Report: Vladmir Putin Still Using Windows XP

John Lister's picture

Russian leader Vladmir Putin still uses Windows XP if official photographs are to be believed. Ironically it might actually be a security measure.

The photos released by the Russian state news agency show Putin's computers in his Kremlin office and his official residence. In both cases the screens are displaying the toolbar and icons from XP, though the default desktop background image is replaced with a picture of the Kremlin. (Source: themoscowtimes.com)

It would certainly be frowned upon (if not entirely shocking) for senior government officials in the West to still be running XP due to its severe security issues. After a delay because it was still widely used, Microsoft stopped issuing security updates for XP in 2014, albeit with the occasional emergency patch.

Related: Is Using Windows XP Really That Dangerous?

US Snooping Feared

However, it's reported that Putin may be following Russian policy. Leaked documents from the country's defense minister suggest later versions of Windows aren't approved for government computers unless they contain no confidential information.

That's likely not a decision based on the public security safeguards in Windows up to and including Windows 10. Instead, it's more likely that Russian officials believe - rightly or wrongly - that Windows has "backdoor" security holes that Microsoft created for the government to use for surveillance.

True or not, that's hardly an uncommon fear. The US government restricts agencies and contractors from using technology from Chinese businesses such as Huawei and ZTE over fears that it includes similar "backdoors" for China's security services to exploit.

Smartphones Also Restricted

Russian documents also suggest the country is going to switch to using its own operating system for government computer networks, but this may have proven more difficult that anticipated.

In the meantime, a new law taking effect next July makes it illegal to sell computers, smartphones or smart televisions that don't have designated Russian software and apps installed. (Source: theguardian.com)

Although the devices can still run foreign apps, critics fear the move is designed to make government surveillance easier. In contrast, officials say it's simply a way to promote the work of Russian software developers.

It's far from the only government control over technology. A law passed last year gives the government the legal right to restrict Internet access between Russia and other countries. In this case, the official explanation is that it's a security measure.

What's Your Opinion?

Are you surprised Putin still uses Windows XP? Are governments right to restrict official use of software developed in other countries? Do you worry that Windows might include deliberate security holes to help government surveillance?

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Comments

buzzallnight's picture

I really hope Russia or China comes up with a good operating system.
M$ is on a downward spiral and just sells trash now
they can't even do upgrades anymore
and have sent out the wrong upgrade for win 10 TWICE!!!!!!!!!!
They don't have any Americans working there anymore!!!!!!!!!!!!

Chief's picture

I'll believe the government's altruistic motivations regarding government developed software when the security experts switch!

willow_28_13070's picture

Perhaps Mr. Putin is using a Russian-based Linux distro, such as Astra, which is used by the Russian Army. Possibly with an xfce desktop environment.
Open-source window managers, icon sets and cursor sets which mimic Windows XP have been available almost as long as XP itself. Also, the xfce Whisker start menu can be tweaked to resemble that of XP, including the green Start button.

dwightlightnin_12354's picture

Yes the government has back doors into every computer and cell phone including iphones. There is no such thing as privacy, it has been gone for years. Microsoft has more back doors and ways to hack in that I spend more time trying to stop the stuff from running as I'm no pc pro. HAHA don't even want to start on the smart tvs and speakers! ANALOG FOR ME.