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Upgrade To State Computer System Will Cost Maine Taxpayers More Than $1M

Mark Lennihan
In this photo made Jan. 11, 2010, a display for Microsoft's Windows 7, and its applications for a digital retail experience, is shown at the National Retail Federation's convention in New York.

Maine taxpayers will have to spend more than $1 million to upgrade state computer software because Microsoft will no longer provide free security updates for the aging operating system.

Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system was being sold in new computers as late as last fall, but in January the company announced it will stop providing free security updates for the system this January. The upgrade will affect about 10,000 computers.

Every year the state routinely replaces computers that are more than five years old but Chief Information Officer Fred Brittain says that the Microsoft decision required the state to upgrade more computers than planned.

“We would typically, through a regular process of attrition, we move through the operating systems and everything else," Brittain says.

Brittain says a key part of computer security is the free patches Microsoft and other software companies provide.

“This is an unusual push,” he says. “But the rational is that Microsoft has said we’re going to stop providing updates as of January 2020.”

So far, over half the state’s executive branch computers have been upgraded, and Brittain is confident all will be completed by January.