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London's Met Police has missed the Windows XP escape deadline

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Linux

Re: Windows 8.1 is NOT an upgrade...

"Windows 7 only has 3.5 years of extended support left."

better 'go Linux' instead, then. it will save money, allow local companies to support regional police departments, and NOT send a bunch of money to Micro-shaft.

I'm sure cops are smart/savvy enough to switch over. The pain is limited by certain distros, like Mint with Cinnamon. And you probably won't need to buy 'all new hardware' either.

(more money left over to keep cops on the street catching bad guys)

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Re: Windows 8.1 is NOT an upgrade...

I hear this all the time, left and right about magically saving money by switching to Linux, but no one ever explains how expensive it can be, or how hard it can be, to find replacements for professional software on Linux for a serious creative computer user, a company or public entity.

https://linuxmusicians.com/viewtopic.php?t=10679

The thread above points out the very pertinent fact that there isn't the consumer demand for my 'high end kit' on Linux, so the chances of that ever being supported was slim to none. That was 3 years ago, and there is still no Linux driver for my hardware. I've had the hardware for 6 years now, and there is absolutely no reason to replace it.

There is also no Linux DAW like Sonar, which I currently use, or even old Cubase, which I used to use. While there is no cost on Linux to replace the software, there is no single fully functional DAW on Linux, most audio studios are made up of a multitude of modular options. That's all well and dandy, but I like a single monolithic does it all interface, which is why I pay for one.

Unity also is still in Alpha testing with it's editor, moving my games to an alpha editor is not really an option, but of course, over time this issue should be resolved when unity gets a proper Linux release.

There are lots of reasons why moving to Linux can be very costly, especially when professional systems are involved. It's not always as easy as, an older relative who is a facebook user and can view it in any browser on any OS.

A lot of specific and dedicated hardware and software was created windows only and it is not always easy to find a drop in Linux replacement, despite it getting much better.

I do run Linux on a laptop, and looked seriously at swapping my main, but I cannot justify it yet from the Audio/Unity aspects, nor cutting easy access to my huge game collection, which only a small percentage is Linux compatible.

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Trollface

Anyone want to bet that by the time they're done migrating, the OS they'd have migrated to will be out of support...?

Where's a hamster wheel icon when you need one?

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Coat

Well, if I was going to be cynical, I'd point out that the outside contractors that are doing the upgrades would quite like to have some work after they finish upgrading to 8.1. So if they then have to upgrade everything a second time then that would be just great for them eh?

I won't be cynical though. I'm sure the contractors are doing their very best to give us taxpayers value for money. I'm sure that's the case.

Ahem.

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MJI
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For big organisations it is just a big upgrade cycle, continually replacing computers.

Sounds like a waste of money to me and I work in IT

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Is this a problem?

I mean, *surely* police systems are kept behind some sort of air-gapped nuclear-bomb-proof firewall, no?

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Re: Is this a problem?

The police force I've worked with a few times had an air gap for their network - nothing in, nothing out with physical separation of the very few machines that were connected to the outside world.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is this a problem?

And the forces (plural, not not country wide) including relatively central home offic organisations, have not.

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Anonymous Coward

It's not just the Desktop that's in trouble...

I was pulled a few weeks back for a minor traffic infringement and whilst sat in the nice traffic policeman’s car he had to login to his data terminal which turned out to a Windows 2003 Terminal Services session which dragged its arse longer than a Jack Russell across a cream carpet.

So I got a stern tell off and 3 points but decided against offering my opinion on the state of Police IT…

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Unhappy

Re: It's not just the Desktop that's in trouble...

Catching crooks is a cost- fining motorists is a profit. Hence no investment in the former.

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Re: It's not just the Desktop that's in trouble...

" ......which dragged its arse longer than a Jack Russell across a cream carpet."

LOL!

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Boff?

Bastard Operator From Fulham? (unfortunately he's from Hackney!)

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Re: Boff?

