THE UK METROPOLITAN POLICE has confirmed it will be seeking an extended support deal with Microsoft, after it was revealed that it is still running a staggering 35,000-plus machines powered by Windows XP almost 13 months after the operating system was degraded to end of life.
A Met Police spokesperson told The INQUIRER: "The MPS has an active upgrade programme to move users onto the latest released Windows 8.1. operating system.
"However, since Windows XP support will still be required the MPS has requested a direct option with Microsoft to continue a Custom Support Agreement for Windows XP for the next 12 months. This is currently being negotiated directly with Microsoft."
The statement comes in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by news site Motherboard which revealed the figure, and included an official statement reading: "We have currently got 35,640 desktop and laptop computers running Windows XP across all departments within the Metropolitan Police."
By way of explanation, the force added: "This is because many systems are shared and do not necessarily belong to an individual. Metropolitan Police Service colleagues are able to hot desk between buildings."
In short, despite the sensitive information on these machines that could now be extremely vulnerable owing to withdrawal of security updates for XP, no single department is willing to take responsibility for upgrading or replacing the machines. It also seems that departments are unwilling or unable to cooperate on the matter.
Windows XP is still more popular than the current Windows 8 in worldwide figures, commanding 16.94 percent of the market in March, according to figures from Net Applications.
One notable hold out on upgrading is the troubled Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan. After being nearly paralysed by an earthquake in 2011, the remaining reactors were found to still be running on Windows XP, causing outrage among the authorities in the usually cutting-edge country.
Back in Blighty, the Met has not been the only lackadaisical public service. The government paid Microsoft £5.5m at the end of XP's life for a year of extra protection, but it transpired in October that large swathes of the NHS would not meet this deadline either, which expires in two days.
Microsoft has made no secret of the fact that it plans to charge an arm and a leg for future support, far in excess of the £5.5m the government paid last year. Already, the company has confirmed it will be charging $600 per machine for refuseniks of Windows Server 2003 which comes to the end of its own lifecycle in July.
The INQUIRER is gathering more information about where the various civil departments are at now, whether the NHS has reached an agreement or whether more tax money is about to change hands. µ
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