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March 31, 2014

99% of Met Police PCs will still be running Windows XP past Microsoft’s 8 April support expiry

Freedom of information request by CBR reveals extent of Windows XP use.

By Ben Sullivan

London’s Metropolitan police force could be facing increased security risks as it has been revealed the force will not be ready for April’s end-of-support deadline for Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system.

Responding to a freedom of information request obtained by Computer Business Review, Met Police revealed that out of 34,436 desktop PCs currently in use by the force, 34,210 of those are still running on Windows XP.

93.9 per cent of its laptops will also still be running on Windows XP past the Microsoft deadline, with 2,307 out of 2,458 laptops on Windows XP. Part of the response from Metropolitan Police reads:

"I have today decided to disclose the located information to you in full.

1) 34,436 desktop PCs currently in use across the Met police force.
2) 2,458 laptops currently in use across the Met police force.
3) 34,210 desktop run Windows XP.
4) 2,307 laptops run Windows XP."

The official cutoff date for Microsoft’s Windows XP support is 8 April. From that date, the 13-year-old operating system will become vulnerable to hacking and malware as Microsoft will no longer issue its monthly security updates which keep machines protected from the latest threats. The official end of extended support was announced by Microsoft in 2007, so users have had seven years to prepare themselves for migration.

"If you continue to use Windows XP after support ends, your computer will still work but it might become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses," said Microsoft on a special Windows XP information page.

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The Met also admitted that "at present there will be no more than 1,000 machines running Windows 8 by April 2014."

"The vast majority of the machines identified above will be in use post April 2014," said the police force in a statement to CBR.

Earlier reports from The Register suggest that the Met has agreed a custom support package with Microsoft to keep the machines running on XP secure from malware and hackers.

However, the Met declined to comment on questions posed by CBR on whether it will be migrating the machines to another operating system.

Microsoft has said it will charge up to £120 per PC to keep security support in place, with this costs rising to £240 in the second year and then £490 in the third year.

If the Met has chosen to use this lifeline, it could cost the force over £4m to keep its machines secure until 8 April 2015, with a cumulative cost of £31.9m if the Met want to keep its machines secure until April 2017.

However, the Met could be negotiating a deal similar to the one Whitehall is negotiating with Microsoft on behalf on the NHS, which also faces a Windows XP dilemma.

The NHS in England currently has over one million computers still running Windows XP.

Last month, the Labour party warned of the risk the public sector faces past the 8 April deadline.

Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Jonathan Ashworth told the Guardian in February: "Millions of families will be fearful that their private health and tax information could be stolen as a result of the government’s failing computer protection programs.

"Ministers must urgently disclose how many people could be at risk and what action is being taken to protect people’s personal details.

"The country will expect nothing less than clear answers and concerted action."

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