microsoft Windows as an operating system.

The wags dubbed it "Windows for Warships," and jokes about the blue screens of death popping up in the midst of naval combat abounded. Yet the rollout was successful enough that the program has been happily expanded over the past seven years to surface vessels as well. Even The Register -- never a hotbed of love for Microsoft products gives it a tentative thumbs up, though mostly because "the preceding custom solutions were usually so terrible that a reasonably stable Windows box would actually be a serious improvement."

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