Curran, Dunne clash over Windows XP debacle

Months after Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP, thousands of New Zealand government computers still run the software.

There is no excuse for this costly and dangerous state of affairs.

At the National Business Review Chris Keall offers plenty of depth and background on the war of words between Labour technology spokesperson Clare Curran and Peter Dunne. The pair clash over the number of government Windows XP computers still in use.

Perhaps the most outrageous part of this is that Dunne has refused to release the information on how many computers are affected. The only conclusion one can draw from this is that the number is higher than officials would like you to think.

It’s extremely poor management to allow things to reach this state. Microsoft gave plenty of warning about closing off support and extended its original deadline. The cost of upgrading from Windows XP is not high and most XP-only applications can run in virtual machines on newer versions of Windows.

Heads should roll over this.

19 thoughts on “Curran, Dunne clash over Windows XP debacle

  1. What people are forgetting is software shouldn’t be on a strategy of ‘If I really have to because it’s EOL’… it’s absolutely telling that nothing was put into action, oh I don’t know, when 2 full versions of the OS had been released. You know, 5 years ago.

    The problem Bill is that even if heads roll it isn’t going to stop the systemic and complete incompetence of the Gov’t where technology is concerned.

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      • If you’re gonna push ChromeOS I’m gonna push Ubuntu. Both great alternatives that are far more secure, far cheaper, and require a bit of training. Also hopefully we can gut the IT dept enough and bring in enough new expert talent to shake things up a bit. Both OSes being far superior in upgrade options is a win too.

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      • Yeah, Ubuntu would be good too.

        The advantage Chrome has is that it comes from a giant US corporation, which means the muppets who make these decisions will listen spellbound though presentations before getting out the chequebook.

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      • Yeah, Canonical, SUSE, and RedHat aren’t small, but they’re not Google big. And certainly not of the same mindshare.

        My approach has the benefit or not needing hardware upgrades (technically, but HDDs fail etc and these are probably pretty old computers), but that is a minor cost compared to training and migration etc.

        Chromeboxes/books could probably make it worth it on power savings alone for the 20,000+ PCs I bet need replacing.

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    • The government needs it’s own IT department that provides everything every other government department needs as far as IT goes – sourcing hardware (probably cloud computing) and developing the software. The government is large enough to be able to do that economically. And, yes, it should be using Linux and probably it’s own internally developed version of it.

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      • Linux is fine in principal. Ultimately that, or something very similar, drives Chrome OS anyway. The problem is that people throw up their hands in fear if you mention something like Ubuntu. Let’s face it, to most people it IS exotic and scary sounding. And, I guess, desktop Linux requires a tad more support than browser-based everything.

        I just don’t think a government department has any need for desktop apps, it’s a little different when there are custom apps for specific jobs and legacy code, but surely that can all be virtualised and delivered through a browser, or is the technology too out of date for that?

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      • Ubuntu or any other distribution of Linux does not preclude web apps, in fact I would see them use it in much the same way; boot-to-browser. Once they’re in Chrome/Firefox they will still feel right at home.

        Linux is easier to run VMs or WINE or remote desktop as needed for legacy apps, too. Linux has better (afaik) remote management with remote desktop and SSH.

        The fear can be overcome. We’re not talking about making them use it at home, this is their job. If people can learn to use the banking software at banks or checkout software at The Warehouse they can bloody well learn that the Chrome icon is on the side now, not the bottom.

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    • If they don’t, let’s hope this is the kick up the arse they need to head towards the browser, Bill. They lost any defense against it right around the time we could effectively do our banking over the Internet.

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      • I’ve got someone on Twitter telling my it can’t happen because of SQL. I’ve run WordPress sites on MYSQL, seems fine to me. Surely there’s a bulletproof open source alternative to SQL?

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      • It’s not impossible to migrate to MySQL or MariaDB. Plus the computers don’t need it, just the servers.
        Most likely it isn’t just MSSQL, but the whole shebang; ASP.NET, IIS, MSSQL, ODBC, C#… just like Microsoft intended – make it so hard to migrate away hardly anyone thinks of doing it.

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      • Well that’s what I thought. As for the lock-in, well that’s all the reason you need to move right there. Interesting how Microsoft Azure is relatively open.

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      • Interesting yes, but easily explainable. They know they’re getting their asses handed to them in the server space. Join or die. Especially with VMs taking over it isn’t feasable to hold onto their licensing schemes when you can’t tie a server to hardware.

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  2. Well, I just hope that no one is planning on migrating over to Win7:

    Microsoft Announces End of Windows 7 Mainstream Support

    On 13 January 2015 Windows 7’s ‘Mainstream Support’ will come to an end. That means no new Service Packs or features will be released. This is wholly different from the end of ‘Extended Support’ which is what happened to Windows XP on 8 April 2014.

    Extended Support is the big one: no more security patches when hackers find holes, no performance improvements, nothing – the OS is effectively dead. Windows 7 Extended Support will not end until 11 April 2017.

    Even the planned dropping of Extended Support isn’t that far away.

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