UK government to pay £5.5m for another year of Windows XP support

The end of Windows XP support has been signalled for several years but, remarkably, there are still countless organisations around the world that are still completely unprepared for the imminent deadline. In just four days’ time, Microsoft will officially terminate mainstream support for the OS, which first appeared over a decade ago in 2001.

Having had years to plan for the end of platform support, many organisations have simply left it too late to get the job done in time – and it is perhaps no surprise that governments are among those that have been dragging their heels when it comes to moving their IT infrastructures out of the XP era.

Today, it emerged that the British government has arranged terms with Microsoft to extend support for Windows XP, and to continue providing critical fixes and security updates, for a further twelve months after the April 8 2014 deadline. The cost of this extension? As Computer Weekly reports, the bill adds up to a cool £5.548m GBP (around $9.2m USD / €6.71m EUR) of taxpayers’ money.

Amusingly, one gets the sense that the government is actually quite pleased with this deal. Brokered by the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), a new office with responsibilities for procurement and purchases across the public sector, the £5.5m being spent is said to be far less than the total cost would have been had the CCS not been involved. Sarah Hurrell, CCS commercial director for IT and Telecoms, claimed that the deal could have worked out around £20m higher, if individual government departments and public sector bodies had negotiated terms independently.

Rob Wilmot, crown commercial representative for software at CCS, said: “We are delighted that this agreement will deliver projected savings in excess of £20m against standard pricing in the next 12 months… CCS has demonstrated the benefits of government working as a single customer to achieve best value for the taxpayer, while continuing to build good working relationships with our technology suppliers.”

Of course, that rather ignores the fact that, if the government had been better prepared, this additional £5.5m could have been invested in new IT infrastructure, rather than prolonging the slow death of the existing platform.

Any department or public sector organisation wishing to take advantage of the deal arranged by the CCS will be required to demonstrate that they have a “robust plan” in place for migration off of XP-generation software – including Office 2003 and Exchange 2003 – beforehand. Microsoft also emphasized the need to ensure that the extended support does not give organisations an excuse to put off their migration plans: “Agreements such as these do not remove the need to move off Windows XP as soon as possible.”

With 85% of the 800,000 PCs used by the National Health Service alone still running Windows XP, the task of migrating all government IT infrastructure away from all that ageing software (and hardware) will be immense. 

The UK government has indicated that it plans to move away from using Microsoft software in the future, with the intention of embracing more open software solutions. 

Source: Computer Weekly | image edited from an original via TravelLondon

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seriously why pay support to microsoft, they could just use xp as it is until it replace them...

its not that paying microsoft would make xp machine more secure or free of exploits

this its a waste of citizen tax money. switching to linux would be better choice at this point.

in my case i stick with xp until it dont work, and security issues its just risk management and take proactive scenario hopefully everything will be fine and the whole deadline apocalypse that microsoft and other "experts" says its just that...

i still find people using NT4 and 2k machines so its not that XP would be worse than that

UK government spending money on what it needs as usual :| bet they can all use the ipads that were bought for them free ok but not Windows 8?

Agreed, and these are the pickles that are running countries!

If I planned out my banking like governments do, I'd be bankrupt in a heart beat!

I work in a rather large council in the IT department and the simple fact it's not about time or money in most cases it's about blooming resources. In the last 3 years the IT department have done the following

Upgraded and migrated physical servers to VR
Upgraded exchange and VR'd
Completely audited and upgraded security systems, firewalls, routers, switches an the telephone system to IP.
Upgraded building infrastructure and migrated the entire datacentre and network infrastructure.
We are about 2/3rds way through windows xp to windows 7 with office 2010 and new VPN and encryption software. We also have had to develop fixes for in-house software that will not work on 7. We still have a long way to go as well. So compared to the IT budget we got for this 5.5 mill is pocket change.

Remember also because the bankers knackered the world all councils have had their budget cut.

If you think you can do a better job with the resources we have, then have at it.

