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Ministries, DHBs spend $2 m plus on Windows XP extended support

Randal Jackson is still writing strong news stories for Computerworld New Zealand. Earlier today he filed:  Ministries, DHBs spend more than $2 million on XP extended support.

Jackson writes:

A document obtained from Labour MP Claire Curran’s office show that some government departments and DHBs are paying for extended XP support, even as others cease using the OS.

As the story points out between government departments and district health boards the thick end of 40,000 PCs still run Microsoft’s 12-years old and discontinued Windows XP software. Collectively the bill for extended support for these machines will come to more than NZ$2 million this year. That’s around $50 per device.

Presumably there will be support bills next year and the year after too.

Lame excuses

No doubt managers will be able to trot out justifications for sticking with the unsupported and increasingly dangerous operating system. The excuses don’t stack up.

The way government buys software licences from Microsoft means the cost of upgrading the OS isn’t a plausible excuse.

While it could true that some of the 40,000 machines are not capable of running a newer version of Windows, that doesn’t apply to any PCs made in the last six or seven years — that’s more than long enough to sweat hardware assets.

If departments don’t have or can’t pay for the skills needed to handle the upgrade, that is a terrible reflection on them and their funding ministers.

Sooner or later even XP extended must go

The most plausible excuse is that applications built for Windows XP don’t run well — in some cases at all — on newer versions of Windows.

That can be true, but modern Windows versions can run most XP apps in compatibility mode or in virtual machines. This may need work. I’ve news for the government departments, you’re going to have to do this eventually.

As for software that can’t be tweaked to run on anything other than XP… what’s the plan? Carry on indefinitely? Come on, it’s not as if you haven’t known for years this day would come.