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IRS reportedly paying Microsoft millions for Windows XP support

Windows XP info

Looks like the UK government isn't the only public authority ready to reach for its checkbook over extended Windows XP support. Engadget reports that across the Atlantic, the IRS is preparing to fork over a large sum of cash to Microsoft for support for the ageing OS, which was put out to pasture on April 8.

The site says Uncle Sam will hand over "millions of dollars" to keep legacy IT systems up and running after the cut-off date. Half the IRS's systems currently run XP, though the plan is to get everything moved over to the newer Windows 7, supported until 2020, by the end of the year.

Source: Engadget

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Reader comments

IRS reportedly paying Microsoft millions for Windows XP support

172 Comments

Seems weird they'd invest the money to support an old OS, rather than put that money into transferring to a new OS.. But hey, I don't run a business, or work for the Government. So blurgh.

Well no... Then they'd have to train everyone to use metro (no point in the corporate world). W7 is still the best OS in terms of flawless user experience. W8 is two OS's smashed together... It's fine once you get used to it, but when we're talking about thousands of people at once, so it's more efficient in time & money to use the system that works as expected and without a pointless touch-focused interface that will never be used.

That option is only recently available. Previously people would be forced into a pointless interface (for the corporate world) before dropping into desktop mode. Businesses only require desktop mode and the standard start-menu - oh wait, that's Windows 7 without all the hassle of disabling things in Windows 8.

It's stupid considering Win 8's desktop mode and performace are better than Win7 and if your old software works on 7 it would probably work on 8 too

They KNEW IT!!! All of the world knew it that the Windows XP will be unsupported this year, why they didn't started to plan this before?? Will be a lot of cheap!

Not only that, but this was the already exteded shut off date for XP; so they knew it for many years and yet still they have failed and are now wasting taxpayers money for nothing.

 

Right. They could've got on board for $39.99 per install back when W8 was first released. $14.99 if they were using the purchase date trick everyone else was using.

They don't "pay" like you or I. The government has a large contract. Windows 7 and 8 have been available since release at no extra cost besides their annual fee for the contract.

Wouldn't upgrading software also mean upgrading hardware? From XP to 7/8? It must cost more than the support money.

Depends how old the hardware is. I have installed windows 8 on some old XP hardware and it ran well. The problem is always getting drivers for some of the hardware.

Lol try doing that on thousands of government registered machines and see if MS doesn't notice. They would have volume licensing anyway

Totally agree. It is ludicrous that they are that inept. . Change you can believe in! Except that change comes 8 months late and costs tax payers more money...

What do you expect from a government that won't help their unemployed and when they do they always break for a week to two week recess come back, argue it, break again and again while people go hungry and starve. But hey, we can send 1 billion to the Ukraine and spend money on this stuff... but let people die.... America. #AWESOME

Maybe they assumed that Microsoft would act like the Obama administration with the Obamacare deadline.  Just keep pushing it back...

The transition will have to be done sooner or later. I don't see how it's cheaper to postpone the transition AND pay Microsoft for extra support

Its not hard to figure out they should have done this a long time ago, but I know several Dr. Gov IT Managers and here's how it plays out: Cut off date approaches, plans are made to migrate but not until the last minute "to save money". Deadline for starting migration efforts arrives and things get started. Congress threatens everyone's budget, so funds intended for migration are siphoned off for contingency fu do g and 'Pet' Projects. Migration effort timetable slips because of the usual bad planning and loss of funds to other purposes. US Tax deadline approaches, even the IRS isn't stupid enough to migrate during tax season (hint, it was supposed to happen last fall). Migration effort halted so as not to interfere with processing returns. Plan is to start it up right after Tax Day, but the moment it is put on hold the money starts to be siphoned away again. Management realizes that they have diverted so much money they can't start up migration again this fiscal year, but extended support is "Only" a couple of million. Emergency contract for extended support is paid for. Plans are made to re-start effort to migrate to an already aging OS a generation behind the current one. In six years, repeat.

