Microsoft Transitions from VBScript to JavaScript and PowerShell

JavaScript, Microsoft, Phases Out, PowerShell", VBScript

Microsoft has announced its plans to phase out Visual Basic Script (VBScript) in favor of more advanced scripting languages like JavaScript and PowerShell. The deprecation plan consists of three phases, with the first phase starting in the second half of 2024, where VBScript will still be available as an on-demand feature in Windows 11 24H2. The second phase, expected to start around 2027, will have VBScript as an on-demand feature, but it will no longer be enabled by default. Finally, VBScript is expected to be fully retired and removed from the Windows operating system at a later date.

VBScript was introduced by Microsoft in 1996 as a Windows system component, allowing users to automate tasks and develop interactive web pages using Internet Explorer and Edge (in Internet Explorer mode). However, as technology has evolved, newer scripting languages like JavaScript and PowerShell have emerged, offering broader capabilities and better suitability for modern web development and automation tasks.

While VBScript has served its purpose over the years, it has also been abused by threat actors for malicious activities. Microsoft’s decision to deprecate VBScript is aimed at minimizing the attack surface by removing features that can be exploited. This move aligns with Microsoft’s recent efforts to enhance security by disabling features like NT LAN Manager (NTLM) and Excel 4.0 (XLM) macros, as well as adding prevention measures for risky file extensions in OneNote.

The deprecation of VBScript is part of Microsoft’s broader strategy to promote more secure and efficient scripting languages. JavaScript, for example, has become one of the most widely used programming languages for web development due to its versatility and compatibility across different platforms. PowerShell, on the other hand, is a powerful scripting language that combines the command-line capabilities of traditional shells with the flexibility of a programming language.

With the deprecation of VBScript, Microsoft is encouraging developers and users to transition to these suggested alternatives. JavaScript and PowerShell offer more advanced capabilities and are better equipped to handle the demands of modern web development and automation tasks. Developers familiar with VBScript may need to invest time and effort into learning and adapting to these new scripting languages, but the benefits in terms of security, performance, and flexibility make it a worthwhile transition.

In addition to the deprecation of VBScript, Microsoft has also introduced a new feature called Recall, powered by artificial intelligence (AI). Recall allows users to explore their PC’s past activities and access snapshots of their active windows. While Recall may seem intriguing, there have been concerns raised about its potential impact on privacy and security.

Recall periodically saves snapshots of the user’s active window and uses screen segmentation and image recognition to extract insights from them. While Microsoft assures users that the content is processed locally on the device and encrypted, there are concerns about the lack of content moderation. Recall does not obscure content present in confidential documents or sensitive information such as passwords or financial account numbers. This means that an attacker who has compromised a system through other means may be able to steal snapshots and gather valuable information.

The U.K. Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has expressed its intention to work with Microsoft to better understand the safeguards in place to protect user privacy. Data protection and privacy are important considerations, and organizations must be transparent in how they handle personal data and assess and mitigate risks before introducing new products to the market.

It is crucial for Microsoft to address these concerns and implement measures to ensure that Recall upholds user privacy and security. As advancements in AI technology continue to shape our digital experiences, it is vital to strike a balance between innovation and safeguarding user data.

In conclusion, the deprecation of VBScript by Microsoft is a significant step toward promoting more advanced and secure scripting languages like JavaScript and PowerShell. While the transition may require some effort for developers and users familiar with VBScript, the benefits in terms of security, performance, and compatibility make it a worthwhile shift. However, there are concerns about Microsoft’s Recall feature and its potential implications for privacy and security. It is important for Microsoft to address these concerns and prioritize user privacy while leveraging AI technology. As the technology landscape continues to evolve, organizations must prioritize user privacy and security to build trust and ensure the responsible use of innovative features and technologies.

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