80,000 UK government computers knocked out in Microsoft Windows crash

“Electronic Data Systems Corp. and Microsoft Corp. were blamed by the United Kingdom’s pension and benefits agency for a computer crash that snarled payments across Britain. About 80,000 of the 100,000 desktop computers in the Department for Work & Pensions were knocked out of service after a routine software upgrade earlier this week, the London agency said in a statement. The agency administers child support, unemployment and pension benefits,” Reed V. Landberg and Robert Hutton report for Bloomberg News.

“‘A piece of Microsoft software was uploaded’ to the department system on Monday, said Alex Flynn, spokesman for the Public & Commercial Services Union, which represents half of all civil service workers, including Work & Pensions staff. ‘That modernization went awry. Microsoft is saying it’s EDS’s fault. EDS is saying the Microsoft program didn’t upload properly,'” Landberg and Hutton report.

Full article here.


  1. “‘Microsoft is saying it’s EDS’s fault. EDS is saying the Microsoft program didn’t upload properly,’ Landberg and Hutton report.”

    I have just one question, does Alex Flynn honestly believe that Micros**t would *ever* admit to ANY wrongdoing??? Let me answer that… HELL NO!! As far as MS is concerned, it’s ALWAYS someone else’s fault. Hello, Alex, wake up!! You need to jettison that MS crap ASAP. If not, then you get what you deserve.

    ’nuff said.

  2. Oblivious:
    it is always somebody else’s fault: after all, they installed the crap. MS is within its right to try and sell overpriced malware. However, to install such crap for anything more important than shooter games is absolutely moronic.

  3. hahaha, how quaint! They sound like 5th graders quarreling. I mean do you hear the ridiculous banter going on? well only if they had seen the light. maybe now they’ll switch to Linux or even make far easier for themselves buy some xserves and macosx server & OsX for department & server work and they’ll end up saving more yearly and actually pay people on time!

  4. Interestingly, BBC TV news was even more lily-livered attributing the problem to a “bug” or “problem” in its bulletins on Friday.

    The fact of the matter is that this is obviously an SMS (or ther lifecycle tool) job that took a serious walk off the reservation, because either a) the job wasn’t correctly identified in which clients should recieve it (EDS’ fault), the testing wasn’t adequate (EDS’ fault) or because the MSI execution routines in Windows didn’t accept the job as submitted.

    All of the smoke being blown by the agency at the moment suggests that the job was submitted to more clients than should have received it, which tends to suggest that EDS fscked up in a big way (having sub-contracted for them, the only surprise is that it doesn’t happen more often).

    However, this is where the privatisation of government IT lets the administration off the hook: thousands of the most vulnerable in UK society will now have to wait for the cash they need to live as the catch-up process gets executed. It’s getting cold here at the moment, people are going to have their heating cut off and all because successive governments wouldn’t know a good IT solution if it bit them on the back of the neck.

    All in all, a scandal!

  5. “Interestingly, BBC TV news was even more lily-livered attributing the problem to a “bug” or “problem” in its bulletins on Friday”

    I wonder, do Britain’s stringent anti-libel laws pertain to corporations as well?

  6. The lap-dog (not watch-dog) press will not bite the hand of the Wintel cartel as they get fed by it. Ever notice how many online, broadcast and print ads come from M$, Intel, HP, Dell and others who sell Windoze PCs or apps? They are afraid to piss them off. That’s why Windows crashes are rarely attributed to Redmond and it’s minions.

  7. I read the Register’s story last week, and it really does sound like it was human error and not a fault in Microsoft’s software. I’m not apologising for MS, anyone who knows me knows I hate MS with a passion, but I also hate innaccurate information being spread by press whether it is about MS, Apple or whoever.

    From the Register article:
    “According to one, a limited network upgrade from Windows 2000 to Windows XP was taking place, but instead of this taking place on only a small number of the target machines, all the clients connected to the network received a partial, but fatal, ‘upgrade.’

    Another source says that the DWP was trialing Windows XP on a small number (“about seven”) of machines. “EDS were going to apply a patch to these, unfortunately the request was made to apply it live and it was rolled out across the estate, which hit around 80 per cent of the Win2k desktops. This patch caused the desktops to BSOD and made recovery rather tricky as they couldn’t boot to pick any further patches or recalls.”

    You could say that it was still MS software, but it is unclear exactly what got “pushed” to the 80,000 PCs. It’s never a good idea to push a major OS upgrade out without significant testing on your hardware and software platform. Sound like they were trying to do such a test to 7 PCs but accidentally pushed it out to ALL PCs. Obviously their test failed…

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