The United States Navy announced in mid-June that it signed an agreement with Microsoft to continue receiving support for Windows XP.
The Navy agreed to pay Microsoft just over $9 million to receive security patches for XP programs, which the company stopped supporting back in April 2014. However, the around 100,000 workstations and critical warfare computer systems used by the Navy still reside on Windows XP, and the branch of the armed services wants to continue being able to use programs like Office 2003, Exchange 2003 and Windows Server 2003. Instead of upgrading to newer operating systems, the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, which runs the Navy’s communication and IT networks, agreed to pay Microsoft to continue offering support for the organization. If necessary, the contract could extend to 2017 and be worth nearly $31 million, IDG News Service reported.
“The Navy relies on a number of legacy applications and programs that are reliant on legacy Windows products. Until those applications and programs are modernized or phased out, this continuity of services is required to maintain operational effectiveness,” said Steven Davis, a spokesman for SPAWAR.
While $9 million may seem like a lot of money to spend on an outdated system, the cost of completely overhauling the entire Navy’s IT infrastructure would be massively expensive and necessary to update many of the machines currently in use.
“It all comes down to money and resources,” said security analyst Graham Cluley. “There can be a significant cost in terms of time, people and software licenses when it comes to rolling out new versions of operating systems. Hardware may need to be upgraded to run new operating systems for instance, which may require computers to be visited in person and replaced. If the IT department hasn’t got the buy-in from the bosses, then budgets may not have been released to do the work.”
Upgrading systems is not always the best option
Because of the prohibitively high cost of a total IT overhaul, many major organizations still rely on Windows XP and other outdated operating systems. The Tokyo Electric Power Company, for example, finally stopped using Windows XP to run its 48,000 computers at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in May. The company was using the old operating system as a way to save money after the power plant experienced a meltdown in 2011. Even more outdated is the Michigan school district that still relies on a 30-year-old Commodore Amiga to control the heating and air conditioning for 19 schools.
According to technology research firm NetMarketshare, Windows XP still makes up approximately 14 percent of the total market share for desktop operating systems. That is a larger share than Windows 8.1, Microsoft’s latest OS, currently holds.
When enterprise IT departments find just the right operability it can be hard to let go of it, even if it’s lost mainstream support. Luckily, Faronics offers a solution that will allow businesses to hold on to the next operating system they fall in love with. Faronics’ instant system restore solution Deep Freeze Enterprise allows companies to protect their Windows or Mac operating systems and ensure 100 percent availability. Deep Freeze Enterprise works so well that the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command has been using it to help support its workstations, as it enables them to retain their systems’ pristine condition. Once preferred settings and configurations are decided, Deep Freeze Enterprise will store and lock them in place. If any changes are made, either accidentally or through malicious activity, a simple reboot is all that is needed for a machine to be restored to its original settings.