Funny, people think it's so easy, should have been planned, done years ago... I mean, excuse me, but you're supporting how many users? PC and servers? Please tell me.

Government is HUGE, spread wide and maintaining... well, everybody's data. I think people should think about that before slamming any IT team for not being able to do it "on-time".

My company has 35,000 users and let me tell you it IS A NIGHTMARE. We have +15 PM,s techs, managers, war rooms, you name it.

We have over +300 bugs in the que as I left work late an hour earlier. The images are so broken we need someone to manually join and patch apps +200 times for the 200 computers there. There is no time to create an image. In the future we will have to double IT costs as this is the new way since no one knows how many GPO changes will be needed and we lost track.

Bad altogether. FYI we started this 2 years ago. We wont be finished. Paying to use XP for 1 year longer would have prevented that above problem as the customers freaked out and did a OMG UPGRADE ME NOW WE USE CREDIT CARDS etc. 5.5 million will be lost in productivity.

Is this really such a bad deal?

ditoax said,
I would like to point out that this works out at just over £8 per system as the £5.5m covers around 680,000 systems.

The projected cost to replace these systems (hardware and new Windows (8) license) is around £400m and that does not include upgrades for the medical software on the systems which will cost around another £350-400m or cover the costs of administration, deployment, etc.

Assuming that the cost of upgrading in a year's time won't have gone up (hardware tends to get cheaper over time), then they have saved a year on interest payments for borrowing £400m.

Spending £5m in order to delay having to make a payment of £400m for a year might (I don't know, but it's not impossible) be good business.

Looks like they are pretty screwed unless they decide to upgrade to Win 8. If they choose 7, by the time they get the upgrade finished, support for 7 will be ending (2020). Good luck with that.

It take time to certify that all government software (COTS or in-house) are 100% working with a new OS. And most of the time, it's not just a simple OS install, it's a custom image with GPO and modified rights and stuff locked and security concerns and testing all the software with a constant changing OS image is a pain. Lots of lost time, lots of time to buy/upgrade software, to modify/reprogram in-house apps that don't quite work with the new OS... And include with that the fact that Servers are also being upgraded, new release of MS SCCM, ....

It's a long process. And even if the process started a couple of years ago, it's still not done.

TruckWEB said,
It take time to certify that all government software (COTS or in-house) are 100% working with a new OS. And most of the time, it's not just a simple OS install, it's a custom image with GPO and modified rights and stuff locked and security concerns and testing all the software with a constant changing OS image is a pain. Lots of lost time, lots of time to buy/upgrade software, to modify/reprogram in-house apps that don't quite work with the new OS... And include with that the fact that Servers are also being upgraded, new release of MS SCCM, ....

It's a long process. And even if the process started a couple of years ago, it's still not done.

Windows 7 isn't new though! their IT staff should have been on courses for MCSA 2008 years ago. GPOs could have been tested years ago. There is just no excuse.

They have to pay money to do the upgrade no matter when they do it......they have now basically wasted 5.5m for dragging their heels.

TruckWEB said,
It take time to certify that all government software (COTS or in-house) are 100% working with a new OS. And most of the time, it's not just a simple OS install, it's a custom image with GPO and modified rights and stuff locked and security concerns and testing all the software with a constant changing OS image is a pain. Lots of lost time, lots of time to buy/upgrade software, to modify/reprogram in-house apps that don't quite work with the new OS... And include with that the fact that Servers are also being upgraded, new release of MS SCCM, ....

It's a long process. And even if the process started a couple of years ago, it's still not done.

Exactly. Given the nature of what various government entities do and the data they handle, plus the software compatibilities, training issues, generally just not screwing over users.. it's a big job to move things over.

Besides working through many issues and finding solutions, you then want to test things reasonably thoroughly so there are no giant and embarrassing showstopper problems.

glen8 said,

Windows 7 isn't new though! their IT staff should have been on courses for MCSA 2008 years ago. GPOs could have been tested years ago. There is just no excuse.

