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 …

  1. arctic_haze Silver badge

    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?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. Peter2 Silver badge

        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.

        1. GlenP Silver badge

          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.

        2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

          Re: Installing from floppy

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

          1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
            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...

      2. kain preacher Silver badge

        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

      3. PNGuinn
        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."

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          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.

    2. wolfetone
      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?

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        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?

      2. arctic_haze Silver badge

        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.

    3. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

      Re: I still have two XP instances

      As long as you keep them offline, nothing.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      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?

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        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!

        1. Tromos

          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.

        2. wallaby

          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

        3. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          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.

      2. wallaby

        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.

      3. kain preacher Silver badge

        Re: I still have two XP instances

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

    5. Danny 14 Silver badge

      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.

  2. disco_stu

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

    1. Mark 110

      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).

      1. TRT Silver badge

        There's a bank in Manchester

        Did they cooperate?

        1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
          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.

          1. Danny 14 Silver badge

            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.

            1. J. Cook Silver badge

              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)

          2. RealBigAl

            Re: There's a bank in Manchester

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

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Nothing wrong with dot matrix printers

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

  3. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

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

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      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

      1. EnviableOne Bronze badge

        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

      2. Just Enough

        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.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          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.

  5. Hans 1 Silver badge
    WTF?

    Manchester plod still running 1,500 Windows machines

    TFTFY

  6. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    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.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      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.

      1. Christian Berger Silver badge

        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.

        1. Christian Berger Silver badge

          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.

      2. Warm Braw Silver badge

        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.

        1. Christian Berger Silver badge

          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

        2. TRT Silver badge

          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.

        3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          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.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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.

  7. James 51 Silver badge
    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.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Perhaps they should consult the French police

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

    1. Roland6 Silver badge
      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)...

  9. tiggity Silver badge

    "The remaining XP machines are still in place due to complex technical requirements from a small number of externally provided highly specialised applications"

    My best guess is some dismal web app that is heavily dependent on some of the non standard idiosyncrasies of IE6 (less likely would be driver issues as number of machines way too high for any hardware related driver, and for most other issues compatibility mode on Win 7 would fix teh issue)

    Though I have sympathy with GMP, I do not like planned obsolescence by stopping security patches (which is what we get from all the Software vendors, be it Apple or MS on desktop or Apple and Google on mobile, and in between makers of software e.g. Firefox that only support more recent Mac OS versions) and thus ensuring a costly purchase of new hardware and software when the old system "did the job"

    I run plenty of archaic low spec hardware - it just ends up having its original OS replaced by a lightweight Linux so I can choose to add key security patches

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There's a chance they may also be native apps coded by people who believed nothing has changed since they learned Windows programming with VB on Windows 3.0.... old installers that don't work on newer operating systems, and so on...

      1. kain preacher Silver badge

        I've have had a web cam from 2000. The installer refused to work on any thing newer then XP. Once I modify the ini I got it to work on windows 7. No problem. It kills me that people created installers like that.

      2. DropBear Silver badge

        "native apps coded by people who believed nothing has changed"

        Wait, what? When did we stop using FoxPro under DOS...?!?

  10. fran 2
    Coat

    "The remaining XP machines are still in place due to complex technical requirements from a small number of externally provided highly specialised applications,"

    Freecell?

    1. David 132 Silver badge
      Happy

      As in, "Sarge, do we have a FreeCell I can lock this scrote up in?"

    2. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      RE: Freecell

      Is that what the custody staff look for when they want to put someone in solitaire confinement?

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: RE: Freecell

        Is that what the custody staff look for when they want to put someone in solitaire confinement?

        "You're trying my Patience, sunshine" said the duty sergeant, as the suspect gazed whist-fully at the open door...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Vital applications

      Pinball.

  11. chivo243 Silver badge
    Headmaster

    'abandonware' with no comparable equivalent available

    Ah, yes, those mission critical apps that haven't seen a developer in many a moon.