Transitition does cost but they will spend even more money waiting to upgrade. It's a bad business move and bad gov't, IMO.

I'm pretty sure it cost more money to keep supporting old software that probably doesn't even meet all their needs anymore. Creating new software might cost right now but will save money in the long run. Eventually they will need to update their software anyways. So, putting those million into new software now instead of sinking more expenses into supporting outdated software makes sense.

My thoughts exactly. Why not only bear the one cost of transitioning to W7 or W8 instead of paying for extended support and then paying to transition. Its not like they didn't know it was coming. Oh wait its because they are spending other people's money so the don't care!

Precisely. There is no motivation for these people to do anything correctly or efficiently. There is no way to fire them and there is no way for them to go out of business.

HAHAHA so all governments are corrupt! If US are corrupt and tax hungry, imagine here in Brazil where our IRS drills off every cent in everything, from cars and smartphones to salaries! Think they use Windows 98, there are businesses here that still use MS DOS!

I don't understand why they are moving to W7, why not move to W8, which will be supported longer, cheaper in the long run

Honestly windows 7 might be the logical choice for most organizations. The way windows 8 has been evolving, its going to end up looking more like 7 anyways, with the reintroduced start menu and all.

There is a desktop on win 8, so the logical choice should be 8, otherwise be in the same predicament in half a decade or so

Wouldn't that mean windows 8 makes more sense? They would get longer support with windows 8. If it will look more like window 7, why not go with the newer OS that is more optimized and has some nice newer features like the new file explorer, iso support, etc?

Actually, the stability, performance, heightened security and better resource management makes a huge difference for the cubicle workers... especially seeing how Windows 8 has effectively provided a workspaces-style method of task switching that 7 can't compare to.

Did you really give it a fair chance and used it for a while to get used to the new UI features?

Yes, as I have no choice. I was expecting taking some time to get used to it, but after 3 weeks I just don't see the benefit. I am not one to shy away from new versions of software. I hated the XP UI when it first came out (looked like they consulted with Fisher-Price designers), but at least the system was useable. With WS12 after 3 weeks I still hate the UI and loathe every time I have to jump on one to configure something. Example: in WS08 R2 I can get to the command prompt in one click and typing cmd enter. On WS12 it takes 2 clicks, type cmd enter, then 1 more click. So, I ask anyone in the world: how is this better?

 

The last thing a business needs is custom software running on an evolving OS. W8 just isn't mature enough to deploy in a large scale environment that wants NO surprises.

The UI is evolving. The under the hood stuff is very close to windows 7 and is very mature and stable.  I haven't had a single desktop app have issues with it.

Because Windows 8 isn't proven yet, look at any business and tell me they run the latest and greatest OS!!

Well, W7 still supports most legacy peripherals(printers, modems....) on the other hand W8 lacks support for most of them, so most businesses will choose W7 because they can keep most peripherals.

Don't know who has you so wrongly informed, but W8 supports those peripherals as well. Ive personally gotten everything from old webcams, to age old Intel 82845gs to 19yo plotters to work with W8.

In every case I've seen where someone said something doesn't work, they just don't know how to disable driver signing to make their old junk work.

Well, if we're talking about 20 computers then you're right, but if we're talking about hundreds or even worse thousands, or talking about domains, then I'll just say you're wrong, there is just too much hassle and too much problems that eventually will appear.
Also most of them don't have 64bit support.

I think it's more a factor of it taking time. Ie they are transitioning but not ready yet to roll it out fully. So they still need XP in the mean time. Why they didn't start earlier? Companies are always slow with IT upgrades.

It will require the purchase of new hardware. Anything over 1million dollars will need federal approval from another financial oversight agency. Then they need to test any and all non-COTS apps and apps specific to IRS against the new version of Windows. Some dependencies with backend systems would need to be checked as well. Such as they may running a version of xxx that was written and compatible only with XP, now they would need to either upgrade that or do an analysis to procure a more scalable and supportable solution. There's definitely a domino effect and since most governments don't plan early, they are always running late. I see this all the time. Even some homegrown enterprise applications that have direct dependencies to specific versions of Office. It's crazy. But then that's why I'm in IT\IS.

