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Windows for Warships? Not on our new aircraft carriers, says MoD

It was indeed just 'comedy wallpaper in a techie's lappie'

Britain's new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers will be Windows XP-free zones, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed to The Register.

Readers made us aware that a technician working aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth itself, which is a year away from completion, had the famous Windows XP rolling hills desktop background used by Microsoft’s ancient OS on his screen.

The UK government negotiated a Custom Support Agreement in April 2014 when the software was classified as end-of-life, so the departments and agencies could use it without worrying about no more patches being written.

But it seems this was indeed comedy wallpaper on the laptop owned by a white coat, for the MoD told us HMS Queen Elizabeth will be using more up-to-date software.

The warship is “currently undergoing fitting-out in her test, integration and commissioning phase in Rosyth,” the spokesman said.

“The MoD can confirm that Windows XP will not be used by any onboard system when the ship becomes operational,” the spokesman added. “This also applies to HMS Prince of Wales.”

Prince of Wales is the second of the UK's two new carriers. It's notable that the MoD doesn't state that either ship won't use XP at all – only when they become operational, which doesn't rule it out altogether. El Reg has asked the MoD about this but they refused to comment on this point.

Software based on XP is used to run the command suites of most of Blighty's major warships, including the Type 23 frigate fleet and the newer Type 45 destroyers, the last of which entered service in 2013.

HMS Queen Elizabeth will begin her sea trials in August 2016 that the MoD said will last until mid-2017, after which she will be officially handed over to the Royal Navy.

Following this, the ship will go over to the East Coast USA for flight trials in 2018 for the F35b, but all her systems will be complete and operational in 2017, and be fully in service as the flagship vessel from 2020, the MoD said.

Let's hope she doesn't suffer a BSOD before then. ®

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