UK government is paying £5.5 million for continued support of Windows XP

Windows infographic

Support for Windows XP may be ending in just a few days, but that doesn't mean everyone has prepared themselves for a switch.

The U.K. government, in particular, has announced that a new agreement with Microsoft will get them continued support for the next 12 months while they continue to update their infrastructure to newer versions of the operating system. Of course, this comes at a cost — £5.5 million to be exact. This figure, while quite high, is small compared to the cost of updating all the various systems and training users, and would have been considerably higher had individual departments negotiated with Microsoft versus one grand agreement.

It's still a bitter pill to swallow when you see your tax dollars spent to support old IT, and we imagine a big push to move things over will be coming this year.

Source: Neowin


Reader comments

UK government is paying £5.5 million for continued support of Windows XP


The money they're trying to spend supporting old x86 shit could be put towards upgrading to Windows 8. If their software doesn't work on anything but XP, they have bigger security issues they should be worried about.

Which is exactly what they are trying to do but they have to use something for the moment and that may as well be what they are currently using!!!

Windows XP is NT5.1. Windows NT5 was 2000. NT is literally 2 decades ago, get with the times. UK government agencies (which includes the NHS, 3rd biggest employer in the world and has about 500,000 systems running XP) run Windows XP professional, the replacement for Windows 2000.

Whenever some other country does something stupid people say 'usa would do the same thing!' even if they havent. And if the usa does something dumb those same people say 'only in thr usa!' stupid shit happens everywhere. Its just that not all countries are under a microscope

That's a lot of money for an outdated OS. I live in a third world country, but almost all of our government facilities have already upgraded to windows 7 3 years ago.

Actually it's probably easier for third world countries to switch because

1- they don't have that much infrastructure on IT to switch 

2- the IT infrastructure they do have is likely to be only a few years old, and therefore easier to upgrade than a 20year old system at a major bank or airline.

We are not talking about banks or airlines here. And if we assume that third world countries have proportionally smaller infrastructure relative to their GDP, what's the excuse for the UK government?

This means that they can push the upgrade bill until after the next election, so a small 5.5m bill now wont affect the balance sheet as the huge bill to upgrade will, so that invoice will be after the election when it wont matter as much.

I've not seen one. I hoped mine would but nope, I just received Windows 7 to replace my XP work machine last summer. Its pathetic it took that long and they were still on XP.

I read somewhere yesterday that the Japanese Government is upgrading about 30,000 XP computers to windows 8.1. I can't remember the actual source but but I believe it was news feed from the app Technews Now.

I agree. Windows 8 was a big change but it wasn't as if Microsoft drastically changes Windows with every release.

The biggest consideration for very large entities is they generally have homegrown software made to work on a specific platform. Although upgrading Windows seems like it would be relatively straightforward, having to deal with compatibility issues or even entirely recoding their software might be a dealbreaker for upgrading.

But definitely not if it comes to their private IT gadgets. It's those people who complain at work and demand training when it comes to system upgrades but their home electronics may very well be the latest in class! That keeps annoying me most.

*people hate wasting time & money. If you have 10,000-30,000 of PC's then the costs are spectacular, both in hardware, software, and now with W8 an added training overhead. Why upgrade when there's no discernible benefit? If all your workers just need Office 2003 and some custom XP software then why upgrade? That custom software has to be upgraded too, and for government or big corporate systems that means millions in spending. It's even sillier trying to push a company to upgrade 10,000 PC's from W7 to W8. There's no difference in the OS at all for business users, except a headache of training everyone to use it (unlike all prior versions). I like W8 as a consumer, but if anyone asked me if their W7 work machines should be upgraded I would say "hell no - waste of time, waste of money, for no benefit".

I rather have taxpayers money go to a company that makes my phone, PC, cloud storage, email, gaming console and music collection than any other benefit frauds or another MPs billing scandal.

More money to Microsoft, but it means a group of people that could have been working on Windows 9 is still working on Windows XP... :(

Nope. Means more employment. Microsoft has the resources to hire more people to support xp or develop windows 9. They have the money for that. That's what they do, not halt or compromise future development. 

Sorry, but nope again.  No self-respecting manager is going to hire additional people to service an outdated product that is 12 years old and for which MORE THAN AMPLE warning has been given for its phase out.  MSFT's cash reserves are not intended to be squandered for the poor planning and resource allocation of its customers' IT departments.

The cost has nothing to do with how much it will cost MS to keep the security fixes coming, they'll just hire the new starts to do it. It's a purely punitive cost to make it more expensive to keep XP than upgrade.

