20% of Manchester police systems run Windows XP


Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/09/20/overnumerousness.html


Granted, such unsupported OSs are only really insecure to the outside on a network if not properly firewalled. I bet there are still municipal facilities still running Windows 98 and OS/2!


Maybe they just couldn’t open the FOIA request yet, I hear IE6 sometimes chokes on large PDFs with embedded signatures…


“Hard on the outside, squishy on the inside.”
Oh, the quaint illusion of a perimeter.


“The remaining XP machines are still in place due to complex technical requirements from a small number of externally provided highly specialised applications,” a spokeswoman told the BBC.

Translation: they bought (likely very expensive) applications many years ago from vendors who are too lazy/greedy to upgrade them to news OSs (assuming the vendors even exist anymore). It’s not necessarily the fault of the current IT staff, but it does emerge from an organisational culture that doesn’t take IT security seriously.


I am on a mac running parallels at work, and it uses Win XP. Reason is the cost for new licenses and upgrading the software we us on it. Less than ideal, but it works.


It’s a vendor lock situation. They chose a closed source commercial OS with robust licensing strategies and have built their systems upon that technology. Their choice does not allow them to fix the problems they have due to licensing issues and now that it’s time to upgrade those licensing costs and upgrade incompatibilities have come back to bite them on the ass.


Very likely. It would be interesting to get an inventory of what the machines are actually used for. In some cases, such as a system that is part of a DNA sequencer in a crime lab, there may have been little in the way of choice to begin with.


Definitely. My time spent in Hospital IT showed me that many vendors choose embedded XP systems for their equipment but not all of them. Since the number is 20%, that doesn’t seem to be the likely issue however.


The rest run Sinclair Spectrums?


I don’t see what the big deal is really. I mean, just throw a Voodoo 3 in there and you’ll be blasting mofos in Dark Forces in no time.


A mighty sublime machine that was. Great for games, not so much for running police IT.


I would humbly suggest that Greater Manchester Police has more pressing issues than operating systems. Their budget has been slashed by 7 years of austerity, their recruitment numbers are way down, spice addiction and homelessness are everywhere, and some areas are sliding back in the '90s ghetto culture everyone hoped to have left behind.

I personally find it pretty good that 80% of the computers they have do not run 98/2000/XP.


They probably contracted Capita/Serco/G4S/[anyone else who does government work that I missed] to do the job for them, who then outsourced the work to someone else.


95% of the world’s ATMs are still running embedded XP. This is a global problem and one that we will be dealing with for many years to come.


…There also may be files that are in proprietary formats that need to be accessed. Old case files for cases that are still unsolved, evidence inventory control records, computer files seized as evidence etc. Much of that must be maintained and accessed in a way that complies with evidentiary rules that not the slightest change can be made to them.

And, as others have pointed out, there may be specialized hardware that runs XP.


IIRC, until not so very long ago many ATMs were still running OS/2 (in UK) so one wonders about the other 5%.


No need to worry, the Tories are the party of Law & Order so no doubt they will apply their famous grasp of IT security and hope the criminals are nice people…


Agreed. I have some clients who are stuck running XP to keep old mission-critical apps running long after the vendors vanished. Even so, 20% is a high number for a vintage 2001 OS whose mainstream support ended more than 8 years ago and whose extended support ended in 2014. That wouldn’t account for a few airgapped machines in the evidence locker and some embedded systems.


“The remaining XP machines are still in place due to complex technical requirements from a small number of externally provided highly specialised applications,” a spokeswoman told the BBC.

Usually means they were hard coded to only run with that version of software.

I am retired from the Federal government and we once had a critical system that required a particular version of Internet Explorer to run. Not “This version or newer” but “this version only”.

When contacted the developer all I got was 'The contract called for it to work with iE x and that’s what we provided." I suspect they did it knowing they could then get a good chunk of change for “upgrading” the application by changing that one line of code.

(Dang thing was hard coded as to screen resolution too…stupidest thing I’ve ever seen. No need whatsoever for that and it totally ignored all of Microsoft’s rules for windowing programs.)