Microsoft has increased its focus on information security, and the strategy seems to be working.
Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, gave a speech at the Government Security Forum in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, and it focused on reassuring enterprise clients that Windows 10, Azure, and other Microsoft services are better than those from Amazon or Google.
Nadella laid out the various security improvements that Windows 10 and Azure users can expect when they upgrade, including Windows Hello, Passport, and Device Guard. All three put together offer better protection against hackers, by mitigating the need for passwords, and malware attacks, two key areas of annoyance for big businesses.
“[Microsoft have] changed themselves from worst in class to the best in class,” Mikko Hypponen, the chief research officer for the security firm F-Secure, told The New York Times. “The change is complete. They started taking security very seriously.”
On stage, Nadella described the company’s new Cyber Defence Operating Centre, a result of more than $US1 billion (£650 million) in R&D spending related to security in 2015. The Centre uses a mixture of algorithm and human input, detecting problems and oddities in real-time, flagging them up and fixing them.
In an interview with the NYT, Nadella described security as “like going to the gym every day.” “You can’t say ‘I’m serious about security’ without exercising the regimen of keeping security top of mind every second,” he said.
Elsewhere, Microsoft has been making moves to secure data in European countries, both from governments and cyber attacks. The company is building UK-based data centres — alongside others in Germany — hat prevent the US government from accessing company data without a far more convoluted process that takes much longer to process.
Nadella has instituted a monthly meeting in which he and the executive team assess security threats against clients and decide how to deal with them. The company has also increased its number of security-focused employees by 20%, according to Nadella.
According to Jeremy Korst, the general manager for Windows, the security features that enterprise clients like also filter down into the everyday user experience. Korst described how “cool” features, such as Hello which uses facial recognition to unlock a device, started life as a problem solver for businesses. The fact that a hacker cannot steal your face like a password is almost a bonus.
The strategy is working, too: Businesses like Windows 10 more than previous versions, according to both Korst and Forrester Research. Usually, enterprise customers wait a few years before upgrading to a new version of Windows but almost 50% of those surveyed by Forrester said they had plans to upgrade in 2016.
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