A Freedom of Information request from Citrix has revealed that most IT equipment in the NHS is still reliant on Windows XP.
Citrix is an American multinational software company that provides server, application and desktop virtualization, networking, software as a service, and cloud computing technologies.
While this particular version of the Microsoft operating system was acclaimed at the time, the software giant has since stopped delivering bug fixes and security updates.
Thus it can only be considered a massive security risk.
Windows XP was released the way back in 2001, which underlines just how dated the NHS IT infrastructure currently seems to be.
Citrix found that 90% of NHS trusts continue to rely on PCs installed with the now defunct desktop operating system.
And data also indicated that approximately 50% of those still utilising Windows XP do not know when they will switch to an alternative operating system.
14% believed that the move to a new operating system would occur by the end of this year, while 29% suggested that the move would happen “some time” in 2017.
In order for Windows systems to be secure from such threats as hackers and malware, users must upload regular updates.
However, for commercial reasons, Microsoft ceases support for older versions of its operating system over time.
And Windows XP is now among the operating system versions that the corporation will no longer provide support for.
This means that many computers across the NHS system are completely vulnerable to various activity.
Citrix received responses from 42 of the 63 NHS trusts when submitting the Freedom of Information request.
This followed a previous study back in July 2014, which found at that time that 100% of trusts were reliant on Windows XP.
Clearly there has been minimal progress on this issue since then.
Microsoft in fact ceased support for Windows XP back in April 2014, and large swathes of public sector IT infrastructure has failed to catch up with this issue.
At this time, the government had agreed a temporary framework support agreement with Microsoft, which effectively guaranteed delivery of special security patches for a 12-month period.
But this ceased in April 2015, although individual government departments and agencies are free to sign agreements with Microsoft.
However, it is clear that Windows XP is effectively an obsolete system, and moving to new versions of Windows must be considered a priority for the NHS.