Microsoft held back free fix that could’ve contained the devastating WannaCry Windows PC epidemic

“Microsoft held back from distributing a free repair for old versions of its software that could have slowed last week’s devastating ransomware attack, instead charging some customers $1,000 a year per device for protection against such threats,” Richard Waters and Hannah Kuchler report for The Financial Times.

“In another controversial pricing move, meanwhile, Microsoft recently began charging customers more for extra security in the top-of-the-line version of Windows 10,” Waters and Kuchler report. “The split pricing marks the first time the company has treated the highest level of security as an add-on feature of its software, drawing criticism that it has left other versions of Windows more open to attack.”

“The company issued a free patch in March that would have protected computers running recent versions of Windows from the malware. But users of older software, such as Windows XP, have to pay hefty fees for so-called ‘custom’ support,” Waters and Kuchler report. “The cost went from $200 per device in 2014, when regular support for XP ended, to $400 the following year. It jumped to $1,000 after that, according to one person who had seen a pricing schedule that Microsoft sent to one customer, with a minimum payment of $750,000 and a ceiling of $25m.”

“The high costs led many — including the UK’s National Health Service — to abandon the special support after one year, leaving them exposed to last week’s attack,” Waters and Kuchler report. “The company also took the rare step of making the expensive patch for old software such as Windows XP free of charge at around midnight local time on Friday, though that was too late to contain the WannaCry outbreak.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Moral of the story (besides that Microsoft has no morals):

You’ll pay one way or another – to the hackers, to Mafiasoft, or in lost data – unless you’re smart enough to use a Mac.

Wasn’t Windows 95/98/Me/2000/XP supposed to be secure? Now, they’re promising Windows Vista will be secure. Yeah, riiight. And, because they’re incapable of making Window secure, they’re going to charge their pigeons $50 per year? For “Microsoft Security,” a misnomer if ever there was one? Why not make Windows itself secure? You know, like Apple’s Mac OS X.

Anyone who buys Windows and then pays Mafiasoft $50 per year in protection money is a damn fool. If you’re that stupid, you deserve to use Windows, and only Windows, for the rest of your life. Wonder what will happen if and when Microsoft’s security subscription earnings dip and need to be, ahem, “reinvigorated?”

Here’s the best personal computer advice you’ll get all year, perhaps ever: If you only use Windows, dump it and get a Mac… You’ll come out so far ahead, you’ll think you’ve jumped forward a decade – which, of course, would be true. — MacDailyNews, February 7, 2006

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  1. Where’s the MS incentive to create a truly secure OS if you can make one not so secure and then charge more to make it “more secure” which you could’ve done in the first place?

    1. …and “upgraded” without your permission.

      as bad a fück-up as Pipeline T is, MacOS is ten jillion times more rational than Ballmer T OS.

    2. Microsoft is charging for XP support because it is 13 years old. Upgrade already. It is the people that don’t upgrade that are putting themselves and others at risk. Microsoft don’t want the money for extended support and offer all of it back in consultancy time to corporates who pay for a CSA (custom support agreement), provided the consultancy is spent on upgrading to the latest Windows. Windows 10 was not affected by Wannacry.

          1. Check out Ubuntu. Linux is as secure as MacOS and it’s similar behind the scenes, but you can use whatever hardware you want. In fact, check out the laptops at My favorite is the Oryx Pro – Quad-Core 2.8-3.8 GHz i7, GTX 1060 (configurable to 1070), 8-64 GB RAM, two M.2 slots, 2 2.5” hard drive bays, and lots of ports. Just be aware that you might not be able to run all of your software on Linux, though there are usually open-source alternatives (i.e. LibreOffice, Calibre, Banshee).

  2. No fan of MS, but at some point as a business, you need to secure your software. And who thinks a 15 year old program is safe or efficient.

  3. If you keep supporting old software, where is the incentive to upgrade?

    Even Apple stops support of their older OSes. I think 10.10 is the oldest version that gets updates still. El Capitan came out 2014. For the record Microsoft is supporting older operations systems. Window 7 from 2009, comes to mind here.

    Now, it’s a “special” event when Apple has to send out a security patch. For Microsoft it’s nothing special. That is telling.

    However I find it more disturbing to learn there is a higher tier security support. This is where you get special treatment for a higher echonomic class. This is not how things should work. If they want to offer free upgrades, fine but if they need money to support that, they have to come up with a different plan, become we all deserve equal treatment.

      1. You make an excellent point. Once computer hardware gets to 10 years old, there is no way to justify its use on the internet in any way.

        I do have XP machines for checking old files and old apps, but they NEVER go online, ever, ever, ever.

  4. “$200 per device in 2014, when regular support for XP ended, to $400 the following year. It jumped to $1,000 after that”

    Wannacry was only $300.

    1. A thrifty XP user can buy a new lower end Win10 laptop for $1000.

      We are really talking about people who don’t know, don’t care and are so cheap they don’t value the benefits of their computing hardly at all. Just blind.

      1. The cylinder Mac Pro worked well for me and other researchers. It was fast; all the reviews were glowing. But after a year or two, it began to fall short of the needs of creatives in certain professions such as video editing; they were hypervocal about the Mac Pro’s non-upgradeable GPUs, its only real Achilles’ Heel. This sticking point ballooned into a blanket condemnation of the entire project, with each and every feature of its design turned into another loathsome defect of Quasimodo. The hysteria went viral, to the point that Apple emerged from their cave with a white flag and a promise to start over.

        Apple strives to be a pathfinder, a leader in human technology; but sometimes in their zeal, they strike out in an offbeat direction and get somewhat lost for a time. I’ll allow them the occasional cowpath or dead end, because overall they’ve blazed a broad trail to the future for all of us.

    1. I can run 25-year old applications on my Windows PC. I have many thousands of dollars worth of apps that are 5-10 years old that won’t run on my Mac.

  5. I’m pretty sure they told people several years ago that Windoze eXtra Pitiful would be EOL.

    Apple doesn’t support anything older than 10.10. It would be really nice if they would support 10.6, that was the last release that had proper scroll arrows, and the last release that had Rosetta. It would be even better if they’d support 10.5, with AppleTalk.

    Sorry, you can fault M$ for a lot of things, but long term support of OS releases isn’t one of them. eXtra Pitiful is crap, always was crap, and doesn’t deserve the long term support it got.

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