Windows XP migration ‘mismanagement’ costs ‘millions’ to New Zealand gov

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Nearly 20,000 computers in New Zealand Government ministries and district health boards still run on the “obsolete” Windows XP operating system, paying millions to Microsoft for extended support, reveals new figures.

Opposition party Labour MP Clare Curran has launched a tirade against Peter Dunne, Minister of Internal Affairs, pointing out a slow progress in the migration from Windows XP to newer versions, and seeking an explanation for why “millions of dollars” are being spent to “prop up outdated and unsupported” versions of the operating system powering a majority of computers across the public service, exposing them to increased security risks.

Curran claims that at least “20 ministries and 14 district health boards” – Police using 10,000 computers, Justice using 5,584, Ministry of Primary Industries with around 1793, Corrections having 259 and Defence with 73, – have failed to migrate all of their terminals to newer versions of Windows before the official support deadline for Windows XP – 8 April 2014, according to the new figures from Official Information Act (OIA).

Curran added that the count does not include the computers in Dunne’s Department of Internal Affairs, which is said to have refused to respond to the OIA on how many terminals still operate on Windows XP.

She said that more than NZ$1 million have been paid to Microsoft to continue support for Windows XP, leaving agencies with either to “shell out taxpayer dollars” to the software giant or to “shrug their shoulders and hope for the best.”

However, Dunne claims that most agencies have had their terminals migrated by April 8 and a majority of the rest have planned to migrate by the end of July and that there was “no loss of service in agencies that have taken this approach.”

He calls Curran’s claims to be “unsubstantiated,” noting that around 25 percent of desktops worldwide haven’t migrated from Windows XP. Dunne said that the agencies who haven’t migrated within the deadline, were “expected to implement robust risk management” including support arrangements from Microsoft to ensure that systems were protected and is confident that the agencies are managing it well, as the progress in migration is steady every week.

He added that migration of “more than 160 government agencies” is complex and since old applications written for XP operating system require re-development, the entire process takes time and also resources.