Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) delayed the release of a security patch that could have significantly slowed the spread of WannaCry ransomware, which continues to wreak havoc on computer systems worldwide.
That’s according to a new report from the Financial Times, which notes that while the tech giant eventually made the patch publicly available for all of its computer systems, older versions of its Windows software were left unpatched. Meanwhile, Microsoft was requesting fees of up to $1,000 a year for custom support of Windows XP and other now-obsolete operating systems.
CNET has some additional details on the maneuver, which isn’t going over well in tech circles:
While Microsoft finally did make the patch available free of charge to Windows XP machines last Friday, damage had already been done. The company has since been trying to convince customers, business or otherwise, to switch to its newer and more secure Windows 10. Despite the lack of cover, plenty of Microsoft’s customers are still running older software that may still be vulnerable.
“Recognizing that for a variety of business reasons, companies sometimes choose not to upgrade even after 10 or 15 years, Microsoft offers custom support agreements as a stopgap measure,” said a Microsoft spokesperson in a statement to CNET.
WannaCry attacks have been subsequently slowed by a security expert that found a workaround to kill the ransomware. However, newer versions have appeared recently that are tougher to combat.
WannaCry only affects Windows-based computers, encrypting a user’s files and demanding a ransom — paid only in the cryptocurrency bitcoin — to restore the system. The nefarious software has reportedly infected over 300,000 computers in 150 countries, crippling both single users and sometimes entire businesses in the process.
Microsoft Corporation shares were trading at $67.91 per share on Friday morning, up $0.20 (+0.30%). Year-to-date, MSFT has gained 10.58%, versus a 7.05% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.