Bonum Certa Men Certa

The NHS Stockholm Syndrome: Microsoft Receives More Public Money for Abandoning Windows XP Users

Summary: Whitehall (UK) is giving taxpayers' money to Microsoft, for software that is not even supported anymore; elsewhere in the world migrations to Free software (in the public sector) are happening

The British NHS is reportedly paying Microsoft for Windows XP rather than abandon it and move to GNU/Linux. This makes absolutely no sense.



"The Department of Health and Microsoft are thrashing out a one-year support deal for tens of thousands of NHS PCs running Windows XP," says the British press. Likewise, based on some reports, banks which still use Windows XP pay Microsoft some more. As a refresher: "On April 8th 2014, Microsoft will no longer be providing those updates, leaving your and my ATM at the bank far more vulnerable than it was in the past. The software was originally installed in 2001."

There is absolutely no excuse for this. In my daytime job we are moving people away from Windows and XP and into GNU/Linux. It is not too hard, it just takes adaptation and tolerance of change.

According to this new report [1], Vietnam has already begun a migration to Free software, but as we showed before, reasons for slowdown are more to do with malicious Microsoft intervention, not practical/technical barriers. There are similar stories from the United States this week [2,3], even from India [4] and Egypt [5]. Here in Europe it was reported this morning that "European Parliament covets restart Linux pilot" [6] and it is not an isolated report of Free software adoption in Europe [7,8]. Even here in the UK there are reports which suggest a move to Free software is inevitable [9,10,11], in collaboration with political allies. Next week we are going to give an update on Britain's new ODF- and Free software-friendly policy, which is being ignored by Whitehall on the face of it (based on today's news report).

Related/contextual items from the news:


  1. Vietnam fails to develop open source software for state agencies
    According to Vu Duy Loi, Director of the Communist Party Central Committee Office’s Informatics Center, in 2004-2005, the office joined forces with Netnam and CMC to utilize open source software for the computer network within the Party’s agencies.

    To date, this remains the largest system utilizing open source software in Vietnam.

    In 2006, the open source software on document management was developed and experimented successfully.

    However, the product has never been put into use because of many reasons, including the lack of the technical maintenance staff.

    “Five or ten years ago, utilizing open source software at state agencies was an impossible mission because there were not enough favorable conditions,” Loi said when explaining the failure of the project on cooperating with IT firms to develop open source software.


  2. US politics going open source on GitHub
    That's only what you'd expect. The 28-year-old Cole spent years as a software developer before announcing this spring that he was running for Congress from his home district in New Jersey. When we spoke to him last week about his campaign, he downplayed his experience in the coding world, but today, that experience came shining through when Cole released his political platform on the popular software development site GitHub.


  3. Your U.S. government uses open source software, and loves it
    Writing the words “government” and “open source“ in the same sentence feels inherently wrong, almost as if lying. Recent talk of the NSA, Edward Snowden, and PRISM doesn’t make the government seem any more “open”. The government carries the stigma as being on of the least “open” things in the world. If you’re a fan of House of Cards on Netflix, you understand just how “not open” the government is perceived to be. Yet contrary to popular belief, the government is using open source as a tool to improve agencies on the back-end and save tax dollars.


  4. TN state departments asked to switch over to open source software
    With the Microsoft Corporation deciding to stop technical assistance for Windows XP operating system next month, the Tamil Nadu government has advised all its departments to install free open source software BOSS Linux.

    “Consider installing BOSS [Bharat Operating System Solutions] Linux as one of the mandatory operating system,” said an order issued by Information Technology Department. Listing various aspects in support of the software developed by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), the order said BOSS Linux, by virtue of being open source software, can be modified to specific needs.


  5. Ministry of Communication adopts open source software strategy
    Developing the Open Source Software industry in Egypt will help in achieving an independent technology, providing space for new businesses and benefiting both public and private ICT consumers, Helmy said.


  6. European Parliament covets restart Linux pilot
    The European Parliament wants its IT department to rehabilitate its Linux desktop pilot. On Tuesday, the EP's committee on budgetary control accepted a request by MEPs Bart Staes and Amelia Andersdotter to dust off the Linux desktop, which had been shelved in 2012. In their amendment, the MEPs write they regret that the Linux distribution was never promoted among those in the parliament "who would have had an interest in such a project".


  7. Open source introduces Polish schools to ICT
    Schools across Poland are being approached to use open source to introduce students to ICT and software development, and to build on the success of a three-year pilot involving over 300 school children and 60 teachers. The Polish free software advocacy group FWIOO (Fundacja Wolnego i Otwartego Oprogramowania) is contacting new schools, to interest them in the "Ubuntu School Remix", a tailored version of the Ubuntu Linux distribution and other tangible results of the pilot, such as teaching scenario's and practical teaching aids.


  8. South Tyrol to increase use of free software
    The government of the South Tyrol province in Italy will increasingly turn to ICT solutions based on free and open source, Governer Arno Kompatscher announced on Tuesday. The province will use this type of software "where possible", and expects the move to save about a million euro per year.


  9. Israel and UK deepen digital, open source relationship
    Israel and the UK recently furthered their digital relationship, with officials from the two countries last week signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on digital government.
  10. UK and Israel partner on digital government development
    The UK and Israel have signed an agreement that will see the two countries work together on development of digital services within government.

    The memorandum of understanding was signed by UK government chief technology officer, Liam Maxwell, and Harel Locker, director-general of the Israeli Prime Minister's office, and underlines a commitment to exchange ideas on the use of open standards and open source technologies.


  11. UK, Israel sign agreement on open standards, open source
    UK and Israel have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which will see greater collaboration to improve digital public services in the two countries.


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