Thousands of government PCs will expose themselves to malware as Windows XP expires

The risk increases as April 8 approaches

An investigation into the numbers of PCs, conducted by The Register, in the public sector still running Windows XP has revealed that many thousands will still be using the operating system, even when its end-of-life expires.

HMRC and NHS Scotland said that they both had migration plans in place to replace their XP systems, moving to Windows 7 in most cases.

Those plans, however, will not be in place when Windows XP's end-of-life deadline passes on April 8. Microsoft offer a subscription service for companies still on its old operating system to receive relevant security updates. HMRC, nor NHS Scotland, however, will pay for this protection.

NHS England, however, when asked how many of the 1 million PCs and laptops at trusts, GPs and hospitals run Windows XP, answered that they simply do not know. Each GP, hospital and trust region is treated as a separate entity, and therefore NHS England do not know how much of their IT infrastructure may be vulnerable after April 8.

"Acutely aware" of missing the deadline

Application migration specialist Camwood, heavily involved in helping customers move from Windows XP, said that it has several "large" customers paying Microsoft for support after 8 April rather than go without protection.

"It was cheaper for them to pay Microsoft than to accelerate migration," Camwood chief executive Adrian Foxall told The Register.

Despite the fact Windows XP support is due to finish in three months, Camwood is still picking up new business from organisations in the public sector to start migrations, it says – many of them within the NHS.

"We are still winning new projects now. They will miss the deadline and they are acutely aware of that," Foxall said.