And they can use that £5.5mil to employ another group - perhaps even better people - to work on Windows 9. Non-issue is not an issue. =)

Someone should be fired for this. It's waste of money and they knew it's coming long time ago. There are plenty alternatives but you need someone to make decision.

Or they could have started updating a year in advance when they found out support for XP was ending. Sounds irresponsible on their end.

Actually, they've known about for much longer then a year. MS was very vocal about XP ending for years. This is just poor planning. In my office, we couldn't move past XP until we upgraded our phone system. They knew it was coming for years, but waited until ltwo weeks ago to do it. 3 years ago, they bought us new computers licensed with W7, but immediately re-imaged us to xp.

I agree. To all the XP users there was a warning email sent to upgrade their OS before April 2014 but I guess govt officials did not plan it well. But could this deal between MS and UK gov't not just for support and upgrade at the end of support? Who'll pay such a huge amount for just support, I guess they may get an upgrade to the latest OS once their systems and staffs are ready for the new OS.

I work in a lab.  You should see the type of computers and OSs hooked up to some of our equipment.

National security priority Number 1 lol, Mind blowing considering the adoption rate of WP8 over there as well!!

It sucks at handling 64bit architecture, it's security sucks and if their software requires them to use XP, their software sucks. Let it die with VHS and 8trac.

Video Home System. It was a standard for storing videos on tapes and had tough competition with Betamax just like how HD-DVD and Blu-Ray fought it over.

There is a cap on desktops for a custom support agreement and total per year is far less than $5M.

"Training users"....for Windows 7? LOL. 

In the company I work for we are 7000, when everyone upgraded from XP to Windows 7 not a single person needed training. 

You pressed a button when you left for the day, and when you arrived for work the next day it was all god. Every program, settings, accounts....you name it. 

I have to agree.... I work in a company with approximately 2000 staff. Not one training session. In fact I have never had any training on windows since 3.1. Don't get me wrong, I am a home XP user, so got used to that. 7 was a welcome change at work, but hardly necessitated training. We use some very clunky software at work too, apparently all our systems are 64 bit, but have to run at 32. Or something like that.

Oh for the love of fuck move on people the government should of been on this last year updating systems but that's planning ahead they don't do that.

I worked in IT and many companies are so dog slow to upgrade it's pathetic.


The thing is, they are probably still on XP because they didn't actually ADOPT XP until 2008 or so.  Every government I've contracted to has been so pathetically behind on updating their OS.  And when this UK government completes it's "update", they probably will only update to Windows 7.  I HIGHLY doubt they are moving to Windows 8.  

The NHS is in the same place, BUT its more serious for them. They've got critical applications that are relaint on XP/IE6, I heard there also opting for Extended Support, at a big cost

Uk here. Very angry about this. Its not mickeys fault. Its or crap uk Cameron pussy government. Bring back thatcher. . Useless -------

I disagree that it's a small amount in comparison to upgrading, a huge majority of people have been using Windows 7 at home for years so training costs should be minimal and they are using XP on laptops and desktops that have been designed for a more modern OS so apps, drivers and hardware just doesn't work as well.

Not to mention that they still have to pay for upgrading anyway, so they're paying for the upgrade in the future PLUS this continued support for XP. Would have saved money to just upgrade. Although maybe money doesn't concern them as much as it should when it comes to spending it?

Was the cost of a Win7 licence reduced, since Win8 was released? if so, it could make some financial sense to adopt Win7.

Also, what is the cost of upgrading? say the UK government has to upgrade 1 million licenses, at 110£ each (that's largely underestimated if you include costs of labour and time). If they invest that money at 2% for 1 year, they'll gain the 5.5£ million back. So no big deal.

1. Why don't they take that 5.5 million and teach their staff members windows 8, guaranteed 1 year + support.
2. They do know windows 8 has desktop mode right? IIS, WCF (even though no one uses that anymore), ability to develop and all the goodies needed.

c'mon man, put that money in us, startups and Indies... We really need it.

Change is good, if you're open minded. I was working on my best friend's desktop, which had windows 7 installed, it felt ancient to me, because I'm used to a Windows 8.1 environment, better performance and better multitasking

I work in a small firm with around 300 users and between an IT team of 3 members we managed to re-image everyone's HDD's to Windows 7 in under a year. Everyone else is just plain arse lazy.

Of course they are. Ugh!

Though they're the same government who have been spending millions a year maintaining dying decade old machines rather than just buy new ones that would cost less and last longer so it's not really surprising...

