The Department of Health (DoH) has asked Microsoft to provide further support to the NHS to prevent its PCs running the outdated Windows XP being targeted by hackers.
“We are discussing plans with Microsoft for putting in place a migration plan and extended support for the NHS,” a DoH representative told IT news site, The Register, as part of its exclusive report.
The IT giant released Windows XP in 2001 and will be discontinuing updates for the OS on April 8th, after which any holes in security will no longer be patched.
According to Microsoft, this leaves PCs running the system at risk - with huge implications for bodies like the health service that hold large amounts of sensitive data.
Despite this, it has been revealed that the NHS will not have completed the migration of its systems to an alternative OS by the April deadline.
Currently, NHS IT systems like the Patient Administration System and Choose and Book are only compatible with a Windows XP browser and so would definitely need to be upgraded to work with a new OS.
The DoH claims the work to port NHS code to a more modern OS began nine months ago, however, Microsoft announced the April 2014 deadline back in 2012, giving organisations two years to prepare. The NHS claims the delay has been caused by hold-up in updating its essentials apps to work with Windows 7.
Reports claim this failure to meet the cut off date will come at a large cost to the taxpayer: special protection starts at $200 (approx. £120) per computer in the first year alone, with prices jumping to $400 (approx. £240) in the second year and $800 (approx. £480) in the third. It is not known how many PCs will need to be protected by the support extension, but it is likely to be considerable believe commentators.
However, the Health Service claims that the cost of moving to a more modern OS has benefits that will ultimately be more cost-effective than not seeking support at all.