Government signs £5m deal with Microsoft to extend Windows XP support for a year

Microsoft ends support for the venerable operating system on April 8

The decision to stop offering support and security updates for Windows XP may be good news for Microsoft executives tired of their ‘zombie operating system’ but it’s proving an expensive decision for big institutions that aren’t ready to move on.

Among these institutions is the UK government, who has signed a £5.548 million deal with Microsoft in order to secure a year’s worth of extra support for Windows XP, Office 2004 and Exchange 2003.

The deal was negotiated by the new Crown Commercial Service (CCS) and will cover the use of XP by all of central and local government as well as the NHS and schools.

Rob Wilmot from the CCS said that by combining demand across multiple departments the government had saved “in excess of £20 million against standard pricing in the next 12 month”.

Estimates by Centralis suggest that the cost of securing custom support for a single machine for 12 months is roughly £120, with this price-tag doubling every successive year.

Speaking to tech news site The Register about the deal, a Microsoft representative said that “agreements such as these do not remove the need to move off Windows XP as soon as possible.”

Organizations in both the public and private sector who have signed up to custom support detals must demonstrate to Microsoft that they have a plan to migrate from XP to a more recent operating system.

Estimates suggest that nearly a third of the world’s computers are still running Windows XP - all of which will become much easier targets for hackers once Microsoft stops releasing security updates automatically.

Hackers will be able to look at fixes to security flaws issued for Windows 7 and then simply check if these flaws also exist on Windows XP as the two operating systems share much of the same software architecture.

Just a single unsupported XP machine hooked up to government servers could provide a way in for a resourceful hacker, meaning that although this £5m agreement seems pricey, it's an absolutle necessary to keep the country's data secure.

Read more: RIP Windows XP: the 'zombie' operating system that came to haunt Microsoft
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