Windows XP has long been an OS Microsoft begrudgingly kept alive far longer than it could have ever imagined. Initially released in 2001, official support for Windows XP persisted all the way through April 2014. At the time, Microsoft noted that after 13 years of support, it was time for the company to look forward, unencumbered by outdated software.

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But Microsoft is more than willing to make an exception if you’re willing to pony up some big bucks. Case in point: The US Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command recently agreed to pay Microsoft $9 million in exchange for ongoing support of its Windows XP systems. The contract, recently signed in early June, also contains a number of options, which if exercised, “would bring the cumulative value” of the contract to nearly $31 million.

According to the US Navy, they have approximately 100,000 workstations still in use running legacy Windows XP applications. “Support for this software can no longer be obtained under existing agreements with Microsoft because the software has reached the end of maintenance period,” Navy officials explained. In addition to support for Windows XP, the contract also calls for ongoing support for Microsoft Office 2003, Exchange 2003, and Server 2003.

Highlighting the seriousness of the Navy’s software predicament, IT World notes:

An unclassified Navy document says the Microsoft applications affect “critical command and control systems” on ships and land-based legacy systems. Affected systems are connected to NIPRnet, the U.S. government’s IP network for non-classified information, and SIPRnet, the network for classified information.

Not to worry, though, the Navy doesn’t plan on running antiquated software for years on end. The duration of the contract will, if all things go well, last for about a year. During this time, the Navy will attempt to “migrate from its existing reliance on the expiring product versions to newer product versions approved for use in Ashore and Afloat networks, and will provide hotfixes to minimize risks while ensuring support and sustainability of deployed capabilities.”

Translation? The Navy will get busy upgrading its systems over the next few months.

Interestingly enough, the fact that the US Navy is still reliant on Windows XP shouldn’t come as much of a shock. Indeed, they are not alone in this regard. These days, a surprising number of work environments still remain beholden to Windows XP because the process of upgrading to a more modern OS without interrupting important workflows remains cost prohibitive.

Speaking to this point, just a few months ago, we reported that Windows XP, astonishingly, still has more users than Windows 8.

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