back to article Windows XP spotted on Royal Navy's spanking new aircraft carrier

The Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth appears to be using Windows XP. The ship is a year from completion, so there is plenty of time yet to bin it for a more up-to-date and secure version of the venerable operating system. The Ministry of Defence is not returning our calls, but this could always be, as one …

  1. ShelLuser
    Windows

    XP or wallpaper? And.. uhm, so?

    First of, as mentioned in the article itself, this screenshot proves nothing. For all we know it could simply be a background and nothing more. Not an uncommon thing to do. When I picked up Vista I really liked one of the standard backgrounds, when I moved to Win7 the default (blue/white) gave me headaches so I got the previous yellow/green Vista background back. So if you guys spotted that you'd conclude that I'd still run Vista? ;)

    But even if this is so... Although XP support has been EOL'ed for consumers this doesn't include commercial licenses. Several companies can still rely on XP updates, after paying a certain fee of course. So yeah; even if he was using XP then this doesn't automatically mean that he's using an outdated and thus totally insecure environment. .... for now.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: XP or wallpaper? And.. uhm, so?

      Embedded XP is still supported and still gets updates.

      1. chivo243 Silver badge

        Re: XP or wallpaper? And.. uhm, so?

        @big_D

        Get your updates for the next 20 some days?

        Windows XP Embedded Service Pack 3 (SP3). This is the original toolkit and componentized version of Windows XP. It was originally released in 2002, and Extended Support will end on Jan. 12, 2016.

        But as others have mentioned, it could be just a wallpaper.

    2. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: XP or wallpaper? And.. uhm, so?

      It does look remarkably like the chaps laptop is running that screen as there doesn't seem to be a taskbar at the bottom of it. So it's more like a device potentially running XP is being used by a technician who is working on the construction, and it's unclear if it is (a) connected into the local network, or (b) likely to be left connected when the ship is at sea all ready for war.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: XP or wallpaper? And.. uhm, so?

      "First of, as mentioned in the article itself, this screenshot proves nothing. For all we know it could simply be a background and nothing more. Not an uncommon thing to do."

      .. but not on systems that are shielded for military use, as that is usually locked down as well. However, it IS indeed Windows XP. Dev cycles are very long at the MOD DPA for a variety of reasons, (some of them not so good) and approval processes move at the same sedate pace, hence Windows XP and matching hardware. Rest assured that it will all move to more recent versions of Windows, just 10 years later, so think 2020 for Windows 7 to finally reach UK field deployment :-).

      I have the impression the US is more agile.

      1. Humpty McNumpty

        Re: XP or wallpaper? And.. uhm, so?

        I'm pretty sure I recall a similar article right here on El Reg describing the newest US ships (Destroyers IIRC) as running Windows 2000 so I wouldn't count on the US being any more agile. This was several years ago however and I cannot be bothered to find it,

    4. swschrad

      for much better comedy wallpaper

      search on BSOD screensaver

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: for much better comedy wallpaper

        "search on BSOD screensaver"

        Yeah, that works great until PHB comes in, sees the display and hits the reset button.

    5. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

      Re: XP or wallpaper? And.. uhm, so?

      I have been hearing rumours about a smaller version of XP. I have no idea how legal it would be to use it but doubt the brave hearts of joke on the high Cs or C++s would be scared of something an ocean away.

      Would they?

      Steady boys steady, always be updaty.

  2. Gordon 10 Silver badge
    FAIL

    how is this news?

    I would have given you a pass if it had been a bit more jokey - but Win4War is certified until 2025 or something equally ridiculous.

    It wont stop the Nato fleet getting p0wned by Chinese Hackers during the Spratly's incident pencilled in by the NWO for 2019 but its not a laughing stock...yet.

    1. Chris King Silver badge

      Re: how is this news?

      I would have given you a pass if it had been a bit more jokey - but Win4War is certified until 2025 or something equally ridiculous.

      DEC supposedly made a similar deal with Uncle Sam for VMS back in the early 90's, and that was for something like 25 years. No doubt Compaq (and later HP) had to honour that deal.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: how is this news?

        "DEC supposedly made a similar deal with Uncle Sam for VMS ... No doubt Compaq (and later HP) had to honour that deal."

        And, unforeseen at that time, VMS lives on and the port of VMS to x86-64 is on the roadmap, with many of the well known VMS engineers involved in the work. Not by HP(E), obviously, who remain as clueless as ever. Meantime VMS continues to be available and supported on them IA64 things.

        http://www.vmssoftware.com/updates.html

        40th birthday soon.

        1. Philip Lewis

          Re: how is this news?

          Indeed. I was looking at the website the other day. I spent 25 years in the VMS/Rdb world, then I got buried in the kindergarten with WindowsServer2008/SQLServer. Oh dear ...

          I guess there will always be clients for VMS, but the bottom line is that the children in charge at most sites don't understand anything at all, so the likelihood of VMS being used on bespoke systems is low. Most of the talent in the employment pool had to leave for better pastures during the HP "reign of terror", so it is actually probably rather hard to man a VMS project these days.