They have to pay money to do the upgrade no matter when they do it......they have now basically wasted 5.5m for dragging their heels.

Dude I am working 80 hours a week trying to save my company!!

I expect another 12 hours tomorrow. Windows 7 does not just freaking work. GPO's need to be changed. Apps break. Production is a loss. A customer is close to leaving us. We are blowing 1 million a month hiring contract temps, PM's, sys admins, paying to freaking fly people site to site to fix the fires.

We hate WINDOWS 7 AT WORK! It was perfectly fine before MS got greedy and did this to us.

My boss is getting 500 emails a day on stuff breaking, gpos not working. icons missing, clients are just going to have to be unprotected as we wont get done. As long as we tell users not to click on the internet.

Our que has over 300 bugs and show stoppers by the way just for this upgrade. I am so tired I can't think from all the comotion, yelling, and frustration we have to push untested software and images out.

Our long term costs are going way up because we need to run patches, join the domain, and manually spend a lot of time for each and every desktop now. Before under XP it joined and scripts ran automatically. We just had no time to test everything and with all our sites they will never get done.

Now it looks like we will need to double our IT staff to handle the manual tasks. So much fine when you need to do this 84 times in 48 hours or YOUR FIRED.

sinetheo said,
Windows 7 does not just freaking work.
We finished migrating some time back and works absolutely fine here. Must be doing something wrong or hiring the wrong people because you left it too late and are now in a tearing hurry.

Just think, if they had started a year earlier they would have saved 5.5m

government IT systems are a joke...like most of the public sector

glen8 said,
Just think, if they had started a year earlier they would have saved 5.5m

government IT systems are a joke...like most of the public sector

obamacare website was proof

glen8 said,
Just think, if they had started a year earlier they would have saved 5.5m

government IT systems are a joke...like most of the public sector

It's not just government, non-government entities tries to save money by cutting It costs / not proactive spending (saving money) because it just "works" as it is now. Depends on how well management understands real IT costs, or don't and then end up paying more latter.

dsbig said,

obamacare website was proof

That was several private sector companies... including Oracle and CGI... showing the world how incompetent they were.

yeah. but they aren't cutting costs down. they will have to upgrade eventually. That cost is always going to be there... but now they are paying millions more as a penalty on top of the cost of their eventual upgrade. they think they are getting away with something by being cheap up front but never paying attention to the long term cost

They may choose to switch to a different system in the future, as some are doing. This could just be a temporary stall while they figure out how much of their hardware they want to switch.

Google has scored a major win on the back of Microsoft's Windows XP support cut-off, as the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham has started a major migration project to Chromebooks and Chromeboxes ahead of the 8 April deadline.
The council was previously running 3,500 Windows XP desktops and 800 XP laptops, and is currently in the process of retiring these in favour of around 2,000 Samsung 303Cs Chromebooks and 300 Chromeboxes, mainly for meeting rooms, reception areas and libraries across the borough.

Using Chromebook's for things like reception areas and libraries makes a lot of sense as they are just dumb kiosks used for web browsing. Replacing an office workers desktop or laptop with a Chromebook isn't going to fly though!

stevan said,
They may choose to switch to a different system in the future, as some are doing. This could just be a temporary stall while they figure out how much of their hardware they want to switch.

Good luck providing the same level of management on those things.

stevan said,
They may choose to switch to a different system in the future, as some are doing. This could just be a temporary stall while they figure out how much of their hardware they want to switch.

Just IRC'd a mate of mine in IT at Barking and he says it's total BS. Chrome books are replacing non essential items such as company mobiles and cheap laptops in youth projects etc. Having worked at Barking and Dagenham as well as Waltham Forest for near on ten years, i can tell you that at the time i left, 2011, a large chunk of the systems had been upgraded to 7 any way.

