Microsoft finally stopped supporting Windows XP on 8 April, a move the company had first announced in 2008. While that might sound like a fairly long warning, some organisations are still in the process of making a transition to newer versions of the Windows operating system. The American Internal Revenue Service (IRS) acknowledged this week that they missed the cut-off for support, and will be paying Microsoft for an extra year of security patches.
The end of support for Windows XP does not mean that machines running on the operating system will stop working all of a sudden. However, the reason why companies and government agencies need to upgrade their systems is because no future security patches will come for XP; hackers and others who write malicious software can now develop exploits against machines running on XP, which will not be fixed by future patches.
The IRS - which has approximately 110,000 Windows computers - has upgraded 52,000 machines to Windows 7, but faced a shortfall to upgrade the rest. As a result of this, they will be paying Microsoft several million for "Custom Support", a program that provides patches for XP. And while this price was earlier capped at $200,000 for the first year, reports state that the company is using punitive pricing to get people to upgrade their devices.
Instead of the capped amount, the company will charge an average of $200 per PC - and the IRS has 58,000 still running XP, therefore the agency will spend $11.6 million for one year of Custom Support. At a budget hearing, Josh Koskinen, the commissioner of the IRS, pointed out that budget issues had caused this delay, and stressed that the migration had to continue, saying, "we are very concerned if we don't complete that work we're going to have an unstable environment in terms of security," according to a report.
Aside from the $11.6 million for Custom Support, the IRS will spend another $18.4 million this year to purchase new PCs and upgrade to Windows 7, at a total cost of $30 million.
However, the IRS emphasized that this will have no impact on taxpayers, as none of the filing systems or other business operating systems for taxpayers run on Windows XP, so people will be able to file their taxes without any problem.