    Who is responsible for apps that fall in this category? The entity who bought it, or the developer who kicked it loose like a red-headed step-child?

    Pedant as he is wondering too...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Windows XP

    I'm still running Windows XP, although I keep meaning to upgrade from SP2 to SP3. Maybe I'll get to it in a year or two. Hey, it still does what I need, and does it quite well, without all of the bloat that Vista/7/8/10 imposes. If it ain't broke, then don't fix it.

    Anon Y. Mous

    P.S. I've never been hit with a virus on that machine, mainly due to two layers of firewall protection, NAT, and careful operation of the machine (e.g., Flash is disabled.). But, I still back it up regularly, just because disks can crash unexpectedly.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Windows XP

      You described my situation almost perfectly.

      At least, that was my situation until a little while ago. As well as your observation about disks failing, I'll add my own observation that surge protectors don't remain as effective as you think they are.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Windows XP

      I admit: I still run XP behind NAT and a firewall and I've cloned it between PC new builds since 2004. It damned well works with all my old software and it's damned useful - I have Windows 7 on another partition but I never use it.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thank heavens for Trump and May.

    They will do the right thing in difficult circumstances.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Thank heavens for Trump and May.

      Thanks I needed a laugh!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    XP? That's nothing, here, hold my motherboard ...

    Two years ago there was a Major Govt. Dept. keeping a WinNT4 machine limping along because the software only run under WinNT4 and nothing else. They needed the data for compliance reasons and the least risk and cost option was to keep it ticking over for as long as possible until the compliance window closed. If it died then I am sure that someone could reverse engineer the database, but that was ldeemd to be "too expensive until absolutely necessary".

    It's probably still there.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: XP? That's nothing, here, hold my motherboard ...

      i worked at a school with a boiler system running on NT4. it would have needed a full boiler refit. due to needing a parallel port dongle it wasnt VMd. there were 3 cold clones of the system when i left just in case 1 failed....

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: XP? That's nothing, here, hold my motherboard ...

        A boiler that needed a full windows computer to make it go? Sheesh. Somebody got sold a bills of goods on that one.

  15. wyatt

    Interesting that Police Scotland didn't respond to the FoI request that the BBC submitted, wonder why that was..

    1. druck Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      The Met are also refusing to fess up to how many of the 35,640 XP boxes they had 2 years ago are still being used. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-41306321

  16. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    "The remaining XP machines are still in place due to complex technical requirements from a small number of externally provided highly specialised applications," a spokeswoman told the BBC."

    i read as:

    "The remaining XP machines are still in place due to an incredible lack of foresight and standards on the part of the teenager who wrote the system as his 6th form project"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I read that as being code for: we have a number of highly secure systems (ie. rated at Secret and/or higher) that are also used to access the services of other agencies.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still using XP

    The machine I am writing this on is running Windows 7, but my other work machine still runs XP. With that said, it's also on a completely air-gapped network with very strict data ingress rules.

    There are plans for that network to be updated to W7 at some point, but there are also good reasons for keeping the state of that network consistent until the current work being done on it is completed.

    Somewhere buried in one of the HW labs is an Archimedes - also stand-alone, the worry there is that it is the only machine capable of running bespoke software to perform hardware testing for refurbished components we work with. If it were to fail...

    Point is, there is still a valid reason for some legacy H/W and S/W, as long as the correct protection is in place.

    Anything connected to the internet however? I'd be wary.

    1. Dave Lawton

      Re: Still using XP

      There are replacements for your Arc,

      Titanium/RapidO Ti - http://www.rcomp.co.uk/ http://www.cjemicros.co.uk/ http://www.elesar.co.uk/

      ARMX6/RapidO Ig - http://www.rcomp.co.uk/ http://www.cjemicros.co.uk/

      RasberryPi - As above + https://www.raspberrypi.org/

      And a good few others, just (google) RISCOS hardware.