MikeChipshop said,

Just IRC'd a mate of mine in IT at Barking and he says it's total BS. Chrome books are replacing non essential items such as company mobiles and cheap laptops in youth projects etc. Having worked at Barking and Dagenham as well as Waltham Forest for near on ten years, i can tell you that at the time i left, 2011, a large chunk of the systems had been upgraded to 7 any way.

Anecdotal but my local PCT has around 700 PCs (desktop and laptops) of which all are on XP.

ditoax said,
Using Chromebook's for things like reception areas and libraries makes a lot of sense as they are just dumb kiosks used for web browsing. Replacing an office workers desktop or laptop with a Chromebook isn't going to fly though!

Why not get a Surface RT for that?

Its a basic Windows but at least the IT can still manage it through GP. And not have a seperate OS that doesn't play nice together with the rest of the expensive IT infrastructure.

Shadowzz said,

Why not get a Surface RT for that?

Its a basic Windows but at least the IT can still manage it through GP. And not have a seperate OS that doesn't play nice together with the rest of the expensive IT infrastructure.

A Surface would be a great idea too!

They should have been planning a upgrade years ago - so dont give us that rubbish about how we dont know how governments and councils work

nitroxhotshot said,
They should have been planning a upgrade years ago - so dont give us that rubbish about how we dont know how governments and councils work

If you knew how they worked then you'd know that a large quantity of systems have been upgraded, many are being upgraded and a hell of a lot of the software that's used on these systems is also being upgraded as we speak. You'd also know that this has been happening since Vista.

you can't just upgrade 100% of the systems overnight. That would lead to a collapse in industry costing billions. £5m is piss in the pot at the end of the day. If that's what it takes to get the job done smoothly over a number of years, then so be it.

I worked with a governmental migration project 2~ years ago where 60.000 Windows XP systems got upgraded to 7.

Yeah it took 2 months of migrating and half a year of on site support. But they got through it and are now spending less money on support :) on a monthly basis.

Supporting ancient stuff is very, very expensive on a monthly basis. Pretty sure that them staying on XP the last 5 years is more expensive then the migration project would've been.

How does it not save money when you don't have to fork out millions every year to Microsoft for extending support?

sinetheo said,
What can 7 do that XP can not? How does it save money? Can secretaries type faster?

You havent used XP have you?
Compared to 7 there's quite a bit of stability issues.

But that isnt the most expensive part, the most expensive part is the hardware it runs on. Which usually is up to 10 years old, which is expensive as hell to maintain.

Shadowzz said,

You havent used XP have you?
Compared to 7 there's quite a bit of stability issues.

But that isnt the most expensive part, the most expensive part is the hardware it runs on. Which usually is up to 10 years old, which is expensive as hell to maintain.

Strange, a few years ago I was using XP as a server and would stay up for a month at a time until I did the windows updates.

MikeChipshop said,

If you knew how they worked then you'd know that a large quantity of systems have been upgraded, many are being upgraded and a hell of a lot of the software that's used on these systems is also being upgraded as we speak. You'd also know that this has been happening since Vista.

you can't just upgrade 100% of the systems overnight. That would lead to a collapse in industry costing billions. £5m is piss in the pot at the end of the day. If that's what it takes to get the job done smoothly over a number of years, then so be it.

State the obvious - but there is still no excuse that the upgrading should have started a year or 2 ago - MS announced that they were stopping support for XP years ago... But it's good for us contractors as it means more easy money!

warwagon said,

Strange, a few years ago I was using XP as a server and would stay up for a month at a time until I did the windows updates.


Yeah that totally makes XP just as stable as Win7.

Not going to get into the fact that they should have upgraded already as that is pretty obvious.

I would like to point out that this works out at just over £8 per system as the £5.5m covers around 680,000 systems.

The projected cost to replace these systems (hardware and new Windows (8) license) is around £400m and that does not include upgrades for the medical software on the systems which will cost around another £350-400m or cover the costs of administration, deployment, etc.

And now its 405,5million in total costs. Next year 411 million.

