Microsoft has spent years warning everyone around the world to stop using Windows XP, but there are still millions of systems running the now ancient operating system. One of those computers, inexplicably, sits on Russian president Vladimir Putin’s desk. Putin’s preference for the golden age of Windows was revealed in a Kremlin photo release, which clearly shows the XP machine in the world leader’s office.
The image in question is from November, taken during a meeting Putin had with the WorldSkills Union. The monitor shows what is unmistakably the Windows XP desktop. It might not have the classic Bliss wallpaper, but you can tell from the color of the taskbar that this is Microsoft’s circa 2001 OS. It’s somewhat surprising that Putin’s office PC isn’t running Astra Linux. That version of the open-source OS was developed specifically for use by Russian military and intelligence.
You might not realize, but Putin is 67 years old. We all have that older relative who sticks with the technology of yesteryear until someone makes them stop. Well, there’s no one in Russia to make Putin stop using Windows XP. So there it is, running in a world leader’s office more than 18 years after release.
If you or I used XP, we’d be looking at serious security issues. A few minutes on the internet would probably be enough to render that PC hopelessly infected with malware. However, XP is still in use at some companies and government agencies around the world. Microsoft successfully ended XP update support in 2014 after several delays. Although, the OS has gotten a few critical patches since then, including protection from the WannaCry ransomware in 2017 and a Remote Desktop remote code execution attack in 2019.
Anyone still using XP who wants updates has to set up a spendy custom support contract with Microsoft. It’s possible the Kremlin does that, but it’s more likely that Putin’s personal computer is being actively maintained and firewalled by the government’s security staff. So, perhaps Putin can safely use a Windows XP computer. Still, that doesn’t mean it’s a good experience. For all the flack Windows 10 gets for its annoying update mechanisms and clunky settings, it’s worlds better than an operating system designed in the late 90s.
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