      Apologies for not mentioning all the others by name.

  18. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Ahhh...

    The old "security concerns" defence. Anyone fancy raising an FOI to find out what these concerns actually relate to?

  19. P.B. Lecavalier

    RE: complex technical requirements

    "complex technical requirements from a small number of externally provided highly specialised applications"

    So I guess they are talking about stuff made with VB6 that does not work nicely past XP. Or would it be one of Pascal or COBOL? Let me guess, they "acquired" the license to use that software, but the provider ceased to exist ages ago.

    Listen, in France, they developed GendBuntu to get the police to move from XP to Linux. How about they get in touch???

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: RE: complex technical requirements

      VB6 works fine in w7 and w10 you register the OCX manually.

    2. EnviableOne Bronze badge

      Re: RE: complex technical requirements

      NHS are trying NHSbuntu is comming along slowly

  20. shawnfromnh

    Just hire someone to outfit the entire thing with Linux and port over the applications. It may cost but in the long run it'll be cheaper since no MS licenses anymore.

    1. P.B. Lecavalier

      RE:

      And I'm sure that they will be keen to rewrite things heavily grounded in proprietary technologies like .NET, just to enforce a stronger enslavement.

    2. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Just hire someone to outfit the entire thing with Linux and port over the applications. It may cost but in the long run it'll be cheaper since no MS licenses anymore.

      Noble sentiments, but have you given any thought to how much that would cost? Have you any idea how many machines would need to be swapped from one OS to another, how many applications would need to be ported, how many of those applications are proprietary/closed-source? The obstacles and costs for "just" doing that would be eye-watering, and way beyond the budget of any cash-strapped public sector organisation.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Noble sentiments, but have you given any thought to how much that would cost?

        But, but, Boris says post-March 2019, we will have £350m a week to play with...

  21. AnoniMouse

    Oh, the arrogance of vendors

    >> lead malware man at Malwarebytes, said Manchester Police seem to be suffering from a common

    >> problem - reliance on custom applications which don't work with other versions of Windows.

    Users must realise that they should only be using their PCs for the convenience and enrichment of vendors and should take every opportunity to buy new versions of wares that the vendors are peddling as soon as they become available.

    The real fault lies with the vendors, whose strategy in respect of application / device / format compatibility seems to place users, their organisations and the purposes for which they, THE USERS, want to use PCs at the end of their list of priorities. After all, if a user's application / device becomes (or, is made) obsolete, why hey! they'll have to buy a new one. All good for vendor profits.

  22. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Happy

    GMP. Is anyone wondering?

    How you can get an "i" in between the G and M?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It old bastards

    How many of these folks saying they still run XP are the same as slag off Facebook (I don't have an account, how self righteous am I!)

    Stay in the dark ages if you want but its nearly 20 years into the new century. Idiots!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It old bastards

      err, could I point out XP IS a 21st century operating system.

      As for Manchester, give them SOME slack, they only invented the wheel up there a couple of years ago, and were still burning witches at the stake the last time I looked.

  24. mark l 2 Silver badge

    They don't give details of whether the PCs are standalone or networked, but if they are connected to the PNC and running XP they would be a gold mine if hackers could get access to them.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      they would be a gold mine if hackers could get access to them.

      Cheaper than just paying a copper to copy the data for you ?

  25. martinusher Silver badge

    Upgrade cycles aren't all they're cracked up to be

    The IT department where I've been working completely bricked an entire laboratory by upgrading all their PCs to Windows 10. They're now secure. They just can't be used for anything.

    This obsession with upgrading comes from a world where PCs just run Microsoft Office and are connected to the Internet. You can upgrade these without much of a problem. There are plenty of systems that have software and peripherals that are not compatible with the new software so upgrading causes a lot of extra expense. This is particularly the case with industrial systems -- you can't keep upgrading them every five minutes (or even every Tuesday) -- they've got work to do.

