Why Microsoft Needs To Own Part Of The Blame For This Epic Cyberattack

We’ve just witnessed the biggest cyberattack in history with tens of thousands of computers in something like 170 countries being infected with ransomware. And the blame game has started. I recently posted a story where I leveled blame at a bunch of people.  Consumers, businesses, intelligence agencies and governments were on that list. But I missed someone. That someone is Microsoft. Though, if you ask them, the blame lies with intelligence agencies stockpiling exploits. Then losing control of them and those exploits evolve into the sort of carnage that we saw this past week. But I would argue that Microsoft needs to look in the mirror way before they point fingers elsewhere. Let me list the reasons why.

Microsoft has an agenda to push the latest and greatest OS’es onto the world so that they can make a buck or two. I get that. However, as evidenced by these cyberattacks, businesses and home users can’t always do what Microsoft would like them to do. Look at NHS in the UK who was reportedly running Windows XP machines even though the OS has been cut loose by Microsoft ages ago. While NHS does rightly need to own part of this because they didn’t upgrade to a more recent OS, Microsoft cannot simply expect companies to upgrade every time Microsoft deems it to be required. Many can’t as evidenced by the fact that something like 52% of businesses worldwide run at least one instance of Windows XP. After all upgrades cost money. Lots of money.

Nor can Microsoft say that if you get pwned by something, it’s not their problem because you’re running an older OS like XP. And backing that up by cutting off security patches to those OS’es that Microsoft doesn’t want you using to force the issue in terms of upgrading to something that is according to them is more secure. Let’s face it, that strategy clearly isn’t working. And I think Microsoft realizes that as they came out with patches for Windows XP very quickly to mitigate this threat. That implies that Microsoft could make XP secure if they really wanted to. It also implies that Microsoft knows that this is their problem despite what they’ve been saying for years. Or look at it another way. If they really cared about the security of users, they could offer OS upgrades for everybody for free the way that those guys over at 1 Infinite loop do. After all, Microsoft only offered free upgrades to Windows 10 for a limited time to home users. But that didn’t encourage businesses to update to Windows 10, and it could be argued that this could have been mitigated if those businesses could upgrade without spending a fortune.

Here’s my advice to Microsoft as this epic cyberattack is your wake up call. Help businesses and consumers to upgrade to Windows 10 by giving it away for free. Work with partners and IT consultants to help them to make the move as both groups need to consider the fact that they may have to replace hardware and upgrade software to make the move. Not to mention that they need the expertise to actually execute the move to Windows 10. By doing so you will give them the incentive that they need to make the move from XP, or Vista, or Windows 7 or 8.1. Maybe then you’ll hit your target of a billion or more devices in two to three years after Windows 10’s original ship date. You’ll also earn some goodwill and you may mitigate the next epic cyberattack, and I seriously doubt that you’ll lose that much cash by doing so.

So how about it Microsoft? Will you do what’s right for your customers? Or will you do what’s right for your shareholders? The choice is yours.




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