Computers used by the United States Navy are still running the 14-year-old Windows XP operating system.
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After debuting in 2001, Windows XP stopped receiving technical support from Microsoft more than 12 months ago. At the time, 29% of computers in the world were running the system, placing it second to Windows 7 in terms of popularity.
Those computers which continue to run Windows XP are more vulnerable to malware and viruses due to the lack of available software fixes. It would seem logical to update the system to a more recent version of Windows, but Microsoft does offer the option to pay for continued Windows XP updates.
The Navy is one organization which has decided to take up the option, and pays $9 million per year to do so. A planned upgrade is expected before July 12, 2016, but it may be delayed. If the agreement to continue running Windows XP is extended until June 8 2017, the Navy would end up paying $31 million for the privilege of using a long outdated system.
Sea-based systems awaiting upgrade
“The Navy relies on a number of legacy applications and programs that are reliant on legacy Windows products,” said Steven Davis, spokesman for Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command. “Until those applications and programs are modernized or phased out, this continuity of services is required to maintain operational effectiveness.”
Davis told CNN that every land-based Navy computer now runs a more up-to-date version of Windows, however those systems which operate at sea still need to be upgraded. Almost 100,000 computer systems are currently on board Navy ships and submarines.
The U.S. Army also has a similar agreement with Microsoft, ensuring technical support for over 8,000 devices which still run Windows XP. 15% of computers around the world still run Windows XP, as do the vast majority of ATMs. The process of upgrading those computers which operate in ships, submarines and vehicles could be a long one, but paying to use an outdated operating system does not seem like the best use of taxpayer money.