Biffa still using Windows XP across the company, 'no business case' for Windows 7 says IT director

By Peter Gothard
09 Jul 2014 View Comments
Biffa truck

Waste management and recycling firm Biffa is still using Windows XP across the majority of its desktop end-user systems, Computing can reveal.

While group IT director David Gooding is slowly carrying out a migration to Windows 7, he still questions the business case for upgrading from Microsoft's 13-year old operating system, which the company has officially stopped supporting with software security updates.

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"Our organisation is still on XP, though we're migrating away", Gooding told Computing.

Gooding said Biffa's strategy in terms of XP's security failings are to take XP off mobile devices, and rely on its Websense security solution and firewalls to do the rest.

"Our priority is making sure there are no laptops with XP on, but actually if you've got an XP desktop that's firewalled on a corporate network, the risk from what we're reading and being told at the moment is not acute."

Gooding said that, like many organisations that are sticking with Windows XP, Biffa has been in personal contact with Microsoft to provide bespoke advice and support for keeping the incumbent OS, but is finding few problems on an everyday level.

"We actually had one application that was struggling, but I think we've even solved that now," he said, questioning the business case for Windows 7 in a company such as Biffa, which Gooding said has an overall low level of IT literacy among its end users.

"We have Windows 7 machines out there now, and we will start that replacement, but for me as an IT director, what's the business case around Windows 7? It just doesn't exist. The business case is 'XP's going to stop working, so you've got to do it'.

"We're constantly challenged in terms of the resources and budget we have. So how do I go and ask for what is a substantial amount of money to upgrade everything? And the reality is we've prioritised the laptops to go off-network, and I think it makes sense. And a lot of those [Windows 7] use cases would be the more savvy users anyway who would [be used to an] up-to-date operating system and would benefit from newer Office."

Gooding asked, "The Weighbridge clerk who's been doing the same job for 10 years and never used any of the Office suite – why update him?"

According to Gooding, the "Weighbridge clerk" example has full internet access from a Windows XP endpoint, but works in a "controlled and locked-down" system environment.

"We use Websense, it's all very locked down in terms of where he can go, there's anti-virus, firewalls..." continued Gooding.

"It's something we will solve, but it'll be a gradual migration through cost," concluded Gooding. But he won't be looking at Windows 8 either.

"Our advice at the moment is that there's certainty in 7, and that's the right place for us to be.

"Yes, we do need to move, but it would be an interesting statistic to see how many corporations are still running XP – it's significant."

Biffa isn't alone in soldiering on with Windows XP, as companies such as DIY retailer Fisher and even the NHS are still using the old OS in some capacity.

Stay tuned to Computing for the full David Gooding interview, coming very soon.

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