          1. Natalie Gritpants

            Re: how is this news?

            If it's that hard shouldn't it be possible to train someone? The documentation ought to be sorted out by now.

            1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

              Re: how is this news?

              VMS was easy to learn. The Help system makes the ones on Windows and Unix/Linux man pages look very sad.

              on the command line it was always 'if in doubt type "Help"'

              It was context sensitive and included samples.

              20 years of my working life was spent at Dec in Reading.

              There was a big blood letting before HP and that was done by Compaq.

              1. GBE

                Re: how is this news?

                > It was context sensitive and included samples.

                And a very nice article about wombats complete with a picture which would display on graphics-capable terminals like a VT220/240.

                (That may have been the help system built into one of the VMS apps -- I forget.)

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  wombats => Datatrieve

                  "a very nice article about wombats complete with a picture which would display on graphics-capable terminals like a VT220/240."

                  Happy days.

                  "the help system built into one of the VMS apps"

                  That'll be DATATRIEVE (caps intended):

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

                  [wiki]

                  DATATRIEVE is a database query and report writer tool [ ... ] DATATRIEVE's command structure is nearly plain English, and it is an early example of a Fourth Generation Language (4GL).

                  <snip>

                  DATATRIEVE adopted the wombat as its notional mascot; the program's help file responded to “HELP WOMBAT” with factual information about real world wombats.

                  [/wiki]

                  Additionally, the user group newsletter was called "The Wombat Examiner:

                  http://dtrwiz.home.netcom.com/dtrfaq.html - includes image of wombat

                  See also (advanced users in particular):

                  https://www.ibphoenix.com/resources/documents/history/doc_295

                2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

                  Re: how is this news? @GBE

                  The picture on the VT220 would have to have been ASCII art, as the VT220 was a mono text only terminal, although it had box draw characters and other ANSI 'Advanced' video features.

                  The VT240 was a ReGIS capable greyscale graphics terminal. The VT241 was colour, although it would look crude against even a VGA PC monitor now.

                3. HPCJohn

                  Re: how is this news?

                  Wombats? I never saw that one.

                  But as it is Christmas time, I remember the VMS festive train in which an ASCII train ran round a track on a VT200 terminal.

                  Anyone else remember this, and maybe there is a screenshot somewhere?

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: how is this news?

                    "an ASCII train ran round a track on a VT200 terminal."

                    http://www.vt100.net/animation/ and doubtless elsewhere too

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: how is this news?

            "it is actually probably rather hard to man a VMS project these days."

            I'm sure that's what the agencies say. VMS is awkward for them these days because it looks like the plural of virtual machine, and therefore their search engines have trouble finding candidates, even if the deprecated form of the OS name is used (OpenVMS).

            In the real world, there are still VMS people around, and they're probably quite experienced and quite productive (and by now multi-skilled) even if they may cost a bit more than a fresh from college graduate with a certificate in web page design.

            "the children in charge at most sites don't understand anything at all, so the likelihood of VMS being used on bespoke systems is low. "

            Sad, but frequently true, with occasional exceptions which have tended not to be widely publicised by Compaq or HP. Maybe the new developers (VSI) will change that one day.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: how is this news?

            Bespoke systems running on VMS are still in use and still being developed in many places , and not just for the military. Of course they will be legacy systems that are twenty years old or more that just keep on keeping on to the annoyance no doubt of many a CTO.

        2. s2bu

          Re: how is this news?

          Now if somebody would just revive Tru64 aka Digital UNIX aka OSF/1, all would be right with the world again. Oh, and Alpha too, of course, although I guess China is already doing that...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: how is this news?

            "if somebody would just revive [ ... ] Alpha too, of course, although I guess China is already doing that..."

            That was the story in 2011. Since then - nothing significant I've seen, in fact almost nothing at all (that isn't a rehash of 2011 stories). Have you seen anything ? Might one expect e.g. gcc and/or bintools patches? If there was something in the wings, it might be more relevant than it was a couple of years ago, now that IA64 is officially deaded, rather than just undead. China's Huawei were one of the few IA64 faithful, they actually announced IA64 servers, though who knows whether (or what) they actually delivered.

      2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Re: how is this news?

        Indeed, Patriot missiles used to use MicroVAXes and DECNET communications protocols, I presume these were retired some time ago, but I'd wager they were one of the longer lasting installations.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: certified until 2025 or something equally ridiculous

      That's quite common for military and critical infrastructure (power plants etc). You can't build a new air craft (carrier), tank, submarine or nuclear plant every couple of years just because some of the parts/systems used are no longer on the market. (Or no longer updated)

      Those things are certified for 20, 30 years easily, and the manufacturer also has to make sure the supply chain for everything covered will exist and be operational until then. That's one of the many reasons why military contracts are so ridiculously expensive.

      Look for example at the Bell UH-1D Helicopter. "Some" of them are still flying around, almost 60 years since they were first built. The US Army only retired them in 2005; they've been in active service for 49 years there!

      1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

        Re: certified until 2025 or something equally ridiculous

        Try the B-52, it is still in service. I believe the last ones were built in the 60's so the ones flying are ~50 years old.