Where I come from "boff" is another word for bottom burp.

However this is a serious business and I, for one, welcome Cllr Phart and his scrutiny of public sector IT. There's always a commotion going on in the council chamber.

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Thumb Up

Re: Boff?

It is also also a word for humanity's favourite activity!

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Re: Boff?

Hackney? I thought it was Hamilton.

p.s. thats the NZ version.

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CHiPs

Traffic cops seems to be getting new cars and mobile speed camera vans at a rate of knots as that's easy income and crime stats for plod, budgets for what really matters like officers on the beat or upgrading archaic internal systems seems to be ignored, funny that......

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Perhaps not entirely surprising...

When I retired from <redacted>* at the end of 2006 there was no sign of XP coming into service, and we were still using an earlier version of Windows. This was because of security requirements, and it always took "somewhere in Gloucestershire" a long time to determine that any given operating system was secure enough for it to go into use by government departments and their various agencies.

It is therefore unsurprising that a large proportion of an operating system's life is taken up by prolonged and comprehensive security checking before users actually get their hands on it, although whether or not the process needs to take as long as it does is debateable; I simply don't know.

I suspect that any organisation handling sensitive material that others might try to steal would be roundly criticised if it rushed to adopt any new operating system the moment it was issued without trying to ensure that the data was safe.

*Not the MPS!

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Linux

Re: Perhaps not entirely surprising...

There are now on-line guidelines to hardening various popular* OS for gov work here:

https://www.cesg.gov.uk/eud-guidance

Most of the advice is also sane for business users, etc, as well so worth taking 5 min to read it. And yes, they do have guidance for Ubuntu as well =>

[*] That includes Win10, which is not so popular in these parts due to the forced upgrade policy and telemetry. But of course the guide assumes you have the most expensive enterprise edition where you still get the right to disable most of that.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Perhaps not entirely surprising...

" it always took "somewhere in Gloucestershire" a long time to determine that any given operating system was secure enough for it to go into use by government departments and their various agencies."

Its not just the OS either. AFAIK the police use an ecosystem of home-baked windows apps, which would all potentially need upgrading to function correctly on a newer version of Win$

Certainly where I work, the decision to upgrade from XP to Win7 rather than 10 was driven almost entirely by the ecosystem of desktop software that has to run on top of the OS. MS Office being one of those which makes it massively complicated to upgrade 4-5 digit numbers of end user desktops. Particularly when you consider the multitude of user-built tools which use scripting features in some generation of Orifice - which you will break with an upgrade. Tempting as it is to say bugger it and push an upgrade through, how much damage will your business sustain from loss in productivity while tools are rebuilt and users are retrained?

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Re: Perhaps not entirely surprising...

The apparent fact that they are willing to accept on their network machines that run Win10--which is forever to be in flux, and thus cannot be subjected to the same level of screening, ever, and certainly not yet--means to me that they are not relying on the OS for any measure of security. If so, that could be a Good Thing. You'd have an intranet with most of the computers on it. Then all of your internet-capable machines would go through a router, with your wonderful security software on it. A computer could be one of the above, but never both. Then of course you'd have a bunch of machines that were neither. I imagine that the head honcho's secretary's machine would have a keyboard, mouse and scanner (but not USB, CD, diskette, PCMCIA, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Telephone etc etc) and for output, a printer via parallel port. Not a single machine would have its own firewall, anti-virus etc etc because it would all be handled by the server (in the case of the intranet) and by the router's firewall (in the case of the internet). That sort of thinking didn't quite work out for the Iranian nuclear plant, but maybe they weren't strict enough (humour noted). I seem to be advocating BOFH over Boff. Maybe I'm advocating a Fool's Paradise, so go ahead, refute me please.

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What to do

Yes, of course the police should move away from ancient and unsupported XP, perhaps to the more secure win 10 where any data and all data can and will be sent direct to microsoft.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What to do

"[...] win 10 where any data and all data can and will be sent direct to microsoft."