You're wrong there too. Win 8.1 takes less HW requirements than 7 and comes in 32 bit flavor too. More logical to go to 8.

Meanwhile, MacOS has just orphaned the four year old iteration. We use MacOS at work as our point-of-sale is Mac-based, and it's frustrating that we have to replace everything not yet on a Core2Duo. That's a cost to my business. Thanks, Apple. *sigh* I much prefer how long Microsoft supports iterations of their OS.

Apple is known for this. Why would you use Apple products for a business? Microsoft always tries to maintain support and you can at least purchase support if it comes to that.

the main reason would be compatiblity of their programs with the new os. so thats why they want to continute with xp for some more time while they make programs for new system

I mentioned it in the thread, but I think the transition costs more because upgrading from XP to Win7/8.1 may not happen without updated hardware, which on such a scale would be expensive. Also rewriting their internal software to match the updated systems too must be another task. I hear people still use xp because they use Tally on it, don't need better software. I can't be certain but these could be the reasons

Its hard for me to believe the profit of keeping an ageing OS, rather than using your resources to upgrade into a newer one. I mean, why?

What cost less? Upgrading or keeping the same system in place. Don't forget that training for the staff is not included with the OS upgrade.

I understand this, but they'll have to upgrade some day, so why not upgrade now and save the costs of keeping an old system?

Yeah ur right it may increase your variable costs training ppl the new office 13 but one day eventually they have to get their hands on the Windows 8.1 os anyhow when they will find limitations of new security things to be done.

Correct. I don't know MSFT plans. But we can assume XP is no longer supported for the public consumer. But for Government and Corporations there is probably a plan for a smooth transition. This probably was thought out by MSFT and the said entities. Perhaps support for XP will remain exclusively for such entities for years to come.

Government agencies are incompetent and dysfunctional. Do not try to apply the principles of logic and business justifications.

Because probably there's less hassle transitioning to W7 than to W8. After all, all that W8 brings new has to be deactivated for enterprise use. So...meh, better just stick to W7. At least it has the start button while W8 is still awaiting the update for its return.

Probably because they already started the transition to Win7 years ago, and are just completing the upgrade.

Omg this must be a joke. For real, man. C'mon. Windows 8 is way better than XP. What? Having problems with the start menu...........
Also, Bing IS better than Google. Google has no design, doesn't work with Cortana, doesn't give more info and options, etc. There has been a study in which people said Google results were Bing and Bing results were Google and they chose Google which was Bing. Don't be biased for the branding. WTF.

Um idk why I come back >< but I wanna argue a bit. Lol. And I'm not trying to say you're wrong, I just wanted to say something.

Google and bing. Bing actually started by using Google as their search engine. They just tailored it. Bing wouldnt be here without google's example. Microsoft actually admitted that they used and tailored Google a bit, before bing became it's own thing.
Um remember that "take the bing challenge" ad? A professor actually didn't buy what they claimed, so he made another, even bigger study. It showed that the ad challenge was actually skewing numbers. And the ad creators didn't know what to say about that.. So a bit of lying.

As for better... I think it depends on the person really. I took the bing challenge. At first I hated using bing... I ended up liking it in the end. It was hard to go back to Google, but I made it. I actually do prefer Google, still. Because after them knowing so much about me, they know exactly what porn I'm looking for (haha little joke but I hope you get my point there).

As for design. I will admit that bing has the most f****ng sexiest design style, for a search engine, ever. It is nice to use. But the design doesn't make it work better. It is just aesthetics.

Um cortana.. Well seeing as cortana was just finished/created, we can't yell at Google for not playing nice with it. That is more microsoft's fault, I would say.

And for Google not giving options.. What do you mean by that. I see billions of options on Google. I can choose anything I want. Usually, I find every thing i need in the first 4 pages. Did you mean settings? Cause those have gotten harder to access, but they are still there. Working well.

