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Gov ends £5.5m XP custom support contract

But the Met and NHS are still using XP, leaving them potentially exposed to hackers

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The government has ended a custom support deal for Windows XP, despite some public bodies still using the aged operating system.

Microsoft stopped issuing security patches and updates for XP last April, encouraging users to transition to a newer operating system.

However, Whitehall coughed up 5.5 million for a one year custom support deal as departments moved to Windows 8.1, and today revealed it has no plans to renew it.

The Government Digital Service (GDS) said in a blog post: "All departments have had seven years warning of the 2014 end of normal support and this one year agreement was put together with the support of technology leaders to give everyone a chance to get off XP.

"The technology leaders met last month and took a collective decision to not extend the support arrangement for 2015."

However, not all public bodies have moved off XP yet, including the Metropolitan Police, which is running the operating system on 35,000 computers, as revealed by Motherboard.

Interim Met CTO Stephen Deakin told IT Pro that while he's rolled out Windows 8.1 onto 1,000 devices, he has no date in mind for when the migration will be complete.

The NHS also has a way to go before it can transition away from XP.

But the GDS is determined not to renew the contract, saying instead that slow coaches must adhere to government guidelines on lowering risk or sort their own support out.

It said: "There has been good progress in moving away from Windows XP across departments and government organisations and with many public bodies this transition is complete.

"We expect most remaining government devices using Windows XP will be able to mitigate any risks, using the CESG guidance. Where this is not possible, they may need to review their own short term transition support."

Security firm GFI Software called on departments using XP to isolate the operating system to ensure data remains secure from bugs affecting it.

General manager Sergio Galindo said: "The thought that potentially insecure and unsupported XP PCs could still be in use in sensitive areas of the public and private sector is concerning.

"Windows XP has to be withdrawn from use now, or at least isolated using virtual machine images on computers not connected to the internet."

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