        1. James O'Shea Silver badge

          Re: certified until 2025 or something equally ridiculous

          "Try the B-52, it is still in service. I believe the last ones were built in the 60's so the ones flying are ~50 years old."

          There's at least one B-52 which has had pilots from three different generations of the same family fly it. Grandfather, back when it was new, father, son. Seriously. It's the Family Bomber.

          1. x 7 Silver badge

            Re: certified until 2025 or something equally ridiculous

            "Try the B-52, it is still in service. I believe the last ones were built in the 60's"

            1963 I believe

  3. IglooDude

    That's a great idea! I think I'm going to start putting a Win95-emulation wallpaper on my Mint desktops and see who reacts (and how).

    1. GitMeMyShootinIrons

      It'd be more convincing with the BSOD screen saver too.

    2. Jos V

      Well, a bunch of moons back a friend came asking for help buying a laptop, and setting it up. This was his first -own- computer in his life.

      I set him up with Ubuntu (10.04 I think it was), and installed the Win98 theme on it. For about a year he didn't know better than that he was using Windows. Never had complaints either. He was just using it to do some browsing and... well, browsing, with Firefox.

      Unfortunately this ended when he wanted to play this cool game he got from someone, which was a MS game. The same "someone" was outraged that he would be running Linux, so he downgraded the OS to XP.

      I never touched his laptop anymore and reassigned all help desk duties to the traitor!

      So yeah, unlikely, but not inconceivable for the guy in the picture not actually running 95.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How does the advertisement on the radio go again?

    "you'll be working with technology so advanced that most people don't even know it exists"

    1. dogged

      in fairness that's the RAF. Although Crab Air were always full of shit.

      1. RPF

        Of course the seaweed-suckers are so much more....manly?

        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-449887/Iran-hostage-Mr-Bean-branded-disgraceful-mother.html

        1. dogged

          > http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-449887/Iran-hostage-Mr-Bean-branded-disgraceful-mother.html

          I dunno about that, you'd have to ask Lewis Page. I was never Navy.

          However, 1) shame on you for linking the Daily Fail as evidence of anything ever and 2) yes, she does seem like a disgraceful mother, abandoning her kid for her sister to raise and then slagging him off publicly in a shitty excuse for a newspaper.

    2. Phil W

      "you'll be working with technology so advanced in age that most people don't even know it still exists"

  5. John Lawton
    FAIL

    IE?

    Their in-house missile firing application probably requires IE6 and Active-X

    1. Franco Silver badge

      Re: IE?

      Nah, it'll be a macro.

      It looks like you're trying to bomb Syria. Would you like me to help?

      1. Anonymous Blowhard

        Re: IE?

        Or "It looks like you're trying to bomb Siri. Would you like me to help?"

        Don't you just love Auto Correct?

        1. Smartini

          Re: IE?

          Would you like to play a game of global thermonuclear war?

        2. Someone Else Silver badge
          Coat

          @ Anonymous Blowhard -- Re: IE?

          "It looks like you're trying to bomb Siri. Would you like me to help?"

          And the buttons are: [Yes] and [Hell, Yes]

  6. Timmy B Silver badge

    Or they hare using XP in some kind of test / debug way....

    That XP (perhaps) screen is in front of other screens and has cables running off to the side of the desk. But who cares. I'd have thought that all the various parts are separate and distinct. Certainly for mission critical stuff.

    I find it quite interesting that they are running Windows at all. I may really love windows but I would want all of my systems on a battle ship running on something where I have full and unfettered access to the source code. After all I may get my banking hacked, etc. but I'm unlikely to start a war with windows!

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: Or they hare using XP in some kind of test / debug way....

      "but I'm unlikely to start a war with windows!"

      Don't be silly. That ones been running for years right here. See icon :-)

  7. m0rt Silver badge

    Blue screen of, quite literally, death!

    "No. 1, please enter this firing solution...oh bugger!"*

    * I have no idea what would really be said in these circumstances. In case you didn't realise.

  8. Grikath Silver badge
    Devil

    umm yeah...

    And what they show on the screens *publicly* would bear any connection to Reality™ of course.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: umm yeah...

      What? You mean like a password on screen during a TV news report?

      (I would provide a link but my Google-Fu has Google-gone)

  9. wolfetone Silver badge
    Coat

    The Royal Navy seem to be all at sea with their choice of operating system.

    Don't they?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm slightly surprised they're not still running Windows NT.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Coat

        Windows NT

        That's Naval Technology, right?

        (the oilskin one, thanks)

      2. davidp231

        "I'm slightly surprised they're not still running Windows NT."

        For all intents and purposes, they are. It's just not so obvious anymore. </pedant>

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Coat

      I'd have expected Naval computers to run SeaP/M.

  10. MrWibble

    On the other hand

    At least they didn't have any passwords on display in the news item

  11. Mikel

    Replacement

    >so there is plenty of time yet to bin it for a more up-to-date and secure version of the venerable operating system.

    Of course. Because a new version is the only available option, right?

