large image

Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Britain’s missile-carrying war submarines run on Windows XP

Don’t panic but your home computer is probably running a newer version of Windows than the UK’s military submarines.

Britain’s Vanguard-class, missile-carrying submarines use a variant of Windows XP as their primary operating system.

The revelation comes courtesy of a Guardian article examining proposals for the Trident nuclear submarines and the future of cyber warfare.

The article discusses criticisms levied against the Royal Navy in regards to Trident, stating: “Critics point in particular to the Royal Navy’s decision to install a variant of Windows XP as the operating system on its missile-carrying Vanguard-class submarines.”

It was cheaper than the alternatives,” writes journalist Julian Borger, “but Windows for Submarines, as it is called, is also more vulnerable to malware as it comes off-the-shelf.”

Borger continues: “This also means there are more bugs in circulation that could affect it, and every time a submarine comes to port and gets a software patch, it is newly vulnerable.”

Windows XP was first released to manufacturing on August 23, 2001, and released for retail sale on October 25 that same year.

windows xpMicrosoft Windows XP

development of the software actually began in the late 1990s under the
codename “Neptune” – Roman god of the sea. Maybe that explains the Royal
Navy’s decision to adopt the software.

According to the article, the Ministry of Defence insists that Trident “remains safe and secure”, stating:

“Submarines operating in isolation by design, and this contributes to their cyber resilience. We take our responsibility to maintain a credible nuclear deterrent extremely seriously and continually assess the capability of our submarines to ensure their operational effectiveness, including against threats from cyber and unmanned vehicles.”

The latest version of Microsoft’s operating system is Windows 10, which was officially unveiled in September 2014. However, its consumer release didn’t take place until July 29, 2015.


Related: Windows 10 vs Windows 8

Do you think the Royal Navy should finally take the leap to Windows 10? Let us know in the comments.

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2004, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have millions of users a month from around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.