The UK government has confirmed that it has not extended support from Microsoft for Windows XP, although some departments are still running the ancient software.
A source told V3 last month that the contract was not renewed, but nothing official was forthcoming from the government as the election meant that no new information about government policies could be released.
However, a blog post from the government has now confirmed that the decision was taken not to extend the contract as technology leaders in government had been given plenty of time to make the necessary migration plans.
"All departments have had seven years warning of the 2014 end of normal support and this one-year agreement was put together with the support of Technology Leaders to give everyone a chance to get off XP," the government said.
"The Technology Leaders met last month and took a collective decision to not extend the support arrangement for 2015. The current support agreement ended in April 2015."
The government said that most departments have made the move, or are doing so, although it acknowledged that some may still have to pay for custom support from Microsoft.
"There has been good progress in moving away from Windows XP across departments and government organisations and with many public bodies this transition is complete," it said.
"We expect most remaining government devices using Windows XP will be able to mitigate any risks, using the CESG guidance. Where this is not possible, they may need to review their own short-term transition support."
The extended support contract was negotiated last year between Microsoft and the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), which is part of the Cabinet Office. Under its provisions Microsoft would provide one year’s additional support after the general support deadline for XP expired.
The CCS made it plain at the time that it would not renew the deal, and urged all departments to ensure that they migrated in time.
“It is important to note that there are no plans to negotiate a further national extension of XP support beyond April 2015," the CCS said in a letter to departments.
“It is therefore essential that all NHS organisations put in place robust plans to migrate away from Windows XP, Office 2003 and Exchange 2003 by that date."
This contract expired on 14 April.
Microsoft issued a statement to V3 in April, seemingly confirming that the deal had come to an end, although it did use the future tense.
“On 14 April 2015 the UK CCS Agreement for Windows XP, Office 2003 and Exchange 2003 will expire and will not be renewed for a second year,” the firm said.
“Consequently, support will no longer be offered for Windows XP, Office 2003 and Exchange 2003, all of which are well over a decade old and reached end of support on 8 April 2014."
The statement continued: "Individual government departments and agencies are also able to purchase extended support as they see fit.”
One public sector organisation that is still in the process of moving from XP is the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), which acts independently of central government.
The MPS revealed last month that it was negotiating a support deal with Microsoft after confirming that it still has 35,000 laptops and desktops running XP.
"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," the force told V3. "This is currently being negotiated directly with Microsoft."
UK security industry veteran Graham Cluley told V3 that the situation was “disturbing” and suggested that the UK authorities see security as a low priority.
“It's disturbing that the UK government's ‘last chance saloon’ for XP support appears to have run dry,” he said. “The failure by government to move on from Windows XP shows a troubling lack of regard for security.”
Cluley added that the government was well briefed on the need to migrate but had clearly not done the necessary work.
“We've known since 2007 that Microsoft was going to drop support for XP in 2014, so why did the government fail to achieve what every other business and home user is expected to do?" he said.
“And given an extra year's grace, they still haven't moved on. Every day that passes with government computers still running XP seems to me to increase the risk.”
The UK government is not alone in running Windows XP despite the security deadline passing. Recent data showed that there are still millions of machines running the ancient platform.
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