    In related news, they are getting even more desperate to get their "upgrade" numbers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Replacement

      Certified for the uses the Navy are putting it to?

      Before the ship actually goes Active?

      Yeah. It probably is.

      (If you want to submit your favourite OS for certification by the MoD, please be aware that they will charge you money for doing so. A lot of money. This is why most F/OSS projects are not certified and probably never will be).

      Oh dear, did your bubble pop? How sad.

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Replacement

        I'd be inclined to wait until Windows finally sinks and wait for them to come begging for something usable - probably the descendant of some for of BSD (and probably 'owned' by apple). They'd not pay, but might insist on their flagship pop idol to do a music vid on the maindeck.

        cue the sailors hornpipe and fetch the nurse with my meds.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Replacement

        If you want to submit your favourite OS for certification by the MoD, please be aware that they will charge you money for doing so. A lot of money. This is why most F/OSS projects are not certified and probably never will be

        .. yet there is a device which incorporates OpenOffice because MS Office could not be screened sufficiently. In truth, this is one of those creative barriers put up by all that feeds off the military funding trough - it is logical to deduct that the use of F/OSS would sharply reduce costs but it would require the many consultancies and suppliers involved to invest in building up new skills. Why go through such a profit reducing exercise when it is easier to lock the door and milk the MOD for all it is worth? After all, any war you can get involved in removes pesky demands for spend justification..

        /cynical

    2. The Real Tony Smith

      Re: Replacement

      Not only OS upgrades....

      The 'non-choice' window came up on my copy of Win7 running under a VM (I do need to test Java apps on Windows sometimes)

      After it told me that my CPU wasn't supported it then redirected me to the Microsoft Store web page so I could buy a new PC!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Romney

    While there are many many computers on RN ships doing many many different things, concerns about the use of Windows for mission critical Command and Control systems dates back to 2004.

    http://weblog.sinteur.com/index.php/2004/10/13/windows-for-warships/

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "concerns about the use of Windows for mission critical Command and Control systems dates back to 2004."

      You're out by the wrong century: http://archive.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/1998/07/13987 "Sunk by Windows NT"

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sorry to ruin the party....

    ...but it could simply be a laptop + 2nd screen running diags on the system.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great

    This will lead to PHBs everywhere dictating regular changes to desktop background images for "security".

    1. Fibbles
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: Great

      A truly ingenious way to thwart hackers.

      "What version of Windows is this? I don't recognize the theme at all!"

  15. MyffyW Silver badge

    I will concede it could be somebody with "Comedy Wallpaper", or XP Embedded POS 2009, or or it could be XP that is enjoying paid for updates...

    ...But you just know, deep down in your bones, that it's regular XP, there because someone's glacial refresh cycle hasn't caught it yet.

    Pity this passion for retro technology couldn't run to cats, traps and 3 dozen F-18s instead of the F35-B

    1. Uffish

      Tried and tested.

      Or maybe they have been working with xp for so long that they have a good idea of what it is doing and what it is not doing. I can't imagine anyone working on a serious bit of a warship with Win 10, they wouldn't yet know what it does.

  16. Just Enough

    Meh

    Just because it's on a navy ship doesn't mean it's in control of military hardware. For all we know they could have been choosing what lunch they were getting delivered from the canteen.

    And you only really need security upgrades on XP systems that are connected one way or another to the outside world. This may be on an entirely self-contained network with not so much as a floppy drive for input.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Meh

      Well, exactly. UK broadband access to anywhere outside a city centre is pretty crap. Can you imagine the data rate you'd get in the middle of the South China Sea?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Meh - UK broadband access to anywhere outside a city centre is pretty crap.

        I'm imagining my 100Mbit/s in a semi-rural area 20 miles from the nearest sizeable city centre, am I? Let's not exaggerate too much.

      2. nijam

        Re: Meh

        > Can you imagine the data rate you'd get in the middle of the South China Sea?

        Fast 4G, if you're near enough to Hong Kong, presumably.

  17. Novex
    Mushroom

    Better The Devil You Know

    XP is probably one of the best understood OSes from Microsoft, so I wouldn't be surprised if the RN keep it going just because they know how to lock it down and hence know that it's not going to be able to spaff any info onto networks (unlike Win10!).

    The only other option would probably be a custom version of Linux or Unix, but that's not so easy to support and get training for, and you don't really want your users not being able to fire the missiles when they need to...

    1. boltar Silver badge

      Re: Better The Devil You Know

      >The only other option would probably be a custom version of Linux or Unix, but that's not so easy to

      >support and get training for, and you don't really want your users not being able to fire the missiles when

      >they need to...

      Fear not - I've heard rumours that Poettering is including missile launch control functionality into the next version of systemd.

      1. PNGuinn Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Better The Devil You Know

        "Fear not - I've heard rumours that Poettering is including missile launch control functionality into the next version of systemd."

        And may both his feet be in the firing line.....

    2. bjr

      Re: Better The Devil You Know

      The Zumwalt, which was launched last week, uses Linux. Why would the Royal Navy choose XP when the US Navy is using Linux?

