The UK government has shelled out £5.5 million in a deal with Microsoft to extend Windows XP support for the country’s public sector organisations for the next 12 months.

The £5.548 million deal will have Microsoft maintain critical and important security updates for Windows XP, Office 2003 and Exchange 2003 until 8 April 2015 – for a year after the commercial support ceases on 8 April 2014.

Crown Commercial Service (CCS) – a cabinet office department that handles public sector purchasing and commercial operations has negotiated this deal with Microsoft that will cover all UK public sector organisations, along with some educational institutes and charities.

“We are delighted that this agreement will deliver projected savings in excess of £20m against standard pricing in the next 12 months,” Rob Wilmot, Crown representative for software, said.

“By combining demand, on behalf of Central Government departments and the wider public sector, Crown Commercial Service has demonstrated the benefits of government working as a single customer to achieve best value for the taxpayer, whilst continuing to build good working relationships with our technology suppliers.”

Earlier this week, CCS was reportedly sending mails to the public bodies about this deal that would give them the chance to buy extended support for Windows XP.

Microsoft, confirming the deal, said “We have made an agreement with the CCS to provide eligible UK public sector organisations with the ability to download security updates to Windows XP, Office 2003 and Exchange 2003 for one year until 8 April 2015.”

The company also made it clear that “agreements such as these do not remove the need to move off Windows XP as soon as possible,” urging customers to upgrade to a newer version. However, the UK government has also revealed plans to move away from Windows XP in the future.

“Plans are already in place for organisations to migrate to other operating systems over the next 12 months. It is anticipated that the majority will have completed upgrades by April 2015,” a Cabinet Office spokesperson said.