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Microsoft paid millions by U.S. Navy to keep supporting Windows XP

By Dieter Holger ยท 21 replies
Jun 23, 2015
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  1. [parsehtml]<p><img alt="microsoft navy windows windows xp u.s. navy" src="https://www.techspot.com/images2/news/bigimage/2015/06/2015-06-23-image-15.jpg" /></p> <p>In the beginning of June, the U.S. Navy reportedly signed a $30.8 million contract with Microsoft to keep supporting PCs that run Windows XP at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, according to <a href="http://www.pcworld.com/article/2939252/the-us-navys-warfare-systems-command-just-paid-millions-to-stay-on-windows-xp.html">PC World</a>. The U.S. Navy will pay Microsoft $9.1 million a year until 2017.</p> <p>Microsoft ended public support for Windows XP on April 8 2013, notifying users that continued use would leave their computers more vulnerable to malware and hacking.</p> <p>Which is why a declassified Navy document obtained by PC World warned that without Microsoft&#39;s &quot;continued support, vulnerabilities to these systems will be discovered, with no patches to protect the systems.&quot; The document further cautioned that the resulting &quot;deterioration&quot; would put Navy&#39;s computers in danger of being infiltrated by hackers.</p> <p>In 2013, the Navy started transitioning out of Windows XP but wasn&#39;t fast enough. As of now the Navy still operates at least 100,000 PCs running Windows XP. And they aren&#39;t alone, 16.9 percent of PC owners were browsing the web with Windows XP in March, according to <a href="http://www.netmarketshare.com/operating-system-market-share.aspx?qprid=10&amp;qpcustomd=0&amp;qptimeframe=M&amp;qpsp=194">Net Applications</a>.</p> <p>Fortunately because of the contract, Microsoft will continue issuing security updates for Windows XP, Microsoft Office 2003, Windows Server 2003 and Exchange 2003 to the Navy.</p> <p>&quot;The Navy relies on a number of legacy applications and programs that are reliant on legacy Windows products, until those applications and programs are modernized or phased out, this continuity of services is required to maintain operational effectiveness.&quot; said <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/pub/steven-davis/58/618/908">Steven Davis</a>, Fleet Liason Officer at the Office of Naval Intelligence.</p> <p>Davis added that the Navy was making inroads in updating their PCs to more contemporary operating systems. Still, they clearly don&#39;t think they&#39;ll be finished until 2017. What the 100,000 Windows XP Navy computers control remains classified.</p><p><a rel='alternate' href='https://www.techspot.com/news/61093-microsoft-paid-millions-us-navy-keep-supporting-windows.html' target='_blank'>Permalink to story.</a></p><p class='permalink'><a rel='alternate' href='https://www.techspot.com/news/61093-microsoft-paid-millions-us-navy-keep-supporting-windows.html'>https://www.techspot.com/news/61093-microsoft-paid-millions-us-navy-keep-supporting-windows.html</a></p>[/parsehtml]
  2. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 2,794   +1,533

    Rather strange since the various branches of the military have their own groups of code writers that most certainly could keep this up on their own, so why wouldn't the military (jointly) pool their resources and stick with an operating system, constantly improving it's function & security? I'm certainly not above the various upgrades, but each new version of windows comes with it's own risks & dangers. The feeling of "safer" is more dangerous since the user may stop being so cautious, assuming those things have already been addressed. What's that old saying? The devil you know vs. the devil you want to know ........
  3. Nitrotoxin

    Nitrotoxin TS Addict Posts: 109   +62

    Because it's the last version of windows without NSA back doors?
  4. AnonymousSurfer

    AnonymousSurfer TS Guru Posts: 452   +40

    A company I worked for (recently) was still using windows 95 on some of their machines because they hadn't updated the software for a few OS releases, and by this point they were too far behind to just upgrade the software. They'd have to recreate all of the programs they use rather than just being able to update the old code. So instead of updating and spending their money on newer versions for new OS's, they just keep using Windows 95 until their machines crap out. Part of my job was finding replacement components for servers from 1992-1996, and trust me when I say that is no easy task.
    Phr3d likes this.
  5. Steffen Jobbs

    Steffen Jobbs TS Rookie

    It just works and doesn't require much in the way of hardware resources.
  6. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 1,785   +1,003

    If they wanted an OS that takes as little to run as possible (and stick with windows) they would have windows 8. 8 is much snappier then XP on the same machine.

    The reason that they are still on XP is because they suck at planning and failed to start the upgrade until far too late. Just another measure of incompetence the Taxpayer has to foot the bill for. Really no excuse for IT being so bungled.
  7. Nobina

    Nobina TS Evangelist Posts: 1,136   +624

    I doubt Windows 8 uses less resources than Windows XP. Maybe works better on newer machines but I doubt it on the older ones. I had an older pc with Athlon64 3000+ and 2GB or RAM and XP was much faster than Windows 7 and 8. And I always loved XP more than any current OS.
  8. bexwhitt

    bexwhitt TS Guru Posts: 321   +62

    I would normally say it was because of budget restraints but as the Pentagon does not do budgets, it's incompetence.
    SalaSSin likes this.
  9. Now let's cry foul when the Chinese and Russians hack into them.
  10. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 7,984   +2,874

    If the US navy is still using XP I shudder to think what ours is using. Hollerith punch cards maybe? Nah... can't be, that's too recent and advanced for an African navy.
    SalaSSin likes this.
  11. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 1,522   +514

    Upgrade to a much slower OS. Yes, that's the ticket. My Opteron 2120 boots XP faster than my i7-3820 32GB DDR3/GTX 580 combo boots Win 7; both machines are running SSDs, too. Yes, there have been just sooooooooo many improvements that newer OSs run sooooooooo quickly.

