After 11 years of service and support, Microsoft recently ended support for Windows 7. While users still can continue to use Windows 7, it would leave their PC vulnerable to security risks, as Microsoft is no longer administering any security or software updates or tech support.
Despite plans to upgrade all its PCs to Windows 10 by the end of January, the NHS has been unable to meet this target. Nearly half a million NHS devices, out of 1.37 million, are still running Windows 7.
The UK’s Department of Health and Social Care signed a deal with Microsoft last April, which granted free upgrades for all NHS devices to Windows 10. There was one condition, however, which was to do so before the end of January.
This time has passed, yet 463,784 PCS are still running Windows 7, and a further 318,000 machines are running versions of the OS without Microsoft’s active threat protection extended support- which puts the systems at even greater risk.
“There is support from Microsoft for devices using Windows 7, in all NHS organisations, until 14 January 2021. Migration to Windows 10 is a process which will differ depending on the specific needs of the organisation. We are working closely with the NHS to offer support to migrate to Windows 10 and are on target to complete this before the extended support period ends,” -NHS Digital.
The inability to update the NHS’s PC network to a supported operating system, despite years of notice, draws into question whether the NHS has learned anything from the Wannacry attack of 2017, and whether they take their data protection responsibilities seriously. At worst the health service is opening itself up to another similar attack, which seriously impacted its ability to deliver services, and at best it is wasting money paying Microsoft for expensive extended support for Windows 7 which could be spent on patient care.
Hopefully, the NHS will get their house in order and secure their systems before another disaster strikes.