Met Police laggards still have 18,000 Windows XP machines in use

Never fear – they're moving to, er, Windows 8.1 instead

Windows XP Professional. Copyright 1985-2001 Microsoft Corporation

Thousands of Metropolitan Police computers are still running Windows XP more than a year after the force promised to upgrade them, mayor Sadiq Khan has admitted in response to a Greater London Assembly question.

Moreover, just eight police machines in the UK capital are running Windows 10, the latest version of the operating system.

Of the Met’s 32,751 desktop and laptop computers, 18,000 are still running Windows XP. The force originally set itself a target of March, 2016 to get them all onto Windows 8, a target that has vanished into the cold case files of history.

Though the force appears to have met its revised target of getting 14,000 machines running Windows 8.1 – 14,450 are now running the OS – another 2,458 are still running XP, 7, 8.1 and 10. These are said to not be networked, and police sysadmins are apparently unable to separate out which ones are running what.

It appears that several thousand machines have also been junked: in August last year the force had 35,640 on charge.

Steve O’Connell, the Conservative London Assembly spokesman for policing and crime, said in a statement: “The Met is working towards upgrading its software, but in its current state it’s like a fish swimming in a pool of sharks. It is vital the Met is given the resources to step up its upgrade timeline before we see another cyber-attack with nationwide security implications.”

Yesterday afternoon that exact scenario came to pass as the "NotPetya" ransomware wreaked havoc across large chunks of the globe just weeks after the WannaCry/WannaCrypt ransomware locked up, amongst other things, the NHS. Another government department, the Ministry of Defence, has come under fire for installing XP aboard the Royal Navy’s brand new aircraft carrier.

Police chiefs planned to bypass Windows 7 and go straight to 8 in 2014, when the “escape from XP” plan, codenamed Next Generation Desktop, was first hatched. Since then the force has dragged its heels, in spite of Microsoft ending general support for XP three years ago.

The situation is better with Windows 8; although mainstream support for the OS comes to an end on 9 January, 2018, it will still get security updates for five years after that. Extended support for the OS ends January 10 2023.

We have contacted the Met for comment and will update this article if it replies. The force has consistently stonewalled our previous requests for an explanation over the years.

Labour mayor Sadiq Khan has been an outspoken critic of the Conservative-led government’s funding cuts to police forces. The news comes just weeks after Met Commissioner Cressida Dick publicly demanded more cash for the force, an unusual move for a senior policewoman to make three days before a general election.

Back in April the London mayor set up an "online hate crime" unit at a cost of £1.7m. ®


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