Just like many other companies and organizations across the world, the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) missed the Windows XP upgrade deadline, so the agency will now pay millions of dollars to the Redmond-based software giant Microsoft for custom security patches.
The transition to Windows 7 has already been started, but the IRS has decided to spend $30 million (€21.6 million) from its budget in order to upgrade all PCs, but also to pay Microsoft for extended Windows XP support until all computers are safely moved to the newer platform.
The news comes via Computerworld, which shows that during a hearing on Monday, chairman Rep. Ander Crenshaw revealed that millions of dollars would be paid to Microsoft to make sure that none of its 58,000 computers that were yet to be moved to Windows 7 became vulnerable to attacks. The IRS currently operates 110,000 desktops and notebooks running Windows, but 52,000 have already been upgraded.
“Now we find out that you've been struggling to come up with $30 million to finish migrating to Windows 7, even though Microsoft announced in 2008 that it would stop supporting Windows XP past 2014,” Crenshaw was quoted as saying. “I know you probably wish you'd already done that.”
The IRS, however, claims that no computers holding taxpayers’ data is running Windows XP, as all critical systems were among the first to be upgraded to Windows 7.
“None of our filing season systems or other major business operating systems for taxpayers use Windows XP. The IRS emphasizes the situation involving Windows will have no impact on taxpayers, including people filing their tax returns in advance of the April 15 deadline,” an IRS spokesman said.
Windows XP reached end of support on April 8, but the operating system is still powering 28 percent of the desktop computers worldwide. Microsoft warns that all those who refuse to migrate could face major security risks, as their computers could easily get hacked in case cybercriminals find an unpatched flaw in the operating system.
Running third-party security software doesn’t help too much, the company explains, as an operating system security flaw needs to be fixed with dedicated patches that could block exploits created by hackers with the purpose of breaking into vulnerable computers.
Several organizations and authorities across the world have already negotiated deals to pay Microsoft for extended Windows XP support, including the governments in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.