Whitehall and Microsoft have struck a deal providing emergency cover to tens of thousands of government PCs still running Windows XP after next week’s support cutoff for the ageing OS.
A one-year deal, revealed first by The Register, will see Microsoft release security patches to Windows XP users in the public sector until April 8, 2015.
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Security fixes will also be provided for Office 2003 and Exchange 2003, which also go out of extended support from Microsoft on April 8 this year - next Tuesday.
Final price of the deal has settled at £5.584m and will lead to “projected savings in excess” of £20m against “standard” pricing El Reg was told.
Microsoft’s list price for one year’s custom Windows XP support is $200 per desktop.
The Crown Commercial Service, the commercial agency of Whitehall's central-functions Cabinet Office, reckoned Government negotiators had brought economies of scale to bear on the extended deal with Microsoft by working across departments.
The Crown Commercial Services said in a statement:
“By combining demand, on behalf of Central Government departments and the wider public sector, Crown Commercial Service has demonstrated the benefits of government working as a single customer to achieve best value for the taxpayer, whilst continuing to build good working relationships with our technology suppliers.”
Support won’t be rolled across government by default and civil servants are not obliged to use it. Departments and other bodies must proactively sign up for cover.
To be eligible, though, organizations must have in place plans to migrate off Windows XP.
The stipulation is designed to act as a deterrent to civil servants simply signing and then postponing migration.
Microsoft told The Register: “Agreements such as these do not remove the need to move off Windows XP as soon as possible.”
That’s similar to the private sector. Companies who sign up to custom Windows XP support deals with Microsoft must also demonstrate they have a migration plan in place to get away from the dated operating system.
In the new government deal, the onus is on Microsoft to make the deal worthwhile by making security patches available.
The Government anticipates the majority of government entities eligible for cover will sing out if new security patches becomes available.
It’s also anticipated that the majority of government organisations will have completed Windows XP migrations within the lifetime of the deal.
It was a Register investigation that revealed huge swathes of the public sector would miss the April-8 date to have upgraded from Windows XP.
Among those who will miss the deadline are the Metropolitan Police and HM Revenue and Customs, with 85,268 and 38,551 PCs respectively running Windows XP. But these at least are migrating and expect the process to be finished by the end of the year.
NHS England runs one million PCs through a network of independent GPs, trusts, hospitals and other organisations. The body admitted to us it simply doesn’t know beyond headline numbers the state of Windows XP’s penetration or migration work.
A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “We are pleased to have signed an agreement with Microsoft to maintain critical and important security updates.” ®