If anyone should be mad at the NSA for all the snooping that appears to be going on, it should be the Department of Commerce, not privacy advocates. The recent revelations are not a threat to US national security so much as a threat to the US economy. And if I were Microsoft, I'd be having around-the-clock meetings to discuss how to fix what is about to happen.
Microsoft, despite denials, appears to be in bed with the NSA. Apparently all encryption and other methods to keep documents and discussions private are bypassed and accessible by the NSA (opens in new tab) and whomever it is working with. This means a third party, for whatever reason, can easily access confidential business deals, love letters, government classified memos, merger paperwork, financial transactions, intra-corporate schemes, and everything in between.
With that said, do you really want to buy a Microsoft product? Do you want to buy anything that gives easy access to snoops poking around at their leisure? If an average user would think twice about this, then why would a foreign government rely on Microsoft Office (opens in new tab) with any confidence? Personally, if I were any foreign government or corporation, I'd stop using all Microsoft products immediately for fear of America spying on me. Nothing can be secret.
If I was a shareholder in any public company, I'd get up at the annual meeting and ask if the company was using Microsoft products and if so, I'd demand to know why it has not dumped them for something else. (And Google Docs is not an option). And by the way, the Windows operating system is corrupted too. Smart money now uses Linux. The Linux code is open and available, and you can look for yourself to see if the OS is sending messages to a spy agency or not.
This is a financial disaster waiting to happen. Microsoft is oblivious if it is not doing something to divorce itself from the NSA.
Apple, on the other hand, could have come out of all this smelling of roses, but following the death of Steve Jobs, who apparently refused to play ball with the NSA, it stupidly jumped on board to join the PRISM (opens in new tab) club.
Curiously, we've all known about the possible links between the NSA and Microsoft since the Windows 2000 era when odd DLLs began to appear, which observers surmised were some backdoor codes. The leaked PowerPoint slides (opens in new tab) reveal that Microsoft was the first on board with PRISM, which tells me that the company had already been doing business with spies and was most eager to continue. Does this make you feel good about the company and its products? Is this how Microsoft looks after its customers?
At the end of last week, the first thing I noticed amongst the Microsoft news which was emerging was that Ballmer refused to talk about the company's wearable computing strategy. My first thought was: "This is its priority? Wearable computers? So it can spy on your day-to-day activities?" The next story I read was about how Microsoft is going to reshuffle the organisation, which prompted me to wonder: "Re-org? Why? So it can put some intelligence agency folks in charge?"
If Microsoft thinks it can ignore what is happening by whistling in the graveyard, it is in for a big surprise. The investors will be the first to get a clue, and the customers will follow.
The final question is: who at Microsoft thought this was a good business idea?