W7 can't be trusted any longer either.

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Re: What to do

Another reason to migrate to Linux.

Any costs involved would be offset my money saved over decades,

They could easily run a low resource desktop on XP hardware without having to upgrade also (saving the taxpayer even more money)

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Re: What to do

Another reason to migrate to Linux.

As opposed to all the reasons not to...

I know little or nothing about Linux but in an earlier posting (that you have since deleted) you mentioned training. Quite apart from training costs (to which you made reference) there would be the montrous logistical problem of getting everyone trained to a suitable standard so that they could (hopefully) make a seamless transition to a new operating system.

On top of which the IT support staff would have to be retrained to a much higher level than the users, which would involve a reduction of the support available on the existing Windows systems.

On top of which the IT support staff might well be employed by a Managed Service Provider contracted to provide Windows support, and who then either charge an eye - watering amount to retrain or even make a legal claim that their contract was effectively being cancelled beneath them.

On top of which not all computer functions fall neatly into the "office" (small o) variety; there are all sorts of software (some of them major) that are very much part and parcel of the users' needs, and unless the software will run on Linux (and I would put money on that not being the case) then that function would have to somehow stop, or the software suppliers (who very often supply the software in support of specialist hardware) would have to be cajoled into providing a new version at potentially enormous cost.

The above list does not pretend to be exhaustive.

I am not writing in support of Windows or Microsoft - merely pointing out that for good or ill Windows has become a de facto standard for so many computer applications that simply assuming that a migration to another OS (Linux) is practicable may be seriously mistaken.

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Linux

Re: What to do

@ Commswonk, I would suggest you try Linux first before you express an opinion about it. In reality it's damned easy. Most people get it in no time, and so would you if you ever tried, and all by your own.

Try with your kids, they won't ask you anything.

And besides your comment is too long to be honest, I would claim.

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Re: What to do

Hi Commswonk - You're right to warn of possible pitfalls - all those could be issues and should be examined. IMHO, they're not showstoppers though:

- Linux Mint (for example) uses pretty much the same user interface as Windows XP/7. And Open Office and web browsers haven't reinvented the wheel either. If you know what you want to do, you'll find it in a few seconds of looking.

- Compare with Windows 8/10 or a tablet OS, which I believe are a much bigger retraining exercise. Though many people trained _themselves_ on how to use a smartphone, so a) they can adapt and b) they're willing to change if they see a benefit.

- I expect First line support would adapt even more quickly (where needed - see above). 2nd & 3rd line would need to retrain or skills bought in, agreed.

- App rewrites? It's been done once to convert to browser apps, and again to produce tablet apps. I find it hard to believe there are many custom or high-powered desktop apps in general use - Apart from the backroom boys (Macs & GUIs written in VB to trace IPs?)

So be cautious, but don't reject the idea out of hand. There will be an up front cost, but saving about 1K per desktop on software costs allows more to be spent on support and development.

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Linux

Re: What to do

@ tfewster

Yes, it's not about the difference between Windows and Linux it's all about making a decision and supporting it. And by doing a more in house, like training, a lot of money would be saved. Will that happen in Britain, I have my doubts. France, Spain, Portugal and Germany can, for various reasons I will not hurt anybody with. Perhaps Ubuntu could step in with some support and a ready tweaked version. The biggest gains could in fact come from training.

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How about they work on moving away from a reliance on Windows. Since a lot of modern programs are browser based if the police invested in moving there systems to the same technology Linux on the desktops could be viable , and would also work on tablets and mobiles. The cost of extended support from Microsoft for XP would make getting Mac Minis on the desks and running Mac OS seem like a cheap option. I dread to think how much money government pay in Microsoft licences.

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You assume that the police run modern programs.

Bad assumption.

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Linux

@ billat29

They could most likely fix that by running Wine, and now that Ubuntu is British the French having already done it might not be so disturbing. All that is needed is somebody at the top who can make a decision and can stand up to Microsoft.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Meh

Well, the wheels just fell of my W10AU box so IMHO, there are *worse* things they could be doing with IT...

