The UK government has paid more than £5m to Microsoft to extend Windows XP system support for governmental services.
The 12-month extension will enable thousands of computers within the public sector to be upgraded gradually without jeopardising the services.
Starting on 8 April, Microsoft won't be providing any security updates to Windows XP users, outside of pre-negotiated contracts, meaning all computers not upgraded to a newer version of the Windows operating system will be at high risk of getting infected by viruses or being attacked by hackers.
As the support ends, thousands of NHS computers are believed to still be running the obsolete software. In September 2013, eHealth Insider estimated 85 per cent of NHS’s 800,000 computers were still using Windows XP while only 1 per cent was already upgraded to the newest Windows 8.
"We have negotiated an agreement with Microsoft to maintain critical and important security updates for Windows XP, Office 2003 and Exchange 2003 for 12 months beyond 8 April 2014 when support for these systems expires,” a statement on the Crown Commercial Service website, an agency within the Cabinet Office, said.
"This is a vital deal which will provide continuity during migration onto alternative operating systems. For those organisations that remain on these legacy products, this deal supports the information assurance requirements."
The deal will ensure that public sector computers will continue to receive security updates for the software until April 2015, securing them against possible hacking threats.
Windows XP was launched in 2001, and since then Microsoft has unveiled two major updates to its desktop; Windows 7 and Windows 8.
Rob Wilmot, the Crown Representative for Software at the CCS, said; "We are delighted that this agreement will deliver projected savings in excess of £20m against standard pricing in the next 12 months.
The UK government, having paid £5.5m for the support extension, is not the only in Europe forced to negotiate with Microsoft. The Dutch government has been reported to have signed a similar deal.