back to article Manchester plod still running 1,500 Windows XP machines

Cops in Manchester, England, have 1,518 PCs running on Microsoft's dusty operating system Windows XP, according to a Freedom of Information response. This equates 20.3 per cent of the total PC fleet that GMP has in use, despite Microsoft ending support for the much loved operating systems back in April 2014. A spokesman for …

I still have two XP instances

One is physical, the other virtual. Both are patched using the hack the Reg published long ago.

So what am I guilty of?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I still have two XP instances

Under common law I'd go for Inebriation if they are connected without firewall to the internet.

Punishable by 100 hours community service where you will be installing Dos from 1.44mb discs.

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Holmes

Re: I still have two XP instances

"So what am I guilty of?"

Theft, unless of course you bought an XP license especially for the VM?

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Re: I still have two XP instances

"Punishable by 100 hours community service where you will be installing Dos from 1.44mb discs."

That's hardly a trying experiance, from memory it only came on about half a dozen discs. Try doing a win95 install from floppies. We lent somebody the set once. Turned out that somebody had re-used disc fifty something as a bootdisc without marking it, on the assumption that nobody would ever want to install win95 via floppy instead of via CD.

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Re: I still have two XP instances

Psst. Make them install windows 10 or linux from floppy. Better yet try try and make them install windows XP from floppies on a Pentium 75 mhz cpu

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Re: I still have two XP instances

1.44mb discs, what is this new media of which you speak?

Try doing VMS from 250kb RX01 8" floppies! I think there were 70 or 80 of them to be inserted one after the other.

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Re: Installing from floppy

If they manage to do it then then next task should be to install Office 3.1 again from Floppy.

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Trollface

Re: Installing from floppy

Punishable by 100 hours community service where you will be installing Dos from 1.44mb discs.

You forgot to mention that disc 97 is corrupt and aborts the whole process...

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Re: I still have two XP instances

As long as you keep them offline, nothing.

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Holmes

Re: I still have two XP instances

@arctic - "So what am I guilty of?"

Stupidity for not running Linux in those instances? What can those XP boxes do that you won't be able to do with Linux with a modern wine setup?

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Linux

Re: I still have two XP instances

"What can those XP boxes do that you won't be able to do with Linux with a modern wine setup?"

I'm thinking that THIS might be a really good selling feature for a commercial Linux: 100% XP compatibility!

Then we just get everyone STILL running XP to UPgrade to Linux!

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Trollface

Re: I still have two XP instances

"Punishable by 100 hours community service where you will be installing Dos from 1.44mb discs "

Nah - make it hurt. "Punishable by 100 hours community service where you will be installing something like a full fat Debian distro from 1.44mb discs."

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Re: I still have two XP instances

we have 20 laptops with xp on them. they have usb access but no network drivers and word 2010 with spellcheck disabled. we use them for exam 'scribe' laptops and have no need to install anything else as they work.

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Re: I still have two XP instances

ref the XP VM thing. XP is fine on a VM as there was nothing prohibiting you from doing so, any old sticker was transferable to VM and the 90 day transfer rule was also acceptable.

Windows 7 on the otherhand is a fucking nightmare to license on VM. it is cheaper to use server. you cant use a desktop license as it is prohibited. you need specialists to get you licensed.

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Re: I still have two XP instances

100% XP compatibility.

Wake me up when Linux/wine can run Flight Simulator X properly. Until then, the MS partition on the disk is safe.

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Re: I still have two XP instances

"Theft, unless of course you bought an XP license especially for the VM?"

"Would you steal a car?" Or maybe you meant copyright violation rather than theft?

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Re: I still have two XP instances

"Somehow I think this tells us all we need to know about how Microsoft got their reputation for lack of quality."

run a decent looking desktop, run a piece of software where when you go into the forums you don't get slated for asking questions people see as beneath them, run software that works out of the box than having to dick about with....... and on..... and on....... and on .........

yawn

write about Microsoft and the penguins pop their heads out of the holes - should have picked a meerkat as its logo.

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Re: I still have two XP instances

"Then we just get everyone STILL running XP to UPgrade to Linux!"

and have to deal with the penguinistas - god help them

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Re: I still have two XP instances

Hardware dongles, serial parallel port emulation. Direct hard ware access.

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Re: I still have two XP instances

"Theft, unless of course you bought an XP license especially for the VM?"

Well, I installed the image from Windows Update on a Win 7 Professional (64-bit). It was called "Windows XP Mode". So I guess I had all the licenses I needed.

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Re: I still have two XP instances

I'm thinking that THIS might be a really good selling feature for a commercial Linux: 100% XP compatibility!