This is crazy if just update to 8 or even 7 which still would probably costs less than paying to keep XP.

Posted via the WPC App On My Lumia 521 or My Moto G

There is a good chance that they aren't ready to upgrade. The average duration for an enterprise XP to Win7 upgrade project is 12-18 months. Many large enterprises and government agencies assumed that Microsoft would cave and extend support for another year or two. There are countless other infrastructure dependencies as well. Many may still be using Server 2003, legacy antivirus infrastructure that has to be upgraded, web applications and hundreds of applications that need to be packaged, repackaged, upgraded, virtualized and retested against Win7 or Win8. There is also Office and that could easily be a project unto itself. In the least, we end up making adjustments to image automation, packaging, Active Directory and Group Policy baselines. More often, it includes an overhaul of SCCM and so forth. Then there are logistics and deployment for new servers, PC's and compatible peripherals. Often, it will end up including a backend overhaul for line of business applications or things like purchasing and personnel systems as well. Organizations that maintain infrastructure with frequent upgrades are in a better position but most of them are done with their migrations.

I remember XP, I loathed it and it's surprising that they won't force people to use DOS with this approach. Why replace a shovel with a machine if you can still dig a hole with it, right ?

"... continued support for the next 12 months while they continue to update their infrastructure to newer versions of the operating system."

Did any of you actually read the article or did you skim it and post. The UK government paid Microsoft for XP support while they are updating the infrastructure, which is a massive job considering all the departments probably need updated hardware as well. They have to use something while this happens so XP is the logical choice as that's what they are currently using.

Are you seriously trying to defend this spending? It doesn't matter, all that means is that they are needlessly spending 5.5 million for added support while they do the upgrades that should have been done already. I mean, they're not alone. EVERY bank, and I do mean EVERY SINGLE ONE runs on XP, ancient infrastructure, shitty old apps and creaking hardware. How do you think they keep profits up?

There is no defense for not replacing a FIFTEEN year old OS.

Eh appeal to tradition... It has always been easy/working/good that way, so no reason to change it...

But I do understand them. It is hard to make such quick change.. Specially when you will lose a lot of productivity during that learning change...

Not saying it won't be better in the long run, but it isn't 100% guaranteed to be better than what it currently is now.

Companies pay $200 per PC per month for Windows XP support because they didn't make all the applications compatible in time.

In Maldives, we have a minimum spec sheet that all government PCs must pass. In 2011, that was increases to something along the lines of " minimum Windows 7-capable specs, plus minimum 2GB available RAM, running Windows 7 or greater"

Most people have laptops at home now that I'm guessing are running windows 7 or later, will it be so hard to migrate them from XP to windows 7 or 8.1 in the workplace? Or am I missing something fatally?? On a learning curve point of view??

Its certification of apps and bespoke systems I'd guess. Large organisations have IT suppliers managing the software and infrastructure that need to approve everything and check it all integrates. The government probably has records systems on bespoke apps with unique plugins or DTDs, mainframes, old versions of Access, AmiPro or Lotus123. We're going through this at our place now in an org of over 15,000 but we started a year or two ago. Only a few XPs left now.

But it couldn't have took 2 years to do that!! Probably the same here in Ireland though!! Civil servants have it too handy lol !!

They had how long to upgrade? 4 years total counting the extra 2 that MS gave them. And they just sat on their asses and now they're spending 5.5 million more than they would have if they had got to it earlier. But they waited until the last minute.

I'm sure if we delve deep enough we'll find senior ministers with shares in MS or Sataya Nadella once played cricket with George Osborne.

I can't believe this. I read it in the Telegraph the other day. Completely scandalous. Ok, they had a tight budget over the last few years, but they've had 7 years to prepare!! Now by trying to save money by delaying expensive migrations, it's costing the taxpayer even more money with this needless extended support. Absolutely scandalous. A government minister should resign for this.

Wow, talk about weird move.

I mean, I kinda understand if the PCs are crap, or if they have some sort of developed software that only works on XP (even though it's hard to believe with compatibility mode and all that). Would be plenty sad if this was because of some weird resistance or bias... you could replace tons of PCs with 7 or 8 with that ammount of money.

I mean, XP is plenty good I guess, for some basic software and stuff... but it's not like this is a transition to Vista 1st gen. 7 and 8 are also plenty stable. And they'd work better as long as your computer isn't also from XP era.

But oh well, I guess it isn't too surprizing... that's just how big corporations are, and if you consider how government works like a huge corporation with tons of bureaucracy where there are tons of clueless people who are completely ignorant about technology, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" makes a lot of sense.