Oh and the study you mentioned, I read that. Yeah that was pure biased choosing. The people didnt even consider reading things... Which was bad. But I personally have tried comparing searches, by myself. I like to think of myself as an open minded person because it helps me make decisions as impartially possible. I don't think I was biased, but I did prefer what Google brought to me vs what bing brought to me. Bing has a social site pane.. Which means they consider what people say on sites like Facebook, twitter, and tumblr. Those get a small priority in searches for bing, in other words. I just don't care for those. That's my only dislike about bing. Lol.

Wow I wrote a lot, sorry for that. >< let's stay civilized though. I'm ready to listen :)

I totally understand. For options, I mean like how you have all these things like Facebook asking, getting rewards for search, using Cortana, showing more info, related searches, the settings, etc. And yes, Google sometimes does give better results. I honestly choose to use ecosia.org as my default search engine because it combines Bing and Yahoo results and makes it optional for Google. The thing is, is that whenever you search, they plant a tree, which saves the world. :D

I can't reply to you >< but I get it now, WinOmg. Um I like the idea of ecosia. Thanks for that! I'll start using it!

It was apparently going to cost them 35 times as much as they have paid for the extended support. My argument would be that they are going to have to pay this money eventually as hardware becomes end of life and unfit for use.

Companies and businesses have known about MS stopping support for XP for years, why did they not spend that time upgrading rather than what's happening now?

A lot of young people must be on this site. Anyone older than 35 knows that government agencies suck, waste money, and ruin anything that they come in contact with.

But eventually govt will suffer a big loss paying millions to microsoft. Then 3-4 years later when Windows 9 will be in action these ppl whine. Now for that microsoft can fill the amount in the blank check offered by the government. This kind of money will help them overcome some of their patent problems and will let them buy more companies.

The IRS is not a Company or a Business...its a Government entity, which needs funding for huge transitions like this...from Congress...now you know why they're still running XP.

They have all their system setup done on XP version and dont want to upgrade themselves as it meets their basic requirements.

They need to let it go and throw it away. XP's security sucked long before it became unsupported, it's resource efficiency is terrible, it's performance is heavily bottlenecked by it's piss poor memory cap, it handles 64bit architecture horribly, and if their software only runs on XP there's a high likelihood their software is horrible too.

Just a new generation of the DVD epidemic...people want to stick to their VHS(Windows XP) even when a format superior in every way exists in DVD(Windows 8.1).

My guess it that it is not only OS, but other software compatibility, old hardware, also education of the employees. But I do believe most are familiar with w7 or W8 by now.

The IRS is not a company. They don't produce anything. They are a government agency that confiscates money from US citizens.

Oh come on, no government entity is perfect. Why? Because the people that constitute them and the people they serve aren't perfect. The IRS may be guilty of less-than-ethical business practices, but are we really just going to conveniently ignore these same "US citizens" you refer to who routinely try to embezzle THAT SAME TAXPAYER MONEY by lying on their tax forms? Are you one of those people? I certainly hope not.

I would be thrilled if we could classify the IRS as imperfect. They are incompetent (can't migrate from Windows XP given 9 years) and potentially oppressing freedom (Lois Lerner et al). These should not be taken lightly and we absolutely have the right to criticize them.

Incompetence, perhaps. There are a whole lot of variables to consider (mainly recession), but considering MS has already advanced three (or four if counting 8 and 8.1) iterations of Windows since XP I'm inclined to believe that some prior arrangement could have been made to transition to a newer OS before the deadline. That said, even I work for a company that still runs XP on some of its machines. As for the second point, well, that's still under investigation so I won't comment on that.

The majority of it lives in China. And that is ... well .. sealed from the rest of the world. So they don't care.

 

Most normal consumers are using already or will be using Windows 7/W8.1. It's just that governments are retarded and will finally adopt Windows 7/8.1/Server 2008 R2/Server 2012 only after a year.