Then we just get everyone STILL running XP to UPgrade to Linux!

Nah, ReactOS. They promise to have full WinXP compatibility by 2038.

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So do we know if Manchester Police are paying Microsoft for updates for Windows XP?

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Theres a bank in Manchester with a few thousand XP machines as well (or there were a year ago - the upgrade programme was supposedly kicking off again when I was leaving).

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TRT
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There's a bank in Manchester

Did they cooperate?

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Pirate

Re: There's a bank in Manchester

Also next time you're flying anywhere, take a good look at quite how many XP based machines you'll still find around most airports (I know from personal experience Gatwick and Heathrow are included). In some cases also still attached to dot-matrix printers.

Of course they're just for logistics and cattle movement rather than anything directly related to flying itself, but it may explain some of the frequent delays in packing the herd into their tin crate to be transported wherever.

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Re: There's a bank in Manchester

XP CE no doubt- a fairly different beast. it only finished distribution this year and is being supported for a while yet.

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Re: There's a bank in Manchester

@Danny 14: You are thinking Windows XP Embedded? (which is out of support already) or Windows Embedded Standard 2009? (which is the final version of XP Embedded, which goes out of support in April 2018)

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Re: There's a bank in Manchester

Nothing wrong with dot matrix printers for high impact text only B&W printing.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nothing wrong with dot matrix printers

Nothing a good pair of earplugs won't fix, anyway.

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Anonymous Coward

I get the NHS, they have machines that need to be run on XP however I don't get the Police, why can't they run it in a VM as it's probably only software. I may be wrong of course.

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Anonymous Coward

Because you can't question the police. They are obviously right and how dare you suggest anything else.

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Anonymous Coward

Because that will cost money to upgrade the hardware/install a new OS and VMs to run this stuff on and they don't have the money to do it...

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Anonymous Coward

Inaccuracies from those who should know better

"Raj Samani, McAfee fellow and chief scientist, agreed. “The public sector is an increasingly popular target for cybercriminals. Its ample sensitive data provides large-scale opportunities to cause havoc, as was made evident this year with the WannaCry attack which targeted the NHS.""

Which is utter bollocks and someone with that job title should know better than to make inacurate statements like that.

Wannacry DID NOT target the NHS. It was set free to target whatever it found out in the wild. The NHS was one unfortunate victim of many.

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Re: Inaccuracies from those who should know better

Yeah, but it succeeded at the NHS, proving the point that the Public sector is more lacksy-daisy about patching and other security measures, and they do indeed hold a lot of juicy data

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Re: Inaccuracies from those who should know better

Not lacksy-daisy.

Under funded, under staffed and under regarded. we have 35 IT staff in an organisation of 4500 which is about 1:130. The average is around 1:20 or 1:10 in finance/Insurance.

We also get expected to do more than IT in most companies and have highly desirable data to protect.

If you want to critisize, try doing your job with no budget and 1/10th the staff and the world+dog trying to get in, along with all the consultancies that wont take we have no money for that as an answer

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Re: Inaccuracies from those who should know better

All it proves is that the NHS, like most public sector organisations, are not free to hush up instances of their IT going tits-up.

There were probably plenty of other organisations that were equally badly hit, but they weren't providing life-saving operations and didn't have any obligation to tell the world how badly hit they'd been. There is only a legal obligation in the event of a data breach. If you get all your files encrypted in situ, it's no-one's problem but your own.

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Re: Not lacksy-daisy.

I have one of those! I use it for printing out letters but it's a bit broken so the spelling goes all wonky. I suppose you could call it a lacksy-daisy-wheel.

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WTF?

Manchester plod still running 1,500 Windows machines

TFTFY

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Entirely unrelated to reduced funding by central government…

… not.

Legacy specialist applications will include drivers for specialist hardware. I seem to recall someone mentioning drivers for tasers but it could be all kinds of stuff. This should be doable with virtualised and locked down setups but that is going to take time and expertise to set up correctly. Meanwhile, since 2010 the police force has been busy shedding personnel and doing additional anti-terrorist stuff. At some point something has to give. Ditto for the rest of the public sector.

