microsoft, WannaCry, ransomware, security update, Windows XP, Windows 10
[Representational Image]  A sign marks the Microsoft office in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S. January 25, 2017.Reuters file

Global software giant Microsoft could have prevented the WannaCry ransomware from reaching epidemic proportions globally and become a hero for millions of people, but lure of monetary gain stopped it from taking the right decision.

Microsoft, despite knowing the vulnerabilities present in its PC software, chose to withhold the release of the security patch for a certain section of clients, which were running older (ex: Windows Vista & Windows XP) versions on their company systems, according to Financial Times.

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It is believed that Microsoft rolled out the firmware only to the Windows 10 series, as the company had stopped software support for Windows Vista version last month. It had done so for Windows XP a long time back.

To make things worse, Microsoft, which used to provide custom security software support to its clients for $200 for each system in 2014, doubled the cost to $400 in 2015, thereby discouraging the companies from upgrading their systems.

"Microsoft offers custom support agreements as a stopgap measure" for companies that choose not to upgrade their systems, Microsoft spokesperson said to Agence France Presse (AFP). "To be clear, Microsoft would prefer that companies upgrade and realise the full benefits of the latest version rather than choose custom support." 

Though clients are partly to be blamed for not upgrading their systems, Microsoft could have behaved more responsibly, as it had full knowledge of the severity of the security loophole and its global impact.

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With this revelation, the brand image of Microsoft will certainly take a hit. But thanks to a level-headed response by the security chiefs in the company, it will be able to recover soon, as they released the software patch free of cost to all the older Windows OS-powered PCs around the world and stopped the WannaCry ransomware from spreading further.