Windows XP reached the end of its life cycle over a year ago but lots of small and large organizations and businesses still rely on this antique operating software. Microsoft is still offering Windows XP support but only to clients that pay for it.
Today we learn that one of Microsoft's biggest clients for extended Windows XP support is the US Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), they just signed a $9.1 million contract with Microsoft to keep their Windows XP, Office 2003 and Exchange 2003 software secure.
Across the US Navy, there are still around 100,000 workstations currently using the outdated Microsoft software. The renewal buys SPAWAR time to migrate to Windows 7, many of the systems running Windows XP are in shipboard administrative networks that have not been available for extended periods of maintenance.
While Microsoft was "to provide minimal vulnerability support for the remaining WIN XP currently in use across the enterprise" under the Custom Support Agreement, which was originally set to expire on April 14. 2015, SPAWAR was supposed to act as a distribution point for those fixes through the Navy's SAILOR Web portal. But the CNO's directive called for all land-based systems to be fully "Windows 7 compliant and/or compatible" by April 30 of this year "or risk disconnect from all Navy networks." But it was already recognized that many shipboard systems would need support long after April 2015—both because of how the systems were operated and funded.
The US Navy isn't the only government agency still running Windows XP. The US Army recently signed a similar contract for over 8,000 devices and the IRS and many other civilian agencies are also paying for custom support:
The Navy is not alone in its continued dependence on Windows XP. The Army recently approved a somewhat smaller Windows XP support agreement extension for the "over 8,000 devices" still running XP, according to the Army's contract justification document, "while the Army works to migrate off Windows XP over the next year." And the Internal Revenue Service and many other civilian agencies have opted to pay for custom support as well as they slowly migrate to Windows 7.
As all these agencies are slowly migrating to Windows 7 it's going to be interesting to see if they'll find themselves in the same situation 4.5 years from now when Windows 7 reaches the end of its extended support on January 14, 2020.