NHS Trusts across the UK are risking a security meltdown due to the widespread presence of Microsoft’s outdated Windows XP OS with the government looking at another £5.5 million bill from Microsoft for support.
Citrix, the mobile workspace company, filed a freedom of information act request that found all the of 35 NHS Trusts questioned are still using Windows XP and that just five are utilising desktop virtualisation technology to handle migration away from it.
“Like the rest of the public sector, the NHS is under tremendous pressure to do more with less. The IT department is no exception,” Jason Tooley, UK country manager at Citrix commented. “These findings highlight a wider opportunity for NHS trusts across the UK to harness technology today to transform IT processes for the better. Utilising IT – including desktop and application virtualisation – can positively impact the entire workplace, delivering increased productivity and ultimately improved patient care.”
Even though Microsoft announced Windows XP’s end of life on 8 April 2014, the government has an extension on support until 8 April 2015 and with this in mind, 74 per cent of the trusts surveyed admitted their last devices wouldn’t be migrated until March 2015.
Worryingly another 14 per cent are unsure when they will transition their last computer away from Windows XP and in addition to the five that are already using virtualisation, just two more plan to take a similar path before the deadline.
There is already talk that the UK government could end up signing another extension with Microsoft to provide a second year of support and it’s likely to cost the same £5.5 million it shelled out for help this year.
Under that agreement, Microsoft provides security updates for the 12 year old OS as well as Office 2003 and Exchange 2003 for the entire UK public sector, and a similar deal was also signed by the Dutch government for the same level of support.
With Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 failing to get the public sector’s juices going, the UK government may wait for Windows 10 to come to its rescue and there's a distinct possibility we will be talking about an NHS stuck on Windows XP this time next year.