Met Police Still Running 35,000 Windows XP Systems

police handcuff security crime keyboard © Oleksiy Mark Shutterstock

London’s police service is still heavily dependent upon Windows XP, a year after the end of official support from Microsoft

London’s Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) is still running more than 35,000 systems on Windows XP, a year after Microsoft stopped offering support for the operating system to the general public, according to a Freedom of Information request.

While the Met said it has a custom support agreement with Microsoft, security experts consider Windows XP increasingly insecure as time goes on.

Police woman officer security © pcruciatti ShutterstockWidespread use

The software is still in wide use, however – as of last month it was the second most widely used operating system, with just under 17 percent of the market, following Windows 7 with 58 percent, according to NetMarketShare. It had a higher share than Windows 8.1, with 10.55 percent, and Mac OS X 10.10, with just under 4 percent, NetMarketShare said.

The Met said it is currently running 35,640 Windows XP desktops and laptops across all departments, according to a Freedom of Information response obtained by Vice’s Motherboard.

The service said a departmental breakdown wasn’t possible because of cross-departmental sharing.

“Many systems are shared and do not necessarily belong to an individual,” the response reportedly stated. “MPS colleagues are able to hot desk between buildings. Therefore this information you seek is not held.”

Custom support

While Microsoft no longer offers general support for Windows XP, it does support systems through Custom Support Agreements (CSA), and the Met said in a statement it has such an agreement that it plans to maintain until it retires the older operating system from its IT estate.

The service didn’t immediately respond to a query regarding when it expects to stop using Windows XP. The British government paid Microsoft £5.5 million last year for a one-year support agreement for Windows XP following its end of general support last April.

“This is an important deal, which will provide continuity for all eligible government and public sector organisations while they migrate on to alternative operating systems,” a spokesman for the Cabinet Office said at the time. “It is an excellent example of collaborative purchasing and demonstrates Crown Commercial Service’s new joined-up approach to commercial arrangements to achieve best value for the taxpayer.”

A freedom of information request by Citrix last autumn found that all NHS trusts were still using XP in some form, with 74 percent planning to migrate in March of this year.

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