They could've slowly started an upgrade process 5 years ago
Less than 100million a year is much more bearable than 400+million at once.

ditoax said,
and that does not include upgrades for the medical software on the systems which will cost around another £350-400m or cover the costs of administration, deployment, etc.

Which medical software is this? I was under the impression that NHS trusts are fairly independent, though I guess many might take advantage of this extended support. 'Government' probably means a lot more than hospitals but it's a very vague term.

The Trust I work for has an upgrade plan for moving to Windows 7 that has been ongoing, in any case. It is not a trivial task by any means.

$300,000 MRI scanners that use IE 6 to email scanning images to patients. Medical database apps that use anti piracy thumbdrives so they can't run in a VM or in XP mode. FDA certification that takes 3 - 5 years that the hospital has to pay for THEMSELVES. The same apps need to be recertified at every single site etc.

When you purchased those $300,000 MRI's just 2 years ago and ask for an upgrade the cost accountants go nuts saying I JUST GAVE YOU 3 MILLION! Hell no! You can have your Windows 7 in 2022 when it depreciates

well done - and the government can even make it sound like with that deal they saved some money instead of having to may 20m

They should of spent the money upgrading their systems - The UK government is awful, they really do piss tax payers money against the wall, or give it to other countries, and not help our own struggling citizens.

The XP EOL was announced years ago. Even, postponed a couple times.

The "not enough time" at this point is unacceptable.

So, it will cost USD 9 million to extend Windows XP support, plus the millions to upgrade, while it could had been only the millions to upgrade in time, beucase they one day will have to pay for it anyway.

How many hospitals or schools you can build with USD 9 million in emerging countries?

Cheers.

You're forgetting the cost of upgrading to a newer version of Windows, plus maintaining compatibility with legacy government-type software, and the cost of migration. In the end, it most likely would have cost WAY more.

How many PCs are involved?
From data given, it includes ~700,000 machines in the NHS alone. So less than £10 per PC, and possibly a lot less.

The NHS is done under a different organisation - their in process of windows 7 deployment as we speak - even they are ahead of the government, but still late to the game.

No its not. Its because of the NHS still having 800,000 machines still on XP. Do you think they are going to have all them migrated in a year. Another easy 5.5Mil for Microsoft Next year.

MikeChipshop said,
All i see in these comments is a lot of people who don;t understand how governments and councils work.

I think people understand that they will do whatever it takes to not do the work required to upgrade. We expect this of governments but that doesn't mean that it should be acceptable behaviour.

So as a British tax payer these updates are being paid for by me, I don't need them but if I did can I get access to them?

I presume open software solutions means no guarantee security as good as microsoft but able to save hassle and cost of migrating to new OS. It will avoid the need of changing the OS just because it no longer be supported.

Master of Earth said,
I presume open software solutions means no guarantee security as good as microsoft but able to save hassle and cost of migrating to new OS. It will avoid the need of changing the OS just because it no longer be supported.

Open solutions still needs support, just because it's open does not mean you have people supporting it. You can always pay someone else to support it but that's equal or more to the cost you get from a corporation like MS.

How can you be so freaking sure that it will equal or more expensive than getting support from microsoft? As far as open software solutions, that's the alternative way to dramatically cut down the overall cost and hire security experts to constantly look after the security system which's probably more flexible choice for the government.

Master of Earth said,
I presume open software solutions means no guarantee security as good as microsoft but able to save hassle and cost of migrating to new OS. It will avoid the need of changing the OS just because it no longer be supported.


open just means lower initial license cost (if any), but the vast majority of cost is support and training, license cost is nothing compared

Master of Earth said,
I presume open software solutions means no guarantee security as good as microsoft but able to save hassle and cost of migrating to new OS. It will avoid the need of changing the OS just because it no longer be supported.

It all depends on the OS source software in question, and what type of support is behind it. Example, Apache, an open source web server is used to power 60% of web pages on the internet.

