The consolidation will result in three standard configurations that enforce strict security policies for all Microsoft desktop and server software, Air Force CIO John Gilligan said in a press conference Friday.
In addition to improving security, the consolidation will save the service more than $100 million over six years, he said.
Currently, the Air Force has thousands of different software configurations, and patching them is a complicated and time-consuming process that involves a lot of manual work, Gilligan said.
"It takes months, literally, in some cases. In that intervening period, we do have instances where someone uses an automatic attack and disrupts our system. The root cause is that system hasn't been patched yet," he said. "Probably about once a week, there is some disruption."
Having standard configurations will allow the service to automatically push out patches, Gilligan said.
The Air Force is working with Microsoft to develop the configurations from benchmarks developed by the Center for Internet Security. They will be designed to meet specific Air Force needs and all Air Force personnel will be required to use them.