I get surprised when I see in large companies computers running win XP. I work (as security) in pretty big company and I think all of the PCs are still running XP. Asked one of the workers why aren't they moving to win7 "it's easier to work on XP" he said. And I read somewhere that 95% of all ATM machines are also on XP. MS is getting big money from them also I guess

Here's a thing to notice. Ever watch the local news. In some cases they'll show the desktop of the reporter or while visiting a local business. Most of the time they'll be running XP. You can always tell, with those over saturated cartoony colors.

It's not that people want simplicity, it's that people don't want to endure change, especially when that change is to the backbone of company/agency's entire network of systems. You'd be mistaken to think doing anything on XP in 2014 is simple. It's a hassle, and whatever amount of cash the IRS is giving MS for custom support is going to be wasted money in the long run. Sadly I'm sure will see the same thing with businesses and agencies once Windows 7 reaches its EOL.

This is BS. But win for MS I think. Fuck IRS and our Gov BS. They need to stop throwing money away. And then keep trying to get more money from poor bastards working there asses off to feed they're families. Life would be easier if currency just started from the beginning and all debts disappeared

"You're" a dork. And annoying. Congrats, everyone hates you. Which is why your on here... Dedicating your time to being a personal spell-check asshole. I know how to spell. But unless im writing a letter to the president... IDGAF. Get a life

I was offended. In a single fragment, you used there and they're and in place of their. That's only three glaring and ugly errors. You can do better than that. For example, you used the correct plural possessive form of "ass". Why not screw that up too? I might suggest ass's next time.

I run a business that has 6 XP computers in the sales department, I will have to pay around 7000 dollars to migrate to a new sales software that has been running for 10 years, screw it, I just turned auto update off and upgraded my Norton 360 on all of them.

Good luck with that strategy. Perhaps you should consider having an IT budget. Getting behind in IT usually means competitors that stay current will have an advantage over you.

With Windows 7, you at the very least have Windows XP mode. Any partially qualified IT associate would be able to help you migrate to a newer, more secure OS on six PCs for less than $7000.

What software costs that much money? That's ridiculous. I can understand programming or video editing software being expensive, but not sales.

No, but I do have editing software that is more powerful than anything for sales. I think in general, that should determine the price. Which for what I have altogether is worth about a grand. So I can understand him having to replace copies of that for so much.

Can't you simply use the same software you've always been using and only update the OS? Pretty much all software that worked on WinXP also work on Win8. They don't officially say so on their website if it's an old software because they don't want to waste their time testing their old software, but it still works.

Updating is not only important for the safety of your system but also but the company's image. I used to work for a big company where people were meeting clients which were millionaire and we still had huge laptops with WinXP on it, we looked to ridiculous!

My tax dollars at work. What's even more disturbing is that trillions of dollars are being processed through a discontinued OS. I get that it's not easy to migrate an organization that size, but it just doesn't seem like people are taking this seriously. Like MS said the world of today's security threats are way more advanced then when XP first arrived. It seems foolish not to have a healthy paranoia about cyber threats when you're say managing the revenue of an entire country. I'm just waiting for the news of the first big security compromise from these laggard public organizations to be the real wake up call.

It is not that hard to migrate. If done right, the transition is painless. Now, it will not be done right because of the rush. The company I work for migrates over 100,000 employees to Vista from Windows 2000. It went pretty damn smooth, except for the occasional whiner about Vista.

And herein lies the problem. I can guarantee with absolute certainty that the IRS will not do it right. That they're late already proves that it wasn't done right. The IRS needs to be disbanded and all of the losers that work there can try to survive in the real world.

Wasteful spending. Fraud charges need to be brought against every IRS head of the past 8 years for saying systems were up to date and secure.

They will get back a good fraction of it as taxes from Microsoft for this income. They've probably sent the cheque to Microsoft for XP support and attached a tax notice for this revenue along with it.

More government waste, shouldn't be a surprise there.

Officials should be held accountable for things like this (I know Sebelius quit). There is no excuse for letting critical systems, hardware or software, getting in this situation.

Leave it to Microsoft to make money from a 12 year old operating system. I bet other companies look at that and wonder why they never thought of it.

OS migration isn't as easy as it sounds. I work as a Consultant and currently working on a migration project for almost 3000 users; a lot goes into it. 