Another factor to not switching to open source is the evaluation of cost re-training users on new interface / work flows. The cost to have in house and / or paid support that meets the legal requirements and service level, and support.

stevember said,
If they announced 2 years ago they upgrade all the tax payer would gone mad.

It depends! A phased/staged upgrade process over a number of years would have been more acceptable to the UK tax payer than a single one-off upgrade of everything at once!

GreatMarkO said,

It depends! A phased/staged upgrade process over a number of years would have been more acceptable to the UK tax payer than a single one-off upgrade of everything at once!

I agree.

Until some FOI by media ask 'How much was spent on upgrading windows computers over passed two years?'.

Then headline 'Goveernment spends x on upgrading working computers that 35% of the country still use fine'.

It's all in spin. Media and Government.

JonnyLH said,
They spent 5.5million to retain old IT systems? Is it April 1st again?

It would cost considerably more than 5.5 million to upgrade all the existing systems to Windows 7 or 8. Many of them wouldn't even run the newer versions, and much software would be incompatible.

Many of those machines are not internet connected, so doesn't really matter too much anyway.

FloatingFatMan said,

It would cost considerably more than 5.5 million to upgrade all the existing systems to Windows 7 or 8. Many of them wouldn't even run the newer versions, and much software would be incompatible.

Many of those machines are not internet connected, so doesn't really matter too much anyway.

If anything Windows 7 runs better than XP on lower spec machines.

More than 5.5 mil? They need better PM's. End of the day, the day they have to upgrade is going to be someday and it's better to use that 5.5mil and upgrade now than re-invest it again.

FloatingFatMan said,

It would cost considerably more than 5.5 million to upgrade all the existing systems to Windows 7 or 8. Many of them wouldn't even run the newer versions, and much software would be incompatible.

Many of those machines are not internet connected, so doesn't really matter too much anyway.

So you want to say that it will cost less after that 1 year? It's gonna be 5.5mln + new OS next year so..

FloatingFatMan said,

It would cost considerably more than 5.5 million to upgrade all the existing systems to Windows 7 or 8.

Not if they'd starting a "rolling" upgrade program several years back!

Cost to upgrade X number of machines to Win 7/8 previously = £Y
Cost to upgrade X number machines to Win 7/8 now = £Y + £5.5 million!!!

The simple fact is, they should have upgraded their infrastructure years back! Now, essentially they have been landed with a £5.5 million a year "penalty" until they do!

...and its us UK tax payers that are footing this bill!!

Agreed. People make excuses for these companies, but now it will cost the, 5.5 million MORE to upgrade than if they just went ahead and upgraded. They WILL have to upgrade eventually.

JonnyLH said,

If anything Windows 7 runs better than XP on lower spec machines.

More than 5.5 mil? They need better PM's. End of the day, the day they have to upgrade is going to be someday and it's better to use that 5.5mil and upgrade now than re-invest it again.

Depends if there low end on the system requirements (for XP), it will run worse or slower. If they were machine that came out closer to vista's launch, Windows 7 should run ok. Every OS after 7 either matched the previous system requirements or lowered them.

JonnyLH said,
They spent 5.5million to retain old IT systems? Is it April 1st again?

Like someone else said, will cost more to upgrade the current systems. And they are paying for support so if they have issues, they can get them fixed/patched. Otherwise, they may risk data being stolen and other issues that can/will cost them much more.

wotsit said,
It does when they have to pay £5.5m again next year... and the year after that...

Haha, yeah. How many years of this will be take before they realise that it's cheaper to upgrade their systems overall. If they were smart, they would have requirements of their software to not be tied to a specific Windows version so future upgrades would be much less painful.

JonnyLH said,

If anything Windows 7 runs better than XP on lower spec machines.

More than 5.5 mil? They need better PM's. End of the day, the day they have to upgrade is going to be someday and it's better to use that 5.5mil and upgrade now than re-invest it again.

Really? So I can just walk around and image XP machines at work to Windows7 and they magically will just work with little cost?