      Carriers are in service for at least 50 years and they go decades between refits. It makes no sense for a new ship to use an OS which EOLed before the hull was laid. You need an OS that can be maintained by a defense contractor who understands the life times of military systems. It's easy for a defense contractor to maintain a Linux variant, not so much a version of WIndows let alone a really terrible version like XP.

      1. Adam 52 Silver badge

        Re: Better The Devil You Know

        Not using Aegis, and as a result being less capable in some areas is one of tge reasons why the Zumwalt order was reduced.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Better The Devil You Know

      "The only other option would probably be a custom version of Linux or Unix, but that's not so easy to support and get training for, and you don't really want your users not being able to fire the missiles when they need to..."

      You don't devs or devops on active duty ships. You have users. And maybe a sysadmin on bigger ships. People need to know which button to press or which thingy to click on. The underlying OS isn't relevant, just that the GUI is usable and understandable and these guys actually do get training, unlike most office users.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So what

    I hope beyond all hope that ship-borne C&C computers don't have internet access. Therefore 'supported' or not, they won't be receiving updates. Or spam. Or advertising. Or all manner of other mischief.

    Yes, it's possible that a disgruntled employee could load some malware, but that's equally as possible on newer versions too.

    So, they have a standard image on a standardised piece of hardware, that's been proven to be reliable and ensures maintainability across the fleet. Who gives a flying s#1t what version it is, if they're happy that it works and will continue to work??

    1. Vic

      Re: So what

      I hope beyond all hope that ship-borne C&C computers don't have internet access.

      Nor did the Stuxnet targets.

      Vic.

      1. Dadmin

        Re: So what

        Precisely. Nor do you need an unguarded USB port. Any seemingly secure wifi access point, or even hardwired Ethernet can be breached with proximity access, the correct gear, and a determined foe. I'm assuming they are using Windows because they already have systems which talk to it and must consider them to be secure, at least in a physical access sense. And the network protocols must be a mix of TCP/IP, Windows specific, all further customized and then secured similar to SSL or another custom encryption method.

        In my scenario; the threat actor lands a tiny robot, or has the nearest operative plant a device on or near the ship, avoid detection, and then penetrate the network. Just like that. Well, then you have to either siphon off your sweet payload, or do MITM or other such network trickery, but you get the idea.

        You would need point to point, conduit enclosed, fiber optic cables for your ship network to be more secure, plus change the console password from password1 to something else. HAHA, but seriously, it's not out of the question that this kind of network can be successfully attacked in some way, with physical access of course.

        1. Captain DaFt

          Re: So what

          Lets not lose sight of the fact this is a military aircraft carrier.

          Most likely attack would be a determined DDOS consisting of missiles, artillery, and torpedoes. Real brute force hacking!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: determined DDOS consisting of missiles, artillery, and torpedoes.

            What about mines? Surely they need Minesweeper too (that's originally OS/2, apparently)?

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: So what

      "So, they have a standard image on a standardised piece of hardware, that's been proven to be reliable and ensures maintainability across the fleet. Who gives a flying s#1t what version it is, if they're happy that it works and will continue to work??"

      Last time I did some work on a "secure" PC was on a military base. Arrive by appointment, escorted to building, anything capable of recording data in any way taken and locked away (phone, laptop, pendrives etc), wait for room to be clear (top sekrit stufz happening in there). Identify faulty RAM, replace RAM, Officer tells me the faulty RAM can't be removed from site as it has some eeprom on the DIMM module. Nothing of that nature can be removed, must be destroyed. By them. So despite warranty, they pay for the parts since there are no faulty parts to go back.

      They really are shit hot at keeping stuff like that secure. No doubt mistakes are made, but I got the strong impression that they take it very VERY seriously. And they had blokes and women with guns!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So what

        "They really are shit hot at keeping stuff like that secure. No doubt mistakes are made, but I got the strong impression that they take it very VERY seriously. "

        This is always the way, it's we ground troops that work our day jobs who take our jobs very seriously as we need to make a living as we have bills to pay. It's the twats that employ us, those with fat pensions and directorships in the offing that don't give a shit about security and never listen to us when we protest, they simply don't have to care as their arses are covered no matter what happens to them.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At least...

    it isn't Windows NT 4.

  20. chivo243 Silver badge
    Megaphone

    Lock down

    First disable autorun... usb ports, physically remove them if you have to... remove all optical drives and heaven forbid floppy drives. I would go on, but my shift is about over.

  21. your_nuts_sir
    Coat

    Mine Sweeper

    XP already comes with Mine Sweeper, did they install Flight Control HD to add aircraft carrier functionality?

    1. Pedigree-Pete Bronze badge
      Happy

      Re: Mine Sweeper

      You're crackers M'Lady. :)

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The MOD like many government departments adopted XP in its heyday. Unfortunately they also developed many applications which were only compatible with XP and IE6. Even with the ample amount of notice given for discontinuation of support this simply wasn't long enough to re-develop these applications for newer systems. When you couple that with the fact that many UK government systems process classified information and as such can only use systems which have been acredited up to that level it takes a huge amount of time to make even comparatively simple changes to a system.

