Microsoft was at the center of the recent WannaCry (WannaCrypt) ransomware attack. The company's Windows platform was exploited through a backdoor previously used by the NSA. Cybercriminals used this backdoor to infect hundreds of thousands of machines.
Authorities say 50 million Windows users should be able to upgrade to Windows 10 at a lower price to better combat ransomware. So, is Microsoft being held to ransom over ransomware? Well, it does seem that way, but reports in India suggest the company's division in the country has agreed in principle to the discount.
However, Microsoft has not yet officially commented on the matter. Offering such a discount would open a precedent for other countries to demand similar cuts. Gulshan Rai, India's cyber security coordinator says the government is in talks with the company.
Of course, Rai may be going public in an attempt to force Microsoft's hand. Windows 10 Home costs 7,999 rupees ($124) in India, with Pro costing 14,999 ($232). It is unclear exactly how much of a discount the Indian government is seeking. However, Rai says he expects Microsoft to offer the platform for “throw-away prices”.
If Microsoft agrees (we think it's a big if), then the company will certainly lose plenty of money. Windows is easily the most popular OS in India, accounting for 96 percent of the 57 million PCs in the country. Only a small percentage of these machines run Windows 10.
Basically, Microsoft would be upgrading the entire country's PC network for a cut price. This would result in billions of dollars of lost potential revenue. The only caveat is Microsoft may see this as the only way to get Indians to upgrade. Piracy of Windows is rife and many customers do not see the value in upgrading.
Still, we believe the company is unlikely to bend to India's request. Rai, on the other hand, is more confident:
“The quantum of the price cut, we expect some detail on in a couple of days,” he told Reuters.
“It will be a one-time upgrade offer to Windows 10 and it will be a discounted price for the entire country,” said Rai.