​US Navy pays $9 million per year to cling to Windows XP

Reuters/Dan Chung
The United States Navy still uses Microsoft’s Windows XP, even though there have been four new versions of Windows since XP debuted in 2001. The choice to use the obsolete operating system costs the Navy $9 million every year

Microsoft stopped providing technical support and security updates for Windows XP over a year ago, leaving it in a state perilous for any institution. For those unwilling to make the switch, Microsoft provided the option of continued support for the XP – for a price. That’s what the Navy decided to do.

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There are four versions of Windows that are newer than XP – Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 and the as-yet unreleased Windows 10. The Navy has said that it has plans to upgrade to one of those by July 12, 2016, but there’s a chance it will take even longer. Consequently, the Navy’s contract with Microsoft includes an option to extend the agreement until June 8, 2017, which could bring the total bill for clinging to XP up to $31 million.

“The Navy relies on a number of legacy applications and programs that are reliant on legacy Windows products,” Steven Davis, spokesman for Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, told CNN. “Until those applications and programs are modernized or phased out, this continuity of services is required to maintain operational effectiveness.”

Davis also told CNN that the Navy’s land-based computers have already been upgraded to newer versions of Windows. The 100,000 computers located on seaborne ships, on the other hand, still rely on XP.

The US Army recently approved a similar support agreement for more than 8,000 Windows XP devices. The continued usage of the defunct operating system is not necessarily indicative of the sclerosis of government agencies. Most ATMs still use XP, as do 15 percent of personal computers globally, according to NetMarketShare.