    All of this takes time and money, the latter of which has been in very short supply (especially in the MOD) since 2008 ish. The UK government has been stung by committing so heavily to Windows XP and its associated technologies (IE6 specifically). MOD IT procurement is another hinderance as the contracts often stipulate punative charges for configuration changes. The procurement process itself could probably be described as corrupt with many officers in thier last couple of years negotiating the contracts. It is common place for these officers to take employment with the "winners" of major contracts when they retire from the MOD.

    Government IT procurement in general can at best be described as inept.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      "many UK government systems process classified information and as such can only use systems which have been acredited up to that level "

      An interesting mode of failure here: If it takes longer to certify the fixes (or replacement) than it does to discover the vulnerabilities, your certification system actually makes the system less secure than if you just took the vendor's word for it and upgraded anyway.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Gov IT, where tech goes to die

      Anyone who's had the pleasure of working for Government IT will happily tell you that if you find any tech being used that was manufactured in the last 10 years, it was probably either a purchasing mistake or most likely a petty cash purchase for a one off job to be done by some management type who's since left and left the kit behind.

      I've worked on systems from a certain Once British 3 letter acronym computer computer company , where spare parts had to be sourced from eBay to keep them going.

  23. Ben1892

    My money is that it is indeed XP but that its the only laptop they could find that has a serial port for them to configure the system they are working on. Plus they probably only wrote the configuration software for XP too.

  24. regorama

    Misdirection operation ...

    That is to thaw Chinese Spies into investing time hacking WinXP while all the time, they are using WinNT

  25. steamnut

    No surprise at all

    I have worked on military systems and the first thing to consider is the procurement life-cycle. This project started when XP was current for sure. The second is the change environment all military projects operate in. Just to change a single typo in a message is a long and tortuous process (been there done that).

    The budget is never totally capped - it's all in the small print - so changes are stacked up as "wish list", "must-have", "red-light" etc. items. If it aint broke don't fix it also tends to rule nowadays in order keep to budget and schedule.

    Changing the hardware and or the OS will require a massive amount of recertification and re-testing which is costly. I'm sure it has been flagged for upgrade but the final project has not been delivered yet so we are into a "painting the forth bridge" situation and running the risk of never signing it off.

    I worked on Nimrod and the constant reworking costs eventually killed the project even though it was much better than the off the shelf American replacement.

    So, in my view, this is not really a story at all it's more a dose of reality for those of us that work in those circles. And now I have to shoot you...

  26. Wommit

    Nice to see the Royal Navy getting some modern equipment. Not like the rubbish we had when I was in.

  27. herman Silver badge

    I'm surprised that it wasn't WinME

  28. Hellcat

    It's ok guys

    I checked the system requirements of World of Warships and it should be good on XP.

  29. Leeroy Bronze badge

    Adama got it right.

    I will not have any networked computer system on this ship.

  30. x 7 Silver badge

    I suggest you all go back and read this report from 2009, back in the days when El Reg had reporters who knew what they were talking about

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/01/05/windows_for_warships_hits_type_23s/

    at the time "Windows for Warships" was said (elsewhere) to be a hardened OS using components of Win2K and WinXP with long-term support. If you're building a piece of kit like a warship, what you use needs to be reliable - not necessarily the newest, and also usable long term. In that 2009 report it states that the new carriers would be using the same Windows versions at the Type 25 (then new) and Type 23 (refitted late 2000's) so the navy was clearly planning then to be installing out of date, but hardened software now.

    The only problem is that the "now" has slipped..........with all the shennanigans over the F-35 development and ski-ramp vs catapult the ships are several years late - and will probably have a longer life expectancy than intended originally. So the question should be................what is the next generation of software? Is anyone planning for an upgrade at the first major refit?

  31. EPurpl3

    Why not Windows XP

    Is more secure than Windows 10, at least Microsoft will not data mine it

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why not Windows XP

      Or limpet mine it.

      1. James O'Shea Silver badge

        Re: Why not Windows XP

        "Or limpet mine it."

        Only relevant if the RN manages to annoy the Italians again. The ship's name is, after all, Queen Elizabeth.

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Why not Windows XP

      Don't know about data mining etc. I'd be more concerned about the umbilical cord of an always on internet connection back to MS that Win10 seems to need and the ramifications of that on invisibility and stealth.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And the Hubble space telescope launched with a 486, plus man landed on the moon with a 4-bit CPU.

    XP is tried and tested. So long as you don't connect it to the Internet then it can be fine for some tasks.

  33. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Trollface

    You guys don't know anything about the military....

    How can you justify spending several hundred million on the next refit if you launch the ship with working technology in the first place?

  34. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    A typical system will start life with several vulnerabilities. Over time those vulnerabilities will be found and plugged UNLESS the system is being continually updated with new features - in which case there will be new vulnerabilities being created as fast as the old ones are fixed. Mature systems that are no longer "evolving" are thus likely to be more secure than the most up-to-date new shiny.