    The moral is don't build mission critical systems on Windows. The user interface might be pretty but you need something that's upgradable without killing off your production software.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Upgrade cycles aren't all they're cracked up to be

      "The moral is don't build mission critical systems on Windows. The user interface might be pretty but you need something that's upgradable without killing off your production software."

      Your IT department clearly didn't talk to the people running the lab before pushing that out, and they should be ashamed of themselves.

      as far as building business critical systems on a windows platform? As long as it's built using documented APIs and system calls, doesn't require bizzare and/or obscure drivers/hardware 'license' dongles/turns the parallel port into a high data rate serial bus/ interface with something custom-built (hardware AND software) by some oddball who retired into a coffin-shaped hole in the ground you should be moderately ok.

      Also, as long as it's also still supported by the company who wrote it, and the place doesn't cheap out on keeping it up to date.

      For the edge cases, then it's time to look at a work around for short term whilst planning/budgeting for an upgrade to something supported by the vendor.

      (Case in point: my company has a large handful of tiny devices running XP embedded doing SCADA-esque system controls. I asked the vendor about upgrading the devices, and his reply was that it was pretty much a forklift upgrade. So we are going to further lock down the network they sit on as a work around, and start budgeting the 5 or 6 digit cost of upgrading the system to something that's better supported.)

      Anon for patently obvious reasons.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Upgrade cycles aren't all they're cracked up to be

      Beyond mission critical software, don't forget expensive add-ons such as large format printers whose vendor may not provide new drivers. I have several old PCs hanging about in poly bags against the day I need a replacement that will run XP or has an ISA slot for a bespoke card.

      Some software doesn't need a 4x annual revision cycle to be capable of doing the job it was purchased for. An agency as large as the Manchester police may lack funds not only for new hardware which in turn will require all new software, but also there is the cost of training everybody on what will likely be a radically different UI. Lots of those people aren't going to be very tech savvy and changing what they are already competent on is problematic. I always have to lock myself in a small room and have a good scream when a new rev of engineering software has all new icons on the buttons.

      The government (any one you care to choose) usually sucks when it comes to bringing things in-house, but the applications they need for various agencies are so specialized that it might be necessary to have an agency that publishes and maintains software for the police, fire and other services. Not only is there a small market for something like a suite for the police, each country will also have certain requirements regarding what information is recorded and how it needs to be presented. How does a private company code and support a comprehensive application that will only sell a couple of thousand seats without needing to charge stupid amounts of money for each license?

  26. JaitcH
    Meh

    Count VietNam, ATMs and Nuclear Subs In

    VietNam's Cong An (Peoples Police), CGST (Traffic Cops) all run on XP, proudly standing next to low resolution 8-bit Epson dot-matrix printers.

    Both some of the UK and US nuclear submarines also run on XP, as do older generations of ATMs.

    But since most of these act simply as 'dumb' terminals, with the heavy lifting done by main frames, does it matter?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Count VietNam, ATMs and Nuclear Subs In

      I still use a dot matrix printer! The ink is essentially free and they work for virtually forever, code is easy to read, it's utterly stress free to print.. aside from the din which one would suppose is undesirable in a sub...

      I still use XP! I hated it because it ran slowly on pentiums when it first came out, but on a Core2Quad on a brand new motherboard, it flies! The OS shouldn't hog the majority of the resources available to the machine! The OS shouldn't be the reason people have to upgrade! The required computing task should prompt upgrades not the damned OS!

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Everyone's waffling on about custom applications

    Did anyone mention that most likely these are the ANPR ODUs and perhaps a few in each control room? Because they are.

  28. hoola Bronze badge

    FOI Requests

    And this is the nub of everything, the stupidity of the Freedom of Information Act that allows these sorts of pointless requests. The Act is so misused it is not true. There is an entire industry around extracting commercial information from public bodies to sell on.

    Just Google this name to see how it is abused

    Francios Charles freedom of information

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