    You can bet that the Pentagon has its own group of hackers hacking away at XP and finding its security flaws. In fact, I bet that it is the Pentagon that is primarily driving XP patches at this point, so M$ is almost certainly getting something from it, too, although, I bet that if anyone really in the know were to tell anyone this, they would have to be shot for divulging national security secrets. In most cases, the Pentagon may be inefficient, wasteful, and incompetent, but I bet in this area they are at least somewhat on the ball.
  12. 9Nails

    9Nails TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,212   +174

    The Navy has a long (4+ years) hardening cycle for their operating systems. This doesn't work well for an OS which is released every 2 years. When I worked on some of their systems they still had Windows NT. So they're making movement. They're just a really big slow boat on the sea when it comes to updating, and proving that the updates are hardened enough to go into production. Everything has to work together and play really nice. The last thing the Navy wants is to require an Internet Explorer update during a battle!
    Uncle Al likes this.
  13. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 10,432   +801

  14. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 2,794   +1,533

    Up until about 15 years ago COBAL was still used in the primary targeting systems. While the laughter subsides I would remind the viewer that once converted to machine language, it's still plenty fast and when targeting decisions rely on accurate predictions in milliseconds, having a cute memory hog like the WYSIWYG slowing down certainly can make the difference in successful firing solutions that save the day!
  15. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 1,785   +1,003

    It's not exactly an in depth article, but here's a small experiment someone did
  16. I don't think it's always necessarily about whether an operating system is running faster or slower than and older one. It's just that they have been using Win XP and ran various important software on it for years on many computer so they knew that it works and the problems that it may have. Upgrading to a newer system is not always worth it if it introduces new problems and could be more expensive than what they're doing now by paying Microsoft. Depending on the software they use, it might only work on the older version of Windows so it's not always their fault either. Usually when a company wants to upgrade their computers OS, they usually would have to spent a long time testing and verifying all the problems that may occur for the important software that they need. Perhaps the Navy had already tested them and decided that the OS cause too much problem with their legacy software that they need? I mean, that's exactly what Steven Davis said.

    For example the college that I go to. They started rolling out Windows 7 for all students to use on the student computers a few years ago. On the other hand, a lot of the computers that are used for running experiments still run on XP. These machines run XP because the software that they use to run the machines refused to work on 7 and newer. There are a few machines that are running 7 with XP as a virtual machine though but that's because the software actually works fine with the machine even when running it through the XP VM unlike the computers that are just running XP (basically software still refused to work with the machine when running through VM). Hell, I even had a computer that runs on Windows 2000 and it has to because the software will not work with anything else and we can't just scrap that science equipment considering how useful and how good at the job that it does.
    Phr3d likes this.
  17. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 1,785   +1,003

    The difference between college lab computers and military computers is that for one, security is critical. Your school can get by just fine because people's lives don't depend on the possibility of them being hacked.
  18. Yep. That's my point. But because security is also critical unlike college computers, in the case of the NAVY, they are willing to spend millions more just so that Microsoft would be willing to continue to patch and secure Win XP. It probably because it is still much cheaper than replacing all their computers with the new OS that is more secure but may not play nice with their legacy software.
  19. urbanman2004

    urbanman2004 TS Rookie

  20. :( Sigh! Why do people not realize that Windows POS which is built upon XP is supported until 2019. If MS can protect and support XP POS then they can support any form of XP.

    Let MS supply the security updates for the military and quit worrying about a non issue.
  21. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 1,785   +1,003

    Best for gaming? Definitely not. XP systems can't access any of the newer DirectX APIs, meaning that games will look worse and run slower. It sucks having to use 5 year old texture compression, no tessellation, ect. Not a matter of opinion, XP is way outdated when it comes to running games. Windows XP isn't even supported by major devs. anymore. The only new games coming out that might work with an XP system are indie games, and even then it's a stretch .
    Muhammad Adil likes this.
  22. Phr3d

    Phr3d TS Guru Posts: 382   +77

    XP was a revolutionary 32-bit OS, and many purchases were made, based upon its revolutionary capabilities - multi-million dollar purchases. Colleges and military are perfect examples of finally being able to get what was Needed from a computer, and XP continued to deliver for 5 years time x purchases.

    If not for the 'my-way-or-the-hiway' regime, recently and thankfully fired, MS as an organization could have Easily continued to support direct hardware calls that these ultra-expensive systems required. APIs were definitely the way of the future, but if there is Not One Improvement in a customer's process using a MS generic API, why would they re-purchase their system just because some arrogant windbag(s) at MS demand that they do so. Win7 -could- have selectively allowed hardware calls and therefore Allowed these customers to upgrade their OS, but they chose not to do so, and now we're re-writing history, calling XP refugees names and arbitrarily refusing to believe that they are (very) intelligent people with a budget.

    Microsoft could have even offered a kludge 'add-on' that would firmly define the Win7 product as out of mainstream to allow those direct hardware calls, but Someone Famous within MS vetoed, effectively ending the discussion.

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