The British Royal Navy has adopted a
specialized version of Microsoft Windows 2000 ("Windows for
Warships") for its new Type 45 destroyers. This is a big step forward, as
many British warships are using computers, and operating systems, a decade or
two old, and much less powerful than current PCs. While Windows has long been
criticized for its unreliability, that is not the case with Windows 2000, and
it's successors (XP and Vista). All three operating systems are widely used in
commercial operations (including manufacturing plants, labs and commercial
ships). The Royal Navy has already installed similar systems in other ships and
submarines. The major expense in using "Warships for Windows" is writing the
software that will connect the networked PCs to ship sensors and
communications. The navy has found large flat displays excellent ways to view
sensor data, and information in general.
As in the U.S. Navy, the sailors took the lead
here, bringing their own PCs, usually laptops, aboard soon after these systems
became available. Sailors often used their own computers to automate some of
their work. In some cases, they were allowed to rig their PCs into some ship
systems. It eventually became pretty obvious that PCs were the way to go.
Again, the commercial shipping industry had already created a market for PCs
customized for use at sea, and for dealing with typical shipboard operations.