Somehow we go from an article on government inefficiency, from which you should all learn a lesson about keeping government limited in size and scope, to a bunch of you arguing about google and Bing, XP or 7 or 8, and what a good analogy is. Meanwhile, the government grows bigger and stronger and more intrusive, taking over your lives...and you deserve it.
Hail Hydra.

Lol! It just happens. Everyone argues their point, whether it is good or bad... Then.. Someone breaks it with a good argument or bad argument... And we end up arguing things that don't necessarily matter. We are all guilty of it. Specially me.. But what can we do to fix it when there are so many dumbasses and smartasses? Funny thing is, if anyone tries to respond to this, most likely, it will be the dumbasses that agree. Lol. (Tiny prediction :D )

Lame lol gov should have move to Windows 8 so they get more years for support, can anyone in here explain how transition is more than extended support

come on !!! Windows 8.1 after update has changed a lot and in fact has become more user friendly for Mouse/Keyboard users :-D.. You should definitely pay millions to upgrade to Windows 8.1 rather than sitting back and running legacy OS

Microsoft is having a lot of problems right now. XP is used by a lot of businesses because they looked at W7 like it was a form of vista (we all know Ballmer still beats himself up over vista) and most computer techs look at Windows 8 like it is a piece of garbage. I have windows 8 on my laptop and I don't like some stuff on it. Let's not forget the bad messaging for Xbox one. Microsoft has dropped the ball on a lot of things. I mean they make more money everytime a OEM installs Android on their phones and it is not even Microsoft's OS. It's Google's. Luckly Google is not suing Microsoft over it. Their just holding access to mobile app's like YouTube or Google Maps over their head, and making excuses like Windows Phone has a very small user base. Google would be more happier if Microsoft was out of business and Apple was their only competitor.

As a taxpayer, I'd br pretty upset if not for the fact Microsoft blindsided everyone by pulling support without warning. No, wait.........

Nevermind.

You know.. I was adamant about windows XP and 7.. And how much better they were than windows 8. But I bought a surface, and while it isn't full blow windows 8... I freaking love it! I think it just takes getting used to. Or! It is just the ability to use touchscreen. It certainly isnt easy to learn quickly, but it might be better. The real problem lies with the idea that everything isn't "where it should be." We are so used to having that start menu and folders organized in such a way that it takes 3 clicks to get to our destination. Will someone that has never used windows 8 quickly glide through folders for the first few months? That is going to cost a lot of time, and in today's day, time is money.. So the question is, stay on XP and continue with normal productivity, OR upgrade and lost a lot of time?

Government laziness and stupidity aside.  I'd love to see how the XP extended support cost will pad MS' coffers this year.  Likely not that much, but still amusing to see. 

The button was removed in windows 8 and the added the start screen they added back the button in windows 8.1 they didn't remove the start screen. The start menu is old now.

Windows XP was that last teardrop that forced me to chose Linux platforms years ago and I'm happier ever since...

Its going to be 3 am here in India. Where do u stay? I guess in the update will hit in the morning when US wakes up including our writers.

Nobody ever said it was going to be Monday anyways. Joe tweeted "the beginning of next week" that could mean any day before Wednesday.

I love the W7/8 haters... For the corporate world, Windows 7 is the answer. Fan boy or not, The learning curve costs buisness a lot of money, down time and tons of other little issues that end up hurting the bottom line. Going from XP to Windows 7 does not carry a large training cost.

Smaller new companies can go to Windows 8 no problem but, I can't see the big 500 companies moving right into 8, traning costs are not in the thousands, they are in the millions.

Anyway about it, The US goverment's IRS (the bastards that will aduit you if you make a mistake on your taxes) who collects taxes is waisting our money, instead of planning for this when it was noticed years ago, Now they are going to dump millions into it ?

Your tax dollars hard at work....

Windows 8???? HELL, I'm still using 3.1 on a daily basis with zero problems. Why? Because it works and it can still run the machine its connected to. got zero security or virus concerns with that ancient beast.