The public sector is spending £5.5 million to buy more time for OS migration
The UK government is set to receive Windows XP support beyond the 8 April deadline, after signing a 12-month contract with Microsoft.
The emergency measure also extends to Office 2003 and Exchange 2003 and was negotiated by the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), known as Government Procurement Service until earlier this week.
“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. 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,” said a spokesman for the Cabinet Office.
Microsoft previously said it would stop all support in April, but has since softened its stance slightly. In January the company announced it will continue providing new malware signatures for XP’s Microsoft Security Essentials and other security software until July 2015.
Stay of execution
Twelve years after its launch, almost a third of the desktops in the world are thought to still run Windows XP. Following the spectacular failure of Windows Vista, Microsoft has found it hard to convince businesses to abandon the trusted operating system in favour of the company’s more recent Windows 7 and somewhat experimental Windows 8.
Under the terms of the deal with Microsoft, the government will pay £5.558 million to ensure that thousands of PCs across all government organisations including public schools, local councils and the NHS remain secure.
The CCS says it has negotiated a better deal for the government thanks to the economies of scale, saving up to 80 percent off the standard support pricing. There’s a slight catch: in order to receive support at discounted rates, government departments will have to submit a feasible operating system migration plan.
“We are delighted that this agreement will deliver projected savings in excess of £20m against standard pricing in the next 12 months,” commented Rob Wilmot, crown commercial representative for Software.
“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.”
Computerworld previously reported that Microsoft planned to charge businesses around $200 (£120) per PC for custom support after the April deadline. According to the Cabinet Office, the value of the deal would stand at around £25 million if Microsoft would apply “standard pricing”. These numbers suggest that around 200,000 computers in the public sector still run Windows XP.