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Whitehall and Microsoft thrashing out 1-year NHS WinXP lifeline

Substantial saving on Microsoft's $200-custom support tag?

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Exclusive The Department of Health and Microsoft are thrashing out a one-year support deal for tens of thousands of NHS PCs running Windows XP.

The agreement would give hospitals, trusts and GPs across England and Wales time to back away from Windows XP and implement a newer operating system.

A deal would mean Microsoft continues to provides security fixes for systems that miss an 8 April deadline to get off of Windows XP.

The second Tuesday of next month – traditionally Microsoft Patch Tuesday – will be the last day it will provide security fixes for Windows XP. After that, systems running on the OS will face new viruses, malware and identity theft attacks on their own.

The Reg exclusively reported here in February that the DoH was in talks with Microsoft to provide custom security coverage for PCs.

In February, the DoH told us that the talks would be concluded “shortly.”

With less than a month to go, sources have now told The Reg the agreement would see Microsoft cover health-service PCs for a period of up to 12 months. Sources indicated an agreement was nearing conclusion.

Further, they estimated the contract to be worth between £30m and £40m.

The deal would see a central framework put in place, with an agreement on price but no guarantee of business for Microsoft or obligation for NHS bodies to sign up.

“It covers all of the NHS at pre-agreed commercial terms," The Register source said.

Microsoft’s list price for custom support is $200 per PC in the first year of a support deal, $400 for year two, and $800 for year three.

NHS England has one million PCs meaning if the £30m - £40m value is correct, the health service has secured a considerable discount from Microsoft.

Microsoft had pitched the off-the-shelf price high to act as a deterrent in companies taking support and failing to move off of Windows XP.

Equally, setting a one-year limit on the NHS deal is important to force health-service organisations to get off Windows XP.

Also, a one-year limit can help potentially curtail costs, preventing the price per desktop doubling.

A spokesperson for the DoH told The Reg: “We are currently negotiating a package of support with Microsoft for the wider NHS system and expect an agreement to be concluded shortly.” ®

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