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Anonymous Coward

It's now August..

..and May is long gone..

no, wait a minute she's at the top!

surely things may change for the better?

I ruddy doubt it..

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Happy

Scotland Yard not alone - most of VietNam's Governments, too

The Cong An, aka Peoples Police, is responsible for doing Copyright Checks - an annual fiasco where they announce the checks are coming, even posting a schedule of victims. These companies immediately arrange for sets of genuine MS product to be motorcycled from one enterprise to another , so that when the boys in khaki arrive, a pile of CDs awaits inspection.

Funny thing is, the biggest consumer of hot Windows products is ... the Cong An!

Their crappy computers can't run anything better - in fact the Cong An stations I visit to renew business permits have resorted to employees bringing in their own laptops.

Paper is a killer in VietNam, and the government must have the biggest repository of Red Ink, too.

Every household has an Occupancy Book in which is inscribed the names and ID Card numbers of the registered occupants. The local Cong An station has an exact duplicate of the book, along with thousands of others. This replication extends for all the numerous forms the Cong An administers.

They only use computers to print yet more forms ... and watch the InterNet. They are also big in FAX (more paper). Google Translate is the main medium through which they communicate with Foreigners. Google Translate has a 'few' shortcomings when translating in to Vietnamese which either produces laughs or looks of shock.

Long Live XP!

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Silver badge

I heard the met was going to get rid of windows and upgrade to linux 2.4.

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Anonymous Coward

The 'risk' is grossly overblown.

There will be WinXP VMs running 30 years from now. And it won't be a problem then, either.

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Trollface

Yes, probably there will be XP VM still going strong.

But maybe not later versions of Windows that need periodic product activation checks, eh?

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Anonymous Coward

>There will be WinXP VMs running 30 years from now. And it won't be a problem then, either.

Runs the clappers on new hardware, much smoother than 365/10 if you're just knocking out reports and spreadsheet mangling.

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Boffin

A Year ago

Still running XP was funny, quirky in a professor Baffles sort of way, but now? Wait, Win10 will do what all the malware for XP did, but built in! Now, your system is safe from less than zero... funny how that worked out.

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Dodged the bullet

I was interviewed some time ago by Microsoft to head the program to rollout the new Windows environment for the Met.

I didn't get the job - don't think I was going to take it anyway but think I dodged a bullet

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Dodged the bullet

Double bubble for Microsoft here in that they've had a fairly large team of people from MCS at the Met for some time now, and by the looks of things (going by the numbers mentioned in this article) not getting very far in terms of progress.

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For working computers follow the French government

I can't see any future using an OS that has spyware built into it.

Most other sensible governments can see a good future without having to pay Microsoft any money...

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Second best after 3.11

I can understand the love and loyalty to XP, it is the least buggy Windows OS and the second most stable Windows after outdone only by the DOS based 3.11. Going to 8 or even 8.1 is a downgrade in all points, might as well just install Vista and attach a St. Christopher sticker to ward off bugs. Not that 10 is any better, with several hover text Help info-boxes almost openly admitting that it is nothing more than a collection of spyware.

The moment 7 no longer is able to run the software I need, I will learn to use Linux or go for MacOS. Windows is only for people too lazy to learn Linux anyways.

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Bin the lot

Government systems should be using non-proprietary open source software wherever possible. Rather than stay on the Windows upgrade treadmill they should plan to migrate to Linux, like foreign goverments have done, it would save them a fortune in the long term.

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Linux

The problem ...

is not that the police is running an outdated version of Windows but the that the police is running Windows

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XP still has official partial support for several years

My patched XP box got its updates today just as normal, and there are still AV products that install in XP.

However, we can be sure that the Met. have not used the EPOS patch, and are still using the original install of Norton AV that stopped updating years ago.

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