  35. martinusher Silver badge

    ...but you can't upgrade

    Those systems are probably interfacing with a bunch of custom interfaces. Microsoft in its infinite wisdom borked this type of interface when it released Windows 7. Redoing the interfaces is laborious, switching to whatever Microsoft is peddling as the technology du jour isn't an option (not to mention it would be obsoleted by the next big thing before you got your code completed and certified) so you're kind of stuck with the Devil You Know for the time being.

    I've had the same problem with industrial code. I have a large base of code and associated interfaces that works fine on XP but the transition to Win7 killed it. I can't be bothered to deal with Windows any more since Linux not only works 'out of the box' but its actually much better supported for advanced technologies these days. Win7/8/10 machines are really only useful as terminals and even that's not cast in concrete. In fact the only reason why I have to even acknowledge MSFT is commercial inertia -- there's a lot of sclerotic management out there, people who's "always done things this way" and can't embrace any kind of change. I've effectively retired rather than bothering with them....I just can't be bothered with what is obsolete, oddball and non-compatible technologies any more.

    (You can't write complex test suites in C#. Its amusing to see people try. What they end up doing is demanding DLLs that do all the work so they can use their fave lang to just put a few colored widgets on the top.)

  36. Someone Else Silver badge
    WTF?

    The ship is a year from completion, so there is plenty of time yet to bin it for a more up-to-date and secure version of the venerablean operating system that is fit for purpose
    .

    There, FTFY

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why replace an operating system that is stable and proves to work.

    This is also a closed system and will be connected to the Internet. Some control software may not work with newer operating systems and hence the reliance on older systems.

    I worked in a fab recently and some machines that produced the wafers were running OS/2

    This falicy that using new stuff is somehow better when you have used the current software for last 10 years plus without any issues, needs to be knocked on the head.

    1. Charles Manning

      re: Why replace an operating system that is stable and proves to work.

      To keep it serviceable.

      This is the flip side to COTS hardware - it is cheaper and easier to source, but also goes out of date.

      One of my customers has a factory production system that (until recently) worked on an old 386 running DOS. It worked great and nobody was inclined to touch it.

      Then one day it stopped working, and forced their hand.

      * Can't find a replacement computer that ran slow enough to run the DOS-based software.

      * Can't find a replacement that would accept the custom ISA bus card.

      So... no production until they re-engineered the system! No bonuses that Christmas.

      I also had a similar (though somewhat less dramatic) probelm with an EPROM programmer. It used a Centronics port and DOS software that worked Ok up to 486 speeds, but crapped out with a Pentium. USB->centronics could not get the timing right either. For me it was just a matter of buying a new programmer.

  38. Charles Manning

    Much more troubling...

    Is the "aircraft carrier" written on the techs' backs.

    If they can't even remember where they're supposed to be, wtf are they doing working on computers.

    1. davidp231

      Re: Much more troubling...

      At least it doesn't say...

      "Nuclear technician - if we're running you better keep up!"

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its not XP, they're just watching the Tellytubbies !

  40. James O'Shea Silver badge

    errm....

    the name of the very expensive hunk of soon to be sunk ironmongery is HMS Queen Elizabeth. Not The Queen Elizabeth. Better yet, the name 'Queen Elizabeth' is not a lucky one in the RN. Only three RN ships have been proposed with the name. One spent a lot of time sitting damaged in Alexandria harbour after being mined by Italian naval commando (they attached a large explosive to the ship and messed it up, but good) and was never up to scratch afterwards. (The RN insists that she never actually sunk, she just took on a lot of water and had a really big hole in the side and couldn't move. For a year and a half. Draw your own conclusions.) One was never built. And this is the third.

    Worse, the other QUEEN ELIZABETH class carrier is Prince of Wales. The last RN ship with that name went off to fight Bismarck in May of 1941 with civilian workmen still aboard trying to finish things up. After Hood blew up and Prinz Eugen and Bismarck slapped her around a little, PoW bailed. A little later she was assigned to Force Z. On 10 Dec 1941 she was sunk by Japanese Army torpedo bombers out of Vietnam. Allegedly there was damage to her electrical systems, which knocked out the 5.25 inch DP guns and left her essentially defenceless. Said fault appears to have been caused indirectly by a hit from Prinz Eugen, back in May and wasn't quite fixed properly.

    Perhaps it might be a good idea to stay as far away from these ships as possible before the inevitable disaster. Having Win for Warships aboard is merely the icing on the cake.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    XP is still used in the MOD

    Sadly, XP is still used to run many things in the MOD.

    The cost of replacing loads of computers is just too much for the MOD and they've kept old stuff going for ages. Not surprised if a new ship still uses XP since its got some history behind it to give some reliability credibility.

    Just a sign of the times for the MOD strapped for cash.

    1. small and stupid

      Re: XP is still used in the MOD

      It doesnt matter. The F35-B wont fucking work anyway so the whole thing is a big fucking floating scrapheap.

      1. x 7 Silver badge

        Re: XP is still used in the MOD

        "The F35-B wont fucking work anyway"

        Maybe not, but the F-35B probably will.....