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Re: Entirely unrelated to reduced funding by central government…

The digital photo booths, fingerprint scanners, cell monitoring systems, interfaces to in-vehicle data systems, evidence barcoding systems etc etc. There's a lot of embedded technology in things nowadays. I'm actually shocked, though, by how much of the "must have legacy systems" are actually an on-the screen form drawn in some visual basic like interface designer that relies on IE6 foibles to work. I always get a little buzz when I see something like in a shop where they tab through a VT-100 style interface and get an immediate response from some big back end system. No reliance on any real local processing, no reliance on Windows or Microsoft libraries for the actual leg work... I mean, it's how it should be, right? It's going to keep working forever, practically. It could work with a VT-100 CRT display and an ethernet card, or with a VT-100 emulator on Windows XP, or on a Windows 7 , or Win 10 or a VT-100 emulator on a Raspberry Pi stuck under the counter. It just keeps going because you're asking so little of it.

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Re: Entirely unrelated to reduced funding by central government…

"I mean, it's how it should be, right? It's going to keep working forever, practically."

Well that's a general trend in IT and perhaps other areas. Why make something simple when you can make it more complicated? If course we'd be better off if we ran business systems of text-mode interfaces. However in the 1990s there was this bizarre trend towards Windows and "distributed computing", since suddenly PCs were cheaper than terminals, and Unixoid systems were more expensive than a computer running Windows 95. Also there was a time when Unixoid systems were seen as "lagging behind". Of course with Linux and *BSD this has changed a lot.

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Re: Entirely unrelated to reduced funding by central government…

I mean, it's how it should be, right?

Not unless you consider it a good use of the "big back end system" to be taking an interrupt for every character typed and keeping a map of the screen contents so that it can redraw it when the noisy and unreliable async connections suffers a parity error. And, indeed, be intimately bound to the minutiate of the user interface.

The whole point of multi-tier systems is for each layer to do what it does most efficiently and appropriately in such a way that it can be swapped out without the adjacent layers noticing if and when it becomes necessary.

If you're going to implement code with hard-to-maintian and short-lived technology, it's at least marginally better that it isn't built into the back-end logic too.

Incidentally, since you mention VT-100s and their ilk, the terminal driver was the most complex part of the RSX operating system and even minor patches tended to cause chaos as nearly every character-based UI depended on some undocumented behaviour or another and would break randomly if something changed. That's the downside of monolithic systems.

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Re: Entirely unrelated to reduced funding by central government…

"Not unless you consider it a good use of the "big back end system" to be taking an interrupt for every character typed and keeping a map of the screen contents so that it can redraw it when the noisy and unreliable async connections suffers a parity error."

a) There's ethernet now, as well as port concentrators.

b) The redrawing is done by ncurses, which is still magnitudes simpler than most web frameworks

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Re: Not unless you consider it a good use of the "big back end system"

"...and appropriately in such a way that it can be swapped out without the adjacent layers noticing if and when it becomes necessary."

I would not consider the sorts of applications that make use of esoteric IE6 functionality or rely on deprecated UI interfaces in the host OS as fulfilling that criterion either. I merely offered the sort of very simple, very-thin client, text-based interfaces that some businesses rely on and have done for many, many years as an example of making something that has a long operational life and that requires very little done to it, if anything, when the other end, the client bit, needs to change. Changing something in one place is, usually, far easier and cheaper than having to change it in ten thousand places. As many of these "web form" type applications are feeding information back to a central repository, having excessive complexity at both ends makes things much worse.

Having said all of that, if javascript and HTML5 were to be banned or superseded without any legacy support tomorrow, everyone, including myself and my web pages and web apps, would be royally f***ed. At least I could implement a replacement without having to go and install a software package at each end point, though.

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Unhappy

The whole point of multi-tier systems..each layer to do what it does most efficiently

Doesn't that imply the system is actually designed?

I'm not really sure how many systems (even big complex ones) are actually designed these days.

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Re: Entirely unrelated to reduced funding by central government…

BTW here's a nice anti UNIX rant from 1985

https://youtu.be/0DdoGPav3fc?t=21m45s

It also highlights one point unixoid systems had back then, since software was distributed as so-called object code, which is the output of the compiler. Obviously that's not portable.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Entirely unrelated to reduced funding by central government…

"drivers for tasers"

Yes, that was me working with a different police force. And yes; there were lots of other examples.

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Childcatcher

At the end of the day it all comes down to money. Do we have the money to replace the mission critical stuff running XP? With how squeezed the public sector is across the board stuff this like this is going to countinue for a long time to come.

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Anonymous Coward

Perhaps they should consult the French police

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GendBuntu

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Happy

>Perhaps they should consult the French police

Suspect because of licencing issues, the UK police will have to build their own distro, as if the French police supplied a version to the UK police, it would count as 'distribution' under the Linux licence.

Also post-Mar 2019, it could become subject to export controls (depending on just how much the French police have modified it to contain security and policing specific functionality)...

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