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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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!

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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?

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

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