I work in a scientific research lab and boy, people are reluctant to upgrade. Many of our high-end instrumentation still run on XP based software with no guarantee of compatibility with an upgraded OS. I personally have written to the IT depts of these OEMs for software upgrades and 64-bit OS support as the data generated usually runs into hundreds of GBs and you would need CPU and RAM combos which can crunch through all of this. Sadly, no one understands tech well and you've no option but to wait in anticipation till they offer an upgrade.

I'm not in the habit of defending our government but the programme to upgrade started some considerable time ago, my workplace was scheduled to roll out early last year, there were problems with offices who had rolled out faced severe IT failures post roll out. The process had to be put on a slower roll out whilst all the kinks were worked out. It's not as simple as an OS upgrade, all PCs have to be replaced, local servers decommissioned and workplaces transitioned to central server farms. In some cases this the wires into the building being upgraded to allow more data through the 'pipes' and in some cases involved digging up roads etc

Some individual programs also needed re-working to operate efficiently over a remote connection on the scale required. Frankly they could have just bought us all new updated PCs but they took the decision to at long last upgrade everything the whole lot rather than the usual sticking plaster, thats a decision I applaud quite frankly, our infastructure was antiquated and the whole lot is at last being brought up to date.

markyjns speaks sense. Upgrading an infracture such as this is a massive task, one that *did* start a few years ago. It is *nothing* like you upgrading your home computer, and it is *nothing* like you people citing upgrades happening in companies with 2,000 employees - single buildings or offices among many house that many employees. In the first quarter of 2012, 5.899 million were employed by the public sector - many (most) of which will be either directly or indirectly (and thus compatibility with their systems needs to be checked and proven) affected by this.

Bollocks. It's a factor of over a decade of spending on anything other than IT because managers don't see the value of IT, so yes, there have been huge problems introduced. But the tools are there to do mass deployments wilth relative ease. The places where whole new backend infrastructure is required would have needed these upgrades regardless of the age of XP so that arguemnt is moot. The simple fact is that companies and the government have put it off as long as they can just because they didn't want to spend the money or take the time.

When you do that you get to a stage where small scale evolutionary changes aren't going to cut it and you need a wholescale revolutionary change.

But I used to work for a very large, well known UK bank and I assure you that I all the tools at my disposal to upgrade 1000's of desktops over a short period of time. The ease of OS upgrade, however, is not the issue or the reason why large organisations have taken to so long to upgrade: it's the applications. Home made apps, ones that don't exist anymore or where the version they have a license for is out of date and the current version won't run on XP. It's these ancilliary applications and the vast amount of testing and remediation required that make upgrade projects so costly. 50% of most of the time and cost in IT is testing.

Just to justify your 1% pay rise against their 11% pay rise, and to blame the benefits claimants. Once they upgrade the infrastructure they will cut your jobs and make you redundant. Yay for the wonderful British Government.

They had different priorities a couple of years past; bombing here and there & steal crude oil.


Yes Minister/Priminister. Ohhh yeeaaaah

It's pathetic they feel they need this extension. XP is FOUR major OS updates ago (8.1, 8, 7, Vista), and 7 had many well-developed and functional XP-compatible functions and features. They could have developed for 7 when 8 was announced, or when XP was stated to be losing support and had significant vulnerabilities compared to its older systems. Do they still use Symbian, Windows Mobile, and pre-Blackberry OS5 there, too? I hope they're making the upgrade worthwhile and going right to 8.1. I hope Microsoft and its hardware partners start making more sales with support of XP going.

But the announcement was made ages ago. Didn't the UK government get the memo ?? They could've spared all of this money if they planned the past year ahead of them

Why bother about wasting money when you can cut services and welfare to the poorest in society to chuck away millions of pounds in useless tech.

Why they dont just spend the money for switching Windows 8.1. If they have important things, why dont use a storage device, a big storage device...tsk tsk

Give them time to upgrade. Yeah its ok to pay for extended support and give time to the UK government. Even MS give notice to the world about the end of support of XP, still so hard to upgrade because lots of changes happen, from XP to 8.1, very hard to employees to lear 8.1 so they need a lot of time for that

Stupid they should swap to windows 7 it work exactly as xp in better and faster, so no need to training anybody and since than windows 8 is out the price of windows 7 is not a big deal !!!

Oh my, nobody told us this 15 year old OS was coming to an end and we didn't have time to plan! Actually, no, that's a lie, we've known for years and could have done something about it but we didn't want to spend that budget on IT.