        1. Vic

          Re: XP is still used in the MOD

          Maybe not, but the F-35B probably will

          That's not something I'd put money on.

          All the early photos were of the aircraft hovering over a grate - that means it has exhaust reingestion problems. That means it doesn't work.

          Latterly, the entire fleet was grounded because of engine problems, the airframe was limited to the same pull as the (1980s) training aircraft I learnt in, and the flat-out top speed is dramatically less than a passenger plane from the 1970s...

          The F-35 is trying to be all things to all men. It's likely to achieve none of its goals.

          Vic.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: XP is still used in the MOD

            "the F-35B probably will [work just fine]"

            "That's not something I'd put money on."

            Do you pay UK taxes? Then you're already putting money on it.

            But I do agree with your point in general.

  42. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Maybe Lewis Page has some contacts?

    Oh...wait..

    1. ShortLegs

      Re: Maybe Lewis Page has some contacts?

      Well, he is working Ars Technica now

      http://arstechnica.co.uk/information-technology/2015/12/cyber-strike-and-robot-weapons-can-the-uk-dominate-the-fifth-domain-of-war/

      to read his first effort.... much in the same vein as his writings here. Does he have a minor grudge with the MoD?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Maybe Lewis Page has some contacts?

        *Minor* grudge with the MoD? There's at least one book what he wrote about it.

      2. x 7 Silver badge

        Re: Maybe Lewis Page has some contacts?

        " Does he have a minor grudge with the MoD?"

        If you read PPRUNE, the general consensus there appears to be he's anti-MOD and anti-RAF, mainly because between them they scrapped the Harriers and Sea Harriers in a deliberate attempt to screw the Royal Navy. Navy guys seem to love him, RAF and Government types seem to hate him and regard him as the evil mouthpiece of Sharky Ward.

  43. Phil Kingston Silver badge

    If it reliably does the job it's there to do, I don't see an issue.

  44. Jos V

    Well...

    The reg reported on this in 2009 actually:

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/01/05/windows_for_warships_hits_type_23s/

    From which I will now cherry-pick:

    "According to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), HMS Montrose has now entered a planned docking and refit period during which BAE Systems plc will replace her original DNA(1) gear with DNA(2), said to be "based on the system being fitted to the Royal Navy's powerful new Type 45 Destroyers". This means it will be based on fairly everyday hardware running legacy Windows OSes - people who have worked on these programmes inform us that both Win2k and XP will be in use across the fleet."

    And:

    "In addition to the frigate and destroyer fleets, the Navy has recently announced conversion to Windows in its submarine flotilla. It is also understood that the new aircraft carriers, whenever they arrive, will also use similar commandware."

    So El Reg, I guess you were right all along in 2009 ...

  45. drewf74

    Not everywhere can run the latest and greatest OS

    From the hundred or so comments on here, it seems to me that most have been made by people who are familiar with the typical IT world, and not so familiar with the OT world.

    The ship will indeed have XP and even Windows 2000 systems on it. Most of them will be running SCADA applications to control the a/c and the like. I know it's surprising, but many nuclear power plants have the same deal, as do major transport systems, or conventional power plants, or water treatment plants, or pharmaceutical plants or.... You get the picture.

    Is it a problem? Yup. But, there are reasons for using those 'legacy' systems, mostly to do with being proven to work and having been validated. Upgrading to a newer or alternative OS and patching them (oh yes, the ship systems will most certainly not be getting patched like most offices, even those running current OS installations), just isn't easy - please bear in mind not every machine runs browsers and fancy text editors all day, and the outcome when the kit doesn't work is more "problematic".

  46. Stretch

    I ran windows xp on a computer decoding cable and serving it up via a tv card. At some point the power supply started making nasty noises from the fan. I stuck a wooden dowel in the back and it ran for 6 months solid with no psu fan.

    Never crashed, never had a problem. Nothing wrong with XP that can't be solved by never installing anything on to it.

  47. razorfishsl

    How the hell do you think so many IT projects are going titsup in the UK?

    Why the hell would you sell a system that has 10 years of life?

    Sell a system that undercut your competitors by supplying dead hardware and dying OS, then getting massive fees for upgrades.

  48. Driver's Door
    FAIL

    Upgrade XP?

    Oh god no! The upgrade will break every app that you are running, i.e. everything but Notepad™. And if trying to get a stable op/sys upgrade running reliably¹, isn't bad enough, do you know what you will have to do to get really old custom software updated so it will run on your new operating system? Why would they run XP on a brand new shop? XP has been out long enough that M$ might has removed almost all of the serious bugs. If you insist on upgrading XP, it may be easier to scrap the ships and start over with a deliver date sometimes in the 2050's. 2 years to build the ship and the rest of the time trying to get the software.working mostly correctly. If you are lucky, you won't have to do anything more extensive than rebooting the entire ship to get it to recover from a system-level bug. It seems to work just fine with the F-35s..

    ¹what does reliably actually mean? How few crashes per hour of operation (CPH) do you really need? Remember cost is proportional to k*e^(1/CPH)

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