Agencies are still paying Microsoft millions to support old systems

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Agencies are still paying Microsoft millions to support old systems

Windows XP, Server 2003, SQL Server 2005 still in use.

A handful of federal and state government agencies are still forking out millions to Microsoft to support long end-of-life products like Windows XP and Server 2003.

Some government departments have struggled to migrate off Microsoft products that went end-of-support as early as April 2014.

The federal Defence department recently handed over another $2.8 million to Microsoft to keep its instances of Windows XP supported for a further two years to June 2018, iTnews can reveal.

Windows XP was made end-of-life in April 2014.

Defence’s struggles with its sprawling application set are no secret; the government’s first principles review of the agency in 2015 found “waste, inefficiency and rework” in Defence’s IT environment that the department said had resulted from “systemic underinvestment” IT.

The agency has been working to streamline its 2500+ strong application set and remediate “outdated and in some cases obsolete systems” inhibiting its day-to-day operations.

Defence CIO Peter Lawrence recently told iTnews the agency had managed to slim its desktop application set down by a third, and reduce the number of server apps by about 25-30 percent, so far.

Alongside continuing Windows XP support, Defence also recently spent $2.6 million for another year of custom support for SQL Server 2005, which Microsoft stopped supporting in April last year.

The federal Finance department - which handled procurement of Microsoft licences across whole-of-government until it handed over that responsibility to the DTA in May - also in April paid $2.8 million for a second year of custom support for SQL Server 2005.

The DTA told iTnews it was working towards finalising another whole-of-government agreement for Server 2003 custom support. That product became end-of-life in 2015.

It said it hasn't signed up for another year of Windows XP custom support; the last contract expired in April. The DTA also said it hasn't purchased any other custom support from Microsoft so far this year.

It’s not just federal agencies struggling to extricate themselves from old systems - Victorian shared services agency CenITex recently forked out $2.5 million to extend custom support for Server 2003 for another year, until July 2018.

The contract covers CenITex's internal government customers as well as Victoria Police.

A spokesperson for the agency said while some agencies were still reliant on Server 2003, a “focused program of migration” had reduced this number over the past three years.

“This number will drop further over the coming year through a range of projects planned to retire applications or migrate them to supported platforms,” the spokesperson said.

CenITex said it bundled Victoria Police into the deal to secure a lower overall cost for the state government.

Victoria Police was able to avoid the cost of another year’s custom support fees for Windows XP in 2016 by upgrading to Windows 7.

Update 18/8/18: The DTA has signed a $4.2 million whole-of